Saturday, 3 November 2007

Durham Cathedral SPCK

There has been drama at the Durham Cathedral Shop, one of the former SPCK shops. This is the Press release from St Stephen the Great (thanks to Annie):

Mrs. Carole Burrows, manager of the Durham Cathedral Shop, has resigned her position, effective 31 October 2007. According to Mark Brewer, chairman and CEO, "Mrs. Burrows served the charity with competence and aplomb, and she will be greatly missed by the staff and customers of the shop." He said that the charity had agreed to transfer the operations of the Cathedral Shop to Mrs. Burrows and expressed regret that this had not gone through. Saint Stephen the Great's president, Mr. Phil W. Brewer will serve as interim manager of Durham Cathedral Shop which is the flagship shop of the chain. Meanwhile, qualified candidates are being actively sought and interviewed for the position of permanent manager. In 2006, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge transferred ownership of the Durham Cathedral Shop as well as 22 other shops to Saint Stephen the Great. Commenting on the Durham shop Mark Brewer said, "Saint Stephen the Great considers it a great privilege to serve as the 'face' of Durham Cathedral through our operation of the Cathedral Shop. We seek to be a part of the pastoral ministry to both the Cathedral's visitors and to the employees of the Cathedral Shop." Saint Stephen the Great is an Orthodox Christian lay charity. It aims to share Jesus Christ's love and saving grace in a society suffering from the stress of a modern world engulfed by secularism. It seeks to do this by distribution of Christian literature and restoration of redundant churches for Orthodox Christian worship.

However, from the comments elsewhere on this site, Pax Vobiscum gives a different view:

A press release was issued on 2 November 2007 by J. Mark Brewer stating that 'Mrs Carole Burrows, manager of the Durham Cathedral Shop, has resigned her position, effective 31 October 2007.'

He then goes on to say some gushing things about Mrs Burrows qualities (so true, she is a brilliant bookseller and caring person) and that the charity had agreed to transfer the operations of the Cathedral Shop to Mrs Burrows and expressed regret that this had not gone through.

HOWEVER - and you knew that was coming - this is not the case at all. Mrs Burrows, who was trying to work with her solicitors on a proper affordable deal to take over the shop - a deal instigated by the Brewers and not by her - was told by Mr M Brewer that she must either accept his deal (with no amendments) or clear her desk within the hour. As the deal offered was not affordable she didn't have much choice. That is not resigning - that is being sacked.

So, 2 members of the staff representative body who were trying to work with ACAS on legal contracts have now been booted out.

I think you will be hearing more about this story in coming days, if not hours.

Also from veritas in the comments below:

The Brewers say that Carol Burrows has resigned. I saw the press release. Carole says she was fired. Being told to "clear your desk and take nothing with you" does not sound like a resignation to me. Nobody who has spent time with Carole can imagine that she's a quitter. She stood up for part-time workers who were set, via the new contract, to become casual workers with enormous financial ramifications for them. And nobody should doubt that Carole has been anything but loyal to the SPCK cause. I'm left wondering why the Brewers need to be advertising for a new manager? Do they want another "yes boss" person in charge so that the shop can be further decimated and will that new person be on the forum discussing new contracts. Oh dear, I forgot! Durham is special isn't it - apparently whoever is in charge can delete the directives sent via e-mail to other bookshops because "Durham is the jewel in the crown." Well the jewel in the crown has books on the shelves face up rather than spine up so that the shelves can look full. Some jewel!

Some further news. Nigel Oakley launched his book, "Engaging Politics?" in the bookshop. By all accounts it was a fantastic evening thanks to the staff members who stayed behind after working hours without pay. It's what dedicated people do. Unfortunately, the bookshop staff could not order the book because the publishers had not been paid. Nigel had to buy copies himself and the bookshop had to pay him. This is no secret. Bishop Tom Wright told this to the synod members today. Bishop Tom is launching a book at the Durham shop soon. Wonder if he'll have to buy copies too?

I don't think this is the last we will hear of this story.

Surprisingly, given that it is 'the flagship shop of the chain', the Durham shop does not currently appear on the map on the bookshops page of the SPCKOnline site:

The red arrow is mine by the way. Oddly though it does appear on the SPCK Bookshops site. I've no idea whether this has significance.

On a related but probably less important note the web address was registered by the Dean and Chapter of Durham cathedral on the 29th of October just gone, perhaps because they thought the shop was about to turn independent. It is only being used for email thus far though - the web address doesn't bring up a webpage.

[You'll get these results if you put the domain into any domain registrar website (and have nothing better to do):]
Domain name:

The Dean & Chapter of Durham Cathedral

Registrant's address:
Chapter Office
The College

Onyx Internet Ltd [Tag = ONYX]

Relevant dates:
Registered on: 29-Oct-2007
Renewal date: 29-Oct-2009

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