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2015 Community Service Group Conference
7 November 2014

Conference reiterates our belief, set out in Motion 11 at Community Conference 2010, that volunteers play a valuable role in many areas of society, including in the community and voluntary sector and in trade unions.

We agreed that “Conference believes that paid staff and volunteering roles are different, and volunteering should not be used by employers as a means of reducing professional, fully-trained, paid staff, especially in the delivery of public services. Volunteering roles should complement and be a supplement to paid roles, not replace them, and commissioning to the voluntary sector should not take place on the basis of staff losing their jobs.”

However, Conference believes that the situation in the sector has deteriorated since 2010. There are now examples of whole services being commissioned to be delivered by volunteers; and volunteers being used to run the ‘back-office’ functions of organisations. Some of the individual benefits of volunteering, including personal development, will also be undermined if volunteering coordinator posts are reduced. The general public also expects publically funded services to be delivered by qualified staff.

Substituting volunteers for staff starts by undercutting the proper role of paid and trained staff, and undermining our bargaining strength to achieve decent terms and conditions for workers in the sector. But very formal volunteer agreements can then lead to volunteers acquiring employment rights. In addition, whilst organisations are liable for the health and safety of volunteers; and volunteers need relevant Disclosure and Barring Service checks when working with vulnerable people; they do not have the same protection as workers under equality legislation.

This emerging mess is driven by chronic cost cutting from unnecessary and counter-productive austerity measures.

This conference calls on the Community Service Group Executive to:

1) Re-publicise the Charter for Strengthening Relations Between Paid Staff and Volunteers, agreed between the TUC and Volunteering England.

2) Work with activists, branches and regions to encourage employers to implement the principles of the charter

3) Defend the jobs of members against attempts to replace them with volunteers.

4) Attempt to further identify the scope and nature of volunteering in the sector, and report back to Community Conference 2016.