News

Lewisham library volunteers on workfare scheme

Some volunteers working in a Lewisham library are there under the “workfare” scheme which will cancel their benefit payments unless they undertake the work.

Sydenham Library, which was taken out of local authority control and is now run by Eco Computer Systems, a charity and social enterprise which recycles computers for disadvantaged people, has benefited from several Mandatory Work Activity volunteers, assisting with administrative jobs and other tasks.

Boycott Workfare, which opposes the scheme and urges companies and charities not to make use of it, said: “The only community engagement [in Sydenham] now appears to be is forcing people to work for free.”

However Darren Taylor, c.e.o. of Eco, responded: “These placement are young people who have no or little experience, and this is not just work experience, it is also training... if they don’t want to be at Eco and gain experience and qualifications then we don’t force them to be with us.”

Eco took control of Sydenham along with two other libraries in May 2010, as Lewisham Council looked to save £88m from its overall budget. Opening hours at the libraries have increased.

The news comes in the same week that Arts Council England released its research into community libraries, estimating that 12% could have community involvement in the near future. Library campaigners have criticised the report for paving the way for a “two-tier library service”.

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This is so messed up it makes my brain scream and my head hurt.

I am trying to get this striaght.

So, sack trained staff then get people to do their job for nothing or for benefits paid out by the state. Paid for by the same state that cuts authority spending so that people are told "we can't afford to pay you to do your job so off you go". These experienced staff then watch on from the dole queue as their jobs are done by the erm "unemployed".

How does this even save money? except for Eco Computers! where is the logic in any of this. It is utterly utterly mad.

If a job is there to do then pay someone to do it!

What does message does the above bonkers situation give out? that "experienced people are not needed or valued thank you very much so we sack them"..."but wait, there is a lot of inexperienced people who can't find jobs..let's train them up whilst also telling people experienced people are not needed thank you very much and we do not intend to pay a proper wage"...it is a sick cycle and does not help anyone. Where are the library jobs for these newly trained up people to go to? There aren't any because "we don't need trained people thank you very much..." and authorities and the government are shedding the public library service workforce at an alarming rate. While Eco Computers get free labour. It is exploitative.
How is this legal, moral or acceptable in any way? There have always been places for volunteers in libraries so they can get work experience and increase their job prospects...but to replace paid staff with them is a disgrace. Shame on Eco Computers and shame on Lewisham. I don't know how they can sleep at night and my heart goes out to the skilled people who have lost their jobs.

This is so messed up it makes my brain scream and my head hurt.

I am trying to get this striaght.

So, sack trained staff then get people to do their job for nothing or for benefits paid out by the state. Paid for by the same state that cuts authority spending so that people are told "we can't afford to pay you to do your job so off you go". These experienced staff then watch on from the dole queue as their jobs are done by the erm "unemployed".

How does this even save money? except for Eco Computers! where is the logic in any of this. It is utterly utterly mad.

If a job is there to do then pay someone to do it!

What does message does the above bonkers situation give out? that "experienced people are not needed or valued thank you very much so we sack them"..."but wait, there is a lot of inexperienced people who can't find jobs..let's train them up whilst also telling people experienced people are not needed thank you very much and we do not intend to pay a proper wage"...it is a sick cycle and does not help anyone. Where are the library jobs for these newly trained up people to go to? There aren't any because "we don't need trained people thank you very much..." and authorities and the government are shedding the public library service workforce at an alarming rate. While Eco Computers get free labour. It is exploitative.
How is this legal, moral or acceptable in any way? There have always been places for volunteers in libraries so they can get work experience and increase their job prospects...but to replace paid staff with them is a disgrace. Shame on Eco Computers and shame on Lewisham. I don't know how they can sleep at night and my heart goes out to the skilled people who have lost their jobs.