Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gallivating around the borough

Cheltenham Borough Council recently announced a new policy which will allow workers to spend up to 16 hours each year doing team-based or individual volunteering activities as paid time away from work.

This is a sensible decision - many organisations in the public and private sectors have similar kinds of policies, and it came from suggestions by employees, based on the experience which council workers gained while volunteering to help after the floods in 2007. The benefits include giving workers chances to learn new skills, improve their teamworking skills, help their local community and boost their confidence and make a difference. As the policy says, "Volunteering will help to get a wider perspective of some of the issues in the local community. It is important employees feel good about working for Cheltenham Borough Council. Employee volunteering helps to create a positive culture."

This is the sort of policy which obviously appeals to lefties - an organisation listening to its workers and building links with the wider community, but surely conservatives, with their calls for the public sector to learn from the work that charities do, would also support it? Let's see what our old friends the Taxpayer's Alliance have to say about this:

"Aargh! What is it with the lunatics in our Town Halls?<...> Now Cheltenham Borough Council are giving their council staff time off to do volunteer work. To rub salt in the taxpayers [sic] wound – they’ll be fully paid while they 'volunteer'.

You can read the story here.

On that note, please ask the Council leader, Cllr Stephen Jordan, why he thinks it’s acceptable for council workers to take fully-paid time off to gallivant around the borough on the taxpayer’s dime."

That last sentence is a revealing one, isn't it? In the world of the Taxpayer's Alliance, volunteering in the community is 'gallivating around the borough'.

And as for paying employees to volunteer, here's a few other organisations which are engaged in that 'lunacy' - Morgan Stanley, Accenture, Freemantle Media, Standard Bank, Goldman Sachs, UBS, BDO Stoy Hayward, Henderson Global Investors, Bank of New York Mellon, XL Capital, Investec, Barclays Capital, Ricoh Europe, BLP, Clifford Chance, Tate and Lyle, Reed Smith Richards Butler, Royal and Sun Alliance, BT and GlaxoSmithKline. Never mind financial advice, I certainly wouldn't take any advice on personnel issues from the Taxpayer's Alliance.

It's a sign of their real, warped and extremist agenda. They attack the public sector for adopting policies which are commonplace in the private sector, and barely bother to veil their contempt for people who give up their time to help others.

I suspect that the Taxpayer's Alliance does not have an employee volunteering policy, and I think it would be to their advantage if they did. They, and anyone else who is interested, can visit to search through more than 1,000,000 opportunities to volunteer. They'll be able to give something back to the local community, and they'll even get the chance to meet some real taxpayers.


At 4:56 pm , Blogger asquith said...

So long as it is genuinely voluntary, then good, & it will indeed be beneficial.

I am slightly dubious about it being paid time. I'd rather they allowed some form of flexitime & what have you, which many local authorities don't.

I am, as you may recall from previous comments, an enthusiast for voluntary work & think it would be good for the recently unemployed. But I am sceptical about the state getting its paws over everything, & I think if there is too much of this it will end up hindering the voluntary organisations.

But it does still strike me as on balance a good idea, despite my reservations. I certainly won't be listening to the TPA idiots on this or any other issue.


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