Up to eight professionals working across Croydon’s network of 13 branch libraries face redundancy, just a few weeks after a firm of builders which had never pitched for the job took over the running of the borough’s libraries.
Four of the jobs in the cost-cutting measure will go at Croydon Central Library, while a further four jobs are under threat in branches around the borough. This is just the latest cut to our public libraries, which have suffered cut-backs and deliberate disinvestment over the past four years as the Tory-run council prepared the way to hand them over to favoured business partners in a form of privatisation.
The job cuts represent virtually the first act since taking over the borough’s privatised library service by Carillion, a firm better known for operating building contracts, but who acquired a juicy £30 million, eight-year deal to run Croydon’s libraries when John Laing Integrated Services decided that they didn’t fancy the gig after all, following an expensive two-year-long procurement process.
News of the possible eight job losses came in a question at Monday night’s full council meeting at the Town Hall from Timothy Godfrey, the Selhurst councillor and Labour spokesman on culture. The answer offered by Tim Pollard, the deputy leader of the Conservative group on the council, was worthy of Pontius Pilate washing his hands.
JLIS, and by remove their successors Carillion, had “notified the staff in writing by letter that there would be a restructure that might include some redundancies”, Pollard said. So much for the Tory council’s promises that the levels of library service would be maintained after the transfer.
Carillion’s record as employers is under scrutiny. The company is the subject of two separate High Court compensation class actions over unlawful surveillance and the blacklisting of workers.
The court claims arise from Carillion’s involvement in a 15-year industrial espionage operation which was conducted on behalf of more than 40 construction companies. In October, Carillion joined with seven other construction firms – including Sir Robert McAlpine, the builders of Fisher’s Folly, Croydon’s £140 million glass palace council offices – to announce a compensation fund for workers affected by blacklisting.
Carillion were the Croydon librarians’ third employers in the space of a matter of weeks in the autumn, after JLIS took over from the council on October 1, and Carillion then took over from JLIS on October 18. Croydon’s library staff were never informed of the change in ownership – they just noticed when their email accounts changed as if by magic. The librarians’ previous employment terms may not have survived in tact after the double hand-over. If so, it may prove very convenient for their new employers.
Coming to Croydon
- Edward Keszkiewicz art exhibition, Jan 21-Feb 1
- Lake Conan Doyle re-naming ceremony, Feb 1
- Give and Take Day, Surrey Street, Feb 1
- An audience with John O’Farrell, Feb 1
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Feb 3
- Babylon at the Spread Eagle Theatre, Feb 4-6
- Steve Knightly at Stanley Halls: Feb 5
- Purley Swimathon: Feb 8 and 13
- Mark Steel at Ashcroft Theatre, Feb 12
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Mr Pooter comes to Croydon, Feb 20-22
- Stop the Incinerator fund-raiser, Feb 24
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Mar 3
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 20
- Croydon Half-marathon, Mar 30
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