I think we need to remind ourselves that there are basic volunteering principles at risk of roughshod riding.
In 1990 a working party consisting of:
Mr Geoffrey Drain Treasurer, The Volunteer Centre UK (Chair)
Mr Clifford Blundell Association of Directors of Social Services
Ms Vera Burns National Association of Voluntary Help Organisers
Mr Bob Dickson National Association of Volunteer Bureaux
Ms Ann Gibson Manufacturing Science Finance Union
Ms Romayne Hutchison Advance
Ms Kathryn Johnson Transport and General Workers' Union
Mr Allan Kerr National Union of Public Employees
Mr Gordon Lishman Age Concern England
Mr Hugh Robertson National and Local Government Officers' Association
Mr Justin Davis Smith The Volunteer Centre UK (Secretary)
Ms Margaret Wheeler Confederation of Health Service Employees
Ms Elaine Willis The Volunteer Centre UK
recommended that:1. Voluntary activity should complement the work of paid staff, not substitute for it.
As a general principle volunteers should not substitute for paid employees, nor intentionally or unintentionally undermine their terms and conditions of service. However, it is not possible to make hard and fast rules about what work is suitable for paid employees and what is suitable for volunteers and the practical implications of this statement need to be worked out at local level.
The contracting out of services by local authorities may lead to organisation which involve volunteers taking a larger role in direct service provision. However, volunteers should not be used as a cheap source of labour to reduce tender costs and to secure contracts as this exploits both paid workers and volunteers.
2. The action of volunteers should not threaten the livelihood of paid staff.
On occasions, voluntary activity implemented without proper consultation has threatened the jobs of paid staff and/or has had repercussions on earning levels. Such activity, however well intentioned, can only lead to a deterioration in industrial relations and result in a poorer service. However, there will be situations in which organisational changes incorporating new notions of care might involve the use of volunteers in ways which could affect the interests of groups of paid employees. Also the contracting out of local authority run services to organisation involving volunteers might have a detrimental effect on some local authority paid staff. In all such cases negotiations should take place between the relevant organisation with a view to reaching agreement to safeguard the existing terms and conditions of trades union members as well as the interests of volunteers.“Coming up to date, on 26/11/2009, The Culture section of the European Parliament in their ‘More EU Support for Volunteering’ debate, said volunteering is:
”Not a substitute for paid work or social services
"... volunteering should not be regarded as "a substitute for paid work", "a means of meeting basic needs normally met by social services" or "a substitute for action by the public authorities"."
I think those principles are precious in any civilised society and we should take care what we do.