Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Grading of SINTO staff

I have always used the SINTO Blog to write about maters of general professional interest or for news of what SINTO is doing. This blog is on a personal issue but does raise issues that will be of concern to SINTO members.

SINTO is an independent body set up and run by its members. It is administered by Sheffield City Council, and the SINTO staff - myself as Director and the SINTO Assistant - are employed by SCC. However all the costs of SINTO, including staff costs, are covered by the income raised by SINTO from subscriptions, donations and charges for events.

Last year SCC carried out a Pay and Grading review (later renamed the Equal Pay Review). This proposed that the grades of the SINTO Director and SINTO Assistant should be reduced. I am facing a reduction of c£1,500 pa and the Assistant post 0f c£910 pa (FTE).

So far I have regarded this as an internal matter. I have discussed it with the SINTO Executive Board and have been preparing an appeal against the regrading. However the review process has been delayed and I feel that the issue should be brought to the attention of SINTO members. To explain my position I am reproducing the text of an e-mail I have sent to Cllr Sylvia Dunkerly who is the SCC cabinet member with responsibility for libraries.

Dear Sylvia
I should apologise for the timing of my lobbying you over the Pay and Gradings review. Yesterday's evening at the Central Library was a celebration of the library service and your speech was very well received. However I do not apologise for what I said and I believe that this is an urgent issue that Sheffield City Council needs to deal with and that members should be aware of how staff feel.I believe that the review has become a debacle. My anger is mainly because of the delays in the appeal procedure. I am of course aggrieved by the decision to downgrade my post as SINTO Director and the post of SINTO Assistant. SINTO as you know is an independent organisation administered by Sheffield City Council. It is self-funding and the income I generate covers all our costs including staff costs. There will be no cost saving to SCC from the downgrading. The Council claims that the downgrading is not to save costs but reflects the duties and responsibilities of the post. I reject this argument and do not believe that the Council has any evidence to justify this decision. In my post as Director of SINTO, which I have held for 12 years, I am directly responsible to our member organisations - library and information services throughout the region. If I did not provide the level of service that these organisations require I would have been dismissed from my post by the SINTO Executive or the libraries would have withdrawn from SINTO membership. They are clearly satisfied with my performance at the salary that was originally decided by SINTO. What grounds does the Council have for overturning the decision of the SINTO members?

Having said that, I accept that the Council was entitled to go through this process and make a decision as long as it enabled an equitable review process. We were promised in a letter of 19th November 2009 that a review meeting "will be arranged and the date confirmed to you in writing within 4 weeks of the final date for receipt of all Appeal Request Forms. This will be in January 2010". It is now February. No further correspondence has been received about the reviews. The latest update on the SCC intranet is dated 7 December.Justice delayed is justice denied. My strong sense of grievance about the original decision has been exacerbated by the delay in holding the appeal meetings. The inability of the Council to organise the process on time undermines my confidence in its fairness. As I said to you yesterday, if I ran SINTO as badly as Sheffield City Council is running the Pay and Grading review I would expect to be sacked!

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