Monday 26 August 2013

The Gospel according to Mark Sesnan (GLL)

In a Guardian article the MD of Greenwich LeisureLtd (GLL), Mark Sesnan, waxed lyrical not only about his own company but about what he sees as the ""win–win" not-for-profit relationship" for the Public Sector.

He's was very keen to distance his 'social enterprise' from other commercial outfits stating;

"The way I see it, councils can privatise by selecting a commercial contractor, they can stick their heads in the sand and continue to try to run a facility themselves, or they can work with a social enterprise partner in a "win–win" not-for-profit relationship."

He also talks about GLL's recent move into managing public libraries;

"Libraries are part of local authorities' cultural block. You'd want your library to be open seven days a week, to be accessible, to have a crèche, a café, a car park and be friendly and bright – the same specification as a leisure centre."

The obvious omission to me in the above statement is any mention of 'education and learning', he emphasises their cultural and leisure role which isn't surprising considering his companies raison d’être and the general positioning of public library services within the leisure directorates of local councils but is still very worrying.

When GLL won the 15 year contract for Greenwich Libraries in 2012 serious concerns were raised by the Unite union, campaigners and users about what they saw as the privatisation of the service through the means of a 'Trojan horse', GLL, a 'social enterprise' that claimed to be 'worker led'. These concerns led to Unite calling a five day strike of library staff which was called off due to GLL agreeing to come back to the negotiating table.

"On 30 April, library workers were transferred to Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), which employs staff on poorer pay and conditions than the council. But a magnificent two-day strike by Unite members closed eleven out of 13 libraries. GLL threatened legal action against the strike. Strike action on 30 April and 1 May had to be postponed."

Mark Sesnan sneeringly responded to criticisms and concerns on the 853blog;

"it is disappointing that virtually none of the blogs discuss what is the real key issue here, the Library service itself. It would be good to think that people were interested
in the future of Libraries as well as the staff. It would also be good if there was a realistic discussion
about what the actual options for public services are in the climate of massive funding cuts.

Anyway, let the nasty oppressive GLL respond to the questions:"

Recently, Greenwich Branch of the UNITE union, has accused GLL of employing workers, including in libraries, on zero-hrs contracts and this recent job advert for a 'Casual Library Assistant' to work in their Wandsworth operation appears to prove them right


Casual Library Assistant

Hours of Work

Zero hours contracts"

Seems to me a very strange way for a 'not-for-profit, worker-led, social enterprise' to operate, but they've also been in the news recently for apparently asking 'sports instructors' to clean libraries, but then that's the complicated 'smoke and mirrors' world of privatisation for you!

In 2012 GLL also won an 8yr contract to run Wandsworth Libraries, the contract started in Spring 2013 and since then everything on the news front has gone quite, but I have heard on the grapevine mention of a 'cult like' management style and uniforms!

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