National Library of Wales ‘in turmoil’ claims union

THE NATIONAL Library of Wales is in turmoil, according to the First Division Association (FDA) on the eve of an employment tribunal. The Aberystwyth based library, one of six legal deposit libraries in the UK, has suffered from a series of recent disputes with trade unions, primarily over the lack of any pay rise for staff since 2009, and the chronic morale loss resulting from this.

Photo - Alex Tanton

Photo – Alex Tanton

The latest dispute surrounds the demotion of two senior staff over alleged mismanagement of a contract. Both Arwel Jones and Elwyn Williams were demoted two grades, reducing their pay by approximately 40%. The FDA, which represents senior civil servants, is supporting both men through the employment tribunal, and says that this is one of several issues affecting staff morale.

Paul Neilson, national officer for the FDA, said:

“Members of all three unions at the Library – the FDA, Prospect and PCS (the Public and Commercial Services Union) are shocked at the way Arwel and Elwyn have been treated.

“Their suspension and then demotion stemmed from concerns over a procurement exercise where there were some technical breaches. The Library accepts there was no question of fraud and that no money was lost as a result of the awarding of a printing contract worth around £75,000.

“Neither Arwel nor Elwyn had been involved in organising such a procurement exercise before, and they had not been offered any appropriate training.

“They did the best they could, but it is accepted there were technical breaches.

“The fact that since this incident occurred other members of staff have been offered training courses in procurement suggests to us that the Library acknowledges more could have been done from a training point of view in the past.”

Aled Gruffydd Jones, chief executive and librarian at the National Library, said:

“it would be wholly inappropriate for me to comment on the case to which Paul Neilson refers before the tribunal begins. We’ll be explaining our position in great detail at the tribunal itself, and I really do feel that it would be improper to pre-empt the judicial process.”

A strike ballot has been called by the unions.