Monday, 18 February 2008

SSG on BBC Look East

A 2 minute news item about the Norwich and Cambridge SSG shops was broadcast on BBC Look East tonight. You can watch it via the latest stories page on the Look East site, or this should be a direct link. Several former SPCK staff speak in the piece as does Phil Brewer. The Norwich shop is reported as not opening today despite the sign on the door saying it would do.

A transcript for those who can't see the video:

The sign says it all. New staff are needed at both East Anglian shops. The Norwich branch was due to reopen today, but customers were met with the lights off. Jim Channell and four other staff were fired by e-mail after refusing to sign new contracts.

Jim Channell: That effectively puts all our part timers on zero hours, it means that overtime for all staff is completely unpaid, and it also means, I am absolutely certain, that we would not be able to do any event which wasn't Eastern Orthodox in style or content.

The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge was set up in 1698 by Anglican priest Thomas Bray. Two years ago all twenty three bookshops were sold to an Eastern Orthodox charity called St Stephen the Great. Run by two Texan brothers, they deny they've acted improperly and say they've operated within UK employment law.

Phil Brewer: When people say well it would be nice if we did this and it would be nice to do that, absolutely, it would be nice if everybody got up every day and didn't have to work and, you know, didn't have to worry about pay cheques etcetera, but the bottom line is is that there has to be fiscal constraints to all decisions.

Lucy Sparrow worked in the Cambridge shop for 19 years. She says the problems are more than just about staff contracts.

Lucy Sparrow: We weren't being allowed to order any stock, and so when it gets to Christmas, no general Christmas stock in the shop, no general Easter stock in the shop now. It gets down to that sort of level - you can't actually do your job.

It's not know when the Norwich branch will reopen. The staff complaints are now being investigated by the Shopworker's Union.

Louise Holmes, BBC Look East

Various technical asides: If anyone knows how to save a BBC Realplayer clip let me know. I have recorded it on my phone, but that will be rubbish. Also, if you try to watch the programme via "See the latest programme in full" you may not find it as it seemed only to be on the BBC Cambridgeshire version. I've learnt a lot about BBC Look East tonight.

Please excuse previous complex instructions, since deleted.

In related news:

• There was no sign of life at the Sheffield shop today from what I've heard. A sign on the
door promised it would reopen today, Monday the 18th of February.
• The Facebook group "A group for all those people who mourn the tragic demise of SPCK
" is now up to 200 members. If you are on Facebook and would like to join or
invite some people who might feel the same way then please do.

No comments: