‘Big Society': Volunteers To Replace Paid Public Service Staff.
Volunteers Help Out After Railway Cuts.
Some weeks ago the Bookseller reported that (Here. )
Public sector trade union Unison is to ballot its Southampton City Council library members about strike action, following plans to replace full-time staff with volunteers.
The Conservative-run council announced in its 2010/11 budget plan that it intends to replace six full-time staff with volunteers, with at least one of the city’s libraries set to be run entirely by
Unison regional organiser Andy Straker said: “There is real anger from our members over this issue. They feel that management and councillors are devaluing their skills and experience.”
This has developed into a full dispute. Librarians struck on the 21st fo June. Reports from UNISON – Here. The BBC states that the most recent strike has been postponed for further negotiations to take place (Here).
The key point is that,
The council plans to recruit members of the public to carry out unpaid work in the libraries to cover seven librarian posts and save money.
PM David Cameron’s Big Society has been described by Labour Leadership Contender Ed Milliband as,
a return to Victorian philanthropy, with little role for the state. “This is essentially a 19th-century or US-style view of our welfare state – which is cut back the welfare state and somehow civic society will thrive,” he said. (Here)
The Big Society means shoe-string public services that is clear. Outside of prosperous middle-class areas it hard to see many people ‘volunteering’ for these roles.
But there are other sources of unpaid labour.
Ipswich Unemployed Action has frequently pointed out that Workfare (backed by New Labour as well as the Liberal-Tory Coalition) will be used as a source of ‘volunteers’ to plug gaps in public provision and help drive wages down.
We await the Government’s Work Programme with interest.