The Member Resolution passed at the 2019 AGM provided us with a welcome chance to reflect on CILIP’s Employer Partner scheme.
We believe an organisational membership scheme is key to the future of CILIP, and to ensuring the future of the profession. It encourages employers to value and invest in professional skills and provides CILIP with vital funds. These funds allow us to deliver on our mission, achieve our charitable objectives and keep CILIP membership affordable.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank those responsible for raising their concerns, and we appreciate the time they spent ensuring correct policies and procedures were followed.
How was the scheme developed?
The Organisation Member scheme, renamed the Employer Partner scheme in 2018, was established in 2015. It was introduced after research found members wanted CILIP to build stronger relationships with employers, to ensure they understand the importance of valuing and investing in professional skills.
The scheme has delivered on this, and has enabled CILIP to work with sector employers in a more structured and consistent way as well as diversify income.
What does the scheme look like today?
One of CILIP’s long-term objectives is to ensure the creation and longevity of high-quality, secure and well-paid jobs for librarians, information and knowledge managers. The Employer Partner scheme contributes to this by providing employers with the means to upskill their staff, encourage them in Professional Registration and ensure they engage with CPD.
It also gives CILIP the opportunity to ensure the training, learning and development opportunities we provide fit with the needs of employers. In turn, this ensures our members are best-placed to secure jobs, promotions and development opportunities.
The scheme does not influence our ability to respond to disputes. We respond to disputes as a professional association, not a trade union. Membership of the scheme does not imply endorsement of every decision taken by an Employer Partner. CILIP decides whether to respond to disputes on a case-by-case basis, and a CILIP Employer Partner being involved has no bearing on whether we decide to respond.
We have reviewed the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme to ensure they make clear that membership of the Employer Partner scheme does not offer implicit or explicit control over CILIP’s decision making. New members of the scheme will be introduced under these revised Terms, and all existing members will be transferred onto them at their renewal point (we can’t transfer them before their renewal date as they are contractually linked to the previous Terms and Conditions).
However, we recognise that CILIP does need a mechanism for deciding which disputes we respond to. We have instructed CILIP Senior Leadership Team to form a Policy Committee as a delegated Committee of the Board. The Policy Committee will take responsibility for producing policies for CILIP including a Policy on intervention in and responses to industrial disputes.
We have instructed the CILIP Executive and Senior Leadership Team to implement the Resolution as follows:
1. To offer a full and public answer to each of the questions raised in appendix 1 of the second Open Letter opposing this manifestation of the "Employer Partner" scheme. These answers should reflect CILIP's official stance and/or policy for each query. Where CILIP believes the issue is covered as a matter of public record it should give stable links, line citations, and offer a clarifying statement of how it is interpreting this public record, in order to answer the legitimate queries of the membership.
This has been published and is available here.
2. For CILIP to carry out a full membership-wide consultation exercise on the "Employer Partner" model. This consultation should be specific about the features and implementation of the scheme and not a reference to earlier, broad-natured consultation exercises such as Shaping the Future. This consultation should include amongst its outcomes the option for members to reject the model in favour of its predecessor (organisational membership) or an alternative.
We will undertake a Member Consultation on the Employer Partner scheme during 2020. The aim of the consultation will be to ensure members are empowered to help us develop the scheme. Specifically, we will consult members on the positioning of the scheme (CILIP Employer Partners as opposed to ‘Organisational Members’). The findings of the consultation will form part of the Annual Delivery Plan for 2021.
3. For CILIP to include in its policies a democratic vote on any organisation granted partnership to CILIP under this scheme or any equivalent. As a democratic and member-led organisation, CILIP members should be empowered to control decisions on who our organisation is partnered with. This democratic process must be retrospectively applied to any existing or “transferred” organisation in any scheme referred to as partnership. Fees charged to employer partners should be displayed clearly and transparently on the CILIP website alongside individual membership fees.
While we agree with the authors of the resolution that CILIP must remain a democratic, member-led organisation, we don’t feel we can implement the request for a member-wide vote on each Employer Partner. We are grateful for the clarification at the AGM that the resolution isn’t intended to create a popularity contest, but we believe that may still be the result. If that were to happen, it’s likely we would find it difficult to maintain effective working relationships with sector employers. In turn, that would have a significant impact on CILIP’s ability to achieve our mission.
Having said that, we understand members may want to voice concerns about a specific Employer Partner. As such, we will be implementing a specific Employer Partner complaints procedure.
Please see our response to point four for more information on the proposed new complaints procedure.
4. To establish a meaningful mechanism that allows the membership to effectively challenge and/or revoke the partnership status of any organisation that is shown to act against the interests of library, information and knowledge workers (members or non-members), the profession as a whole, or in contravention of CILIP’s ethical framework. Within the investigation or assessment of these challenges, the non-board/executive membership should act as the majority council.
The Board agree that there must be a mechanism by which members can raise concerns about an Employer Partner. We have reviewed the existing complaints procedure and do not believe it is appropriate for this purpose. Therefore, we have mandated the CILIP Senior Leadership Team to create a new, purpose-specific procedure (the EP-specific Complaints Procedure).
Complaints submitted via the EP-specific Complaints Procedure will be reviewed and adjudicated on by the Board. We understand the importance of ensuring members are front and centre of adjudicating complaints, but the Board comprises members who are elected by the membership partly to bear legal accountability for the organisation. They take responsibility for entering into contracts for the provision of services (including membership) so the final decision must be theirs. We would like to take this opportunity to encourage any member to stand for the board, information on how to do this will be included in the regular e-newsletter.
To ensure the Board are able to review and adjudicate fairly on any EP complaints submitted by members, complaints should be based on a clear framework. To this end, the CILIP Board has approved an Institutional Ethical Framework, to be appended to the new Ethical Framework.
All new and existing Employer Partners will be asked to confirm their adherence to the Institutional Ethical Framework as part of their joining or renewals process, which therefore provides a basis on which reasonable challenges may be raised.
From 1st December, information about applicant members of the scheme at Premium level will be shared electronically with CILIP SLT for additional scrutiny. This is in case any specific applicant raises concerns in relation to our Risk Register or eligibility criteria, and because becoming ‘Premium’ Employer Partners involves a higher degree of engagement with CILIP. The same process will apply at their annual renewal. All new members of the scheme will be shared regularly with the CILIP Board and published along with the framework for raising concerns about the eligibility of members of the scheme. This will allow the Board and the membership full transparency and the opportunity to raise eligibility concerns.
5. For CILIP to make a clear and public statement on its position when any conflict arises between its partners and library, information and knowledge workers. This must be specific to each case and should also be retrospective. A statement addressing the current three-month long strike action by GLL Library Workers in Bromley Libraries should be produced, iterating clearly whether CILIP supports the workers or the employer in this instance.
We note the request to produce a specific statement on the dispute between GLL and Unite members in Bromley Libraries including whether CILIP supports the workers or the employer in this instance. In the absence of a current policy on intervention in 3rd party industrial disputes, we decide whether and how to respond on a case-by-case basis.
In the case of the Bromley GLL dispute, we have not been able to secure sufficient clarity on the subject of the dispute or the negotiations over its resolution to reach a firm view on our position. This is why we issued a broad statement calling on all parties to come together to resolve the dispute in the interests of library users.
In the case of UCU, having reviewed the arguments put forward, we reached the conclusion that a statement of solidarity would be appropriate in light of the general agreement about the labour and employments issues raised.
The point raised has provided a welcome opportunity to reflect on CILIP’s position, which is why we are adopting an overall policy which will allow us to be more transparent on this in future.