Show me the money…again & again & again

The Cilip AGM is upon us shortly and members are being asked to dig deeply into financially shallow pockets yet again. In a post last year I argued against raising the subscription rate but was in a minority and the increase was passed. Unfortunately, it seems Cilip is determined to treat members as milch cows despite the job losses and limit on public sector pay.

I think the debate over fees was lost amongst the changes to the governance model last year and unfortunately might well be again this year as the focus will be on the proposal to oppose the amateurisation of the public library services.

But the ever increasing subscription rates is an important issue that should be given greater prominence.

The current fee for those earning more than £17,501 is £204 with a proposed increase to £208 from 2016. Since 2010 subscription fees will have increased from £184 to £208 (if agreed) representing an increase of 13% and the fourth time they will have been raised in a relatively short time.

Now set this against a background of pay freezes and pay caps for public sector workers, including library staff, over the past 5 years. Many librarians have felt the full impact of the austerity measures not only in terms of job losses but also in rising living costs. The government has announced that public sector pay will be capped once again at 1% until 2018. But the 1% is not guaranteed. Greg Hands, chief secretary to the Treasury has stated that the rise should be paid in a ‘targeted manner’ with some workers getting more and others getting less than the 1%.

The change to subscriptions not only affects professionally qualified librarians but also many experienced staff who apply for ACLIP status as they have to pay the same rates. These staff are likely to be on the lower end of the subscription band and tend to be part-time workers. In fact throughout public libraries underemployment is a real issue limiting the amount of disposable income.

For library staff who have suffered derisory pay rises during the past few years the cost of membership is a major investment. With this in mind Cilip should be looking at ways of freezing or reducing fees rather than putting an additional burden on members.

One of the inequities is that the subscription band for most members ranges from £17,501 – £42,00. This is far too broad and members have repeatedly requested that different bands be created with a more equitable sliding scale. This has not happened and I suspect there will be many who will ask if the investment in membership, particularly in public libraries, justifies the cost and decide to vote with their feet. For an organisation that struggles to retain members this continuing increase in fees is not a sustainable policy.

Needless to say I will not be supporting the subscription increase and hope that others also question the need to do so during difficult financial times for members.

Addendum

As part of the justification for the increase the subscription proposal argues that:

“Wage inflation is varied with general wage inflation reportedly being 3.5%, however at the same time I am well aware that some members in the public sector will have had no inflation increase.”

However, as a recent story in the Financial Times recognised this rise is driven by private sector pay and bonuses. Thus, the above claim is misleading and a far cry from what public sector workers, who face a pay cap of 1% until 2018, can expect.

 

6 thoughts on “Show me the money…again & again & again

  1. Pingback: Library News Round-up: 11 September 2015 | The Library Campaign

  2. Hi Leon

    Why don’t you do as I did? Contact them and tackle them. You will see that they have no conception as to what is going on. I have never met an organisation so out of touch.

    It was not easy to leave as you are held to ransom by the charter – but I as I said in an earlier comment – their attitude and inaction about what happened in Moray, compared with what they claim to stand for left me no alternative.

    Robin

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    • Hi Robin, I am in the process of contacting Cilip about this. I think the rationale in the financial report is pretty unconvincing. I have long thought that the charter, which requires us to be politically neutral is more an hindrance than a help. In all honesty being chartered nowadays does not carry the kudos and weight it once did so I would happily sacrifice it to effect more effective advocacy. Unfortunately, many have thought like yourself and voted with their feet. I hope one day Cilip becomes the organisation we need it to be and you feel it is worth joining once more. Moray was a wonderful library service and the staff there brilliant. I have great memories of Forres and Elgin libraries and was bitterly disappointed with the cuts and approach the council took. I understand they have got rid of the HoS and have not replaced him, which is a great pity.

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      • Thanks Leon. Yes if it were not in part for the Moray Library service I would not have got where I am today. I feel heart sorry for poor Alistair. Have you Moray connections?

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      • Yes, worked in Moray for a couple of years. Great library service and wonderful area to live in. Lucky to know both Alistair & Sheila. Great pity how he and the service was treated.

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