Cultural quangos ‘lead to worsening conditions’ for staff in museums and libraries

SNP MSP Marco Biagi raised concerns about 'potential gaps in the working standards of workers'
SNP MSP Marco Biagi raised concerns about 'potential gaps in the working standards of workers'
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THE creation of cultural quangos to run museums and galleries around Scotland has led to a worsening of conditions for employees, MSPs were told today.

More than two thirds of Scotland’s councils have launched arms length bodies to run cultural and leisure services in an attempt to save money and improve efficiency.

However, a leader of the biggest union for council staff in Scotland claimed that employees in libraries and museums now had worse working conditions due to the transfer of powers from local authorities to the quangos.

Douglas Black, Unison regional organiser, speaking at Holyrood’s education and culture committee, said: “Protection is not in place in the majority of places, where we have seen a diminution of our members’ terms and conditions as well as a huge casualisation of the workforce.”

Mr Black’s comments came after he was asked by SNP MSP Marco Biagi at today’s Holyrood committee inquiry into the quangos about the impact of the changes on the workforce.

Mr Biagi said: “In talking about financial efficiency I hear from union reps about potential gaps in the working standards of workers.”

However, the head of a cultural trust claimed that employees who had initially been concerned about the shake-up in the way services were run now felt “more empowered” in their jobs.

Gerry Campbell, general manager, South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture, said: “When the transfer was going through there was a clear concern that some people had about whether they were going to have inferior conditions.

“People now feel a little bit more empowered. They are in a smaller organisation and do feel a little bit more involved.”