You might have read here earlier this week about plans by Greenwich borough’s libraries staff to strike from Friday. Members of the Unite union are protesting about the way Greenwich Council has decided to transfer the service to Greenwich Leisure Limited from next week.
GLL managing director Mark Sesnan got in touch yesterday with the company’s point of view. Here’s what he said – your thoughts and questions, as ever, would be appreciated.
Having read the recent blogs on the transfer of the operation of the Libraries service to us at GLL, I feel it is important to put some of the facts straight.
GLL is a charitable Social Enterprise with s cooperative governance structure born from Greenwich Council and based in Greenwich. We are HQ’d on the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich and our Head Office function brings more than 100 additional good jobs to the borough servicing our (now) extensive operations across London.
GLL has operated the Borough’s leisure centres since set up in 1993 and Greenwich Borough now enjoys one of London’s best used and most comprehensive network of centres. Pricing policies include free swimming for kids and Kids for a Quid, and more than 20,000 financially disadvantaged adults in the borough pay half price or less. Greenwich has the London’s best GP physical activity referral scheme and we take our reponsibility for the activity agenda very seriously.
When Greenwich Council re-tendered its leisure services it issued a public notice in February 2011 which was clear that Libraries operation externalisation was also being considered. This was no secret to staff, users or trades unions.
GLL is passionate about the provision of good accessible public services. We want to see facilities open at weekends, in the evenings, on bank holidays and when more people can access them.
We also think that libraries, like leisure centres, should have good catering, creche and good transport links as well as extensive access to new technology, plenty of study space and a good relevant book stock.
We are very much looking forward to taking over the service and giving the Borough a library service which is second to none in the Capital.
Of course, the staff in Greenwich libraries will be apprehensive about any changes, this is natural. They need not worry really though, because GLL is a staff owned cooperative and ultimately they (the library staff) will be responsible for their own part of the service.
I cannot answer for the trades union view, although it seems to me that striking because yor employer has changed – even though your employment rights and terms and conditions are guaranteed by law – is not really going to get us anywhere.
Whilst writing this, I would also like to point out that the ‘company’ Meridian Link, of which I am pleased to be a Director is in fact a registered charity dedicated to bringing sport and educational opportunities to young people in Tema, Ghana which is Greenwich’s twin town as it is also on the Greenwich meridian.
GLL is happy to respond to any questions about our role in the Borough, we have no hidden agendas. We stand for good services, good jobs and good people.
Thanks to Mark Sesnan for taking the time to write. So, what do people who use Greenwich’s libraries (or those who used to use them but now don’t), and those who work in them, think? It’s over to you…