NO CONSULTATION ON 29 LIBRARY JOB LOSSES AS UNION FEARS MOUNT OVER LIBRARY SERVICE QUALITY
Harrow UNISON Local Government Branch is sickened by the lack of consultation and engagement by Harrow Council surrounding the intention of new contractor John Laing Integrated Services Ltd (JLIS) to cut Harrow’s Libraries staff by 29 posts. UNISON were recently notified of John Laing’s intention to reduce the library workforce on the 1st August 2013 but Harrow UNISON Branch have since established that Harrow Council’s Human Resources Department knew of these plans as early as 3rd July 2013 but, for reasons unknown, did not feel it necessary to disclose this information. Following this UNISON uncovered that Harrow staff would transfer to a subsidiary of JLIS, Cultural Community Solutions Ltd, a subsidiary without a parent-company guarantee.
Despite the council’s Divisional Director of Community & Culture maintaining that she did not know of the job losses in person to staff on the 2nd August, we find it difficult to believe that this information did not form an integral part of the comprehensive library service tendering process which took place last year. Put simply, we believe those responsible for this process have been completely disingenuous in being transparent about what impact this privatisation exercise will mean for staff and current service levels for the residents of Harrow. None of this information was relayed to UNISON during the equality impact monitoring stage months before the proposals went to Cabinet in June. We firmly believe that the council has breached the public sector equality duty to adequately assess the impact on staff (s.149 of the Equality Act 2010) prior to taking the Cabinet decision.
We also understand that in addition to the deletion of 29 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) posts, approximately 10 agency staff will be released when Harrow’s libraries are transferred to JLIS which we believe equates to nearly a 50% reduction in current staffing levels. Given the significant staffing impact, Harrow Council has left its staff, the trade unions and library service users completely in the dark about the real impact of privatisation.
UNISON have formally requested information from the Council to establish how John Laing will run and operate its 10 libraries on a drastically reduced workforce, complying with its legal duty under the Public Libraries and Museums Act (1964) to provide a “comprehensive and efficient public library service”.
It appears that drastic staffing reductions seem to be the only way in which private companies can seek profit from local authority services (NB- JLIS has announced that it is deleting 35 posts in Ealing) signalling a recipe of reduced service quality when public services are outsourced.
Source: Harrow UNISON branch