Barnet UNISON Library workers strike on 5th November


Dear Colleagues

Strike Action

Barnet UNISON has called for industrial action in Barnet Libraries on the following dates:

  • Saturday 5th of November 2016 
  • Saturday 12th of November 2016 
  • Monday 28th of November to Friday 3rd of December 2016

This is in pursuance of our dispute with the Council over the outsourcing of the Library Service. The Council plans to hand 4 of our Libraries to “Community groups, not-for-profit and voluntary organisations” in April 2017. The Council plans to outsource the remaining Libraries at a future date.

The Council will continue to explore the opportunity to develop an alternative model for the management of Library Services as part of a later phase of the Library Service review once the future model for the service is agreed by the Council.

(Appendix A: Future of Barnet Libraries 4.2.11 Alternative Delivery Models)

This has led to:

  • 50.3 Full Time Equivalent Posts to go. Colleagues to be informed that they will lose their jobs in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
  • Building work to reduce library space by 15% to 90% resulting in less stock, study and activities space.
  • Introduction of technology that is being used to replace staffed opening hours. Library staff will be on site only 30% of planned opening hours.

Colleagues remaining in the Library Service after April face:

  • Dealing with increased public dissatisfaction leading to more incidents of verbal and physical abuse. These are already on the increase.
  • Threat of further job losses/reduced hours and adverse terms and conditions as further outsourcing is implemented.
  • Changes to work patterns. This will increase travel costs and it will be harder to balance child and dependent care responsibilities with work.
  • Decline in usage of Libraries as help, advice, stock, space, accessibility and safety is reduced, leading to

To end our dispute we have called on the Council to:

  • Stop the outsourcing of  Libraries
  • Cancel the implementation of the  Barnet’s Future Library Service plan
  • Work with all stakeholders in the Library Service in producing a strategy that will minimise redundancies, and maintain and improve the quality and accessibility of Barnet Libraries.

However the Council has so far refused to meaningfully negotiate, leading us to resort to industrial action.

Ideology not Finance

The Council claims it is being forced into the Library changes by a need to cut £2,162 million from the Library Service budget by 2019/20. But it will spend over £7 million (and rising) in doing so.

If the Council were truly being forced into the Libraries cut by the need to save money, they would not have spent:

  • £500,000 donation to the RAF Museum. While this may be a worthy institution it is not the Council’s responsibility to provide funding, unlike the Library Service for which it has a legal duty.

The Council has funds which it chose not to spend on providing the Library (and other) Services. Its Library plan is ideologically driven by a wish to divest itself of its responsibilities in its drive for privatisation.

Why Resistance Works

Barnet UNISON and the Save Barnet Libraries Campaign have been resisting variants of the Council’s present plans for the Library Service since autumn 2014. In many other authorities Libraries, Library workers and Library users have suffered without any opposition. In Barnet we as Library workers, in alliance with other trade unionists and residents, have demonstrated, marched, leafleted, lobbied, used social media, organised petitions and taken industrial action. This has meant:

  • The postponementof the changes to the Library Service, originally to be implemented in April 2015.
  • Keeping Library workers in employment for a further two years.
  • Keeping Library opening hours staffed for a further two years.
  • Letting under 15/16 year olds have full access to Libraries for the past two years.
  • Stopping the reduction of Libraries to 540 square feet, the size of a large living room.
  • Making Libraries a major local issue.

What You Must Do Next 

The Library Restructure has not received its final approval from the Council.  This will be voted on in the General Functions Committee on the 6th of December.

The faults in the Library plan, long pointed out by UNISON, are becoming clearer to the public. To make the Council enter negotiations and to gain publicity for the Libraries issue you must strike. By not striking you will:

  • Let down the colleagues who are striking to defend your jobs and service.
  • Signal to the Council you will not resist attacks on your terms and conditions
  • Accept that you as a Library worker have no say in your future.

Strike Pay and Hardship Fund 

Further information on this will be sent out next week. The Branch should be able to see that no striker suffers harsh financial loss. Our last strike in June not only attracted messages of support but donations from trade unionists and campaigners across the country. 

National Demo

On the 5th of November join the National Demonstration for Libraries, Museums and Galleries (see attached)

  • Join with Library workers from across the UK who like you are facing attacks on their jobs.
  • Meet at the British Library at 12 noon. Look out for the Barnet Unison Banner.
  • Or meet outside Finchley Central Tube station at 10:45am to leave for Kings Cross at 11am.

(More details next week)

If you are on Facebook please invite your friends and ask them to invite their friends to this event. Please leave comments or details of why you are going to this event.

Twitter @5thNovDemo

#NoZombieLibraries #NoZombieMuseums #NoSkeletonStaff #Kids4Culture


Saturday 5th will be the first day of our renewed campaign to Save our Libraries.

If we fight we may not win, if we don’t then we will certainly lose.