Cutbacks in staff at libraries in Harrow are on their way despite new management, the Harrow Observer has learned.
Harrow Council transferred the day-to-day management of its 11 libraries to an arms-length management company in September, John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS), that was taken over by construction giant Carillion only the following month.
Tony Henderson, group media relations manager at Carillion said: “Announcements were made to staff on the November 20. The number of roles at risk will be confirmed during the consultation process. There are discussions with staff and their trade unions and no decisions have been made yet."
The announcement has sparked outrage from local trade union representatives, who have claimed they were not adequately consulted, and the Harrow branch of public sector UNISON claimed 29 posts would be lost.
A Harrow UNISON spokesman said: “It appears that drastic staffing reductions seem to be the only way in which private companies can seek profit from local authority services signalling a recipe of reduced service quality when public services are outsourced.”
A spokesman for Harrow Council said: “John Laing had already begun a review of staffing when the change to Carillion occurred – the arrival of Carillion has had no effect on the jobs review. The quality of the contract has remained unchanged and Harrow Council sought guarantees on that during the changeover.
“Even if the libraries service had remained in-house, the financial climate would have meant Harrow Council having to review the staffing position.”
There were 107 library staff who transferred from the council’s employment to JLIS as part of the outsourcing of the library management.
When Harrow Council’s then cabinet member for community and culture Councillor Nizam Ismail (Independent Labour) signed the contract with JLIS, he said: “We’re delighted that we have managed to secure a positive future for our library service.”