“COVID-19: How to make your workplace safe” Zoom meeting

Barnet UNISON as part of our Know Your Rights at Work campaign are hosting a

ZOOM meeting with NEU and GMB entitled:

“COVID-19: How to make your workplace safe”

Wednesday 27 May 6pm

Guest Speaker: Janet Newsham, Chair Hazards Campaign, sitting member of Employment Tribunal for past 25 years.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82640214991?pwd=cW01ZzhtTTJoeStjNWVVcGJSaEhqQT09

Meeting ID: 826 4021 4991

Password: 363400

 

Barnet UNISON welcomes the publication of the Barnet Council’s commissioned Library review.

British Library, Kings Cross.
March to protest about cuts to libraries, museums and the arts.
Barnet Unison were on the march along with striking Barnet library staff.
05/11/16 BP AMS

Barnet UNISON welcomes the publication of the Council’s commissioned Library review.

It is a thorough and detailed body of work and while we are not in total agreement with its findings or recommendations, we commend those who worked on it for its evidence based and independent approach. This included a willingness to engage with UNISON and Library workers.

This is an initial response from Barnet UNISON, focusing on the salient concerns to us a trade union.  Further and more detailed responses will follow as we consult with our members working in Barnet Libraries.

Much of the Review concurs with our warnings to the Council before and since the implementation of the current structure and operation of Barnet Libraries. We have been raising these concerns, which focus on the accessibility and the quality and breath of service since 2014.  However   the Council proceeded on their course and the resulting public dissatisfaction and restriction of access (particularly for children and people with disabilities) are plain to see in the Review’s findings.

Barnet UNISON is glad to see the professionalism and hard work of Library staff, at all levels recognised in the Review but   the continuing achievements of these workers is despite the Library Restructure of 2017 not because of those changes. Barnet Library workers have had to overcome significant challenges, including a reduction in numbers of almost 50%, the loss of public and work space, a disruptive working schedule and having to deal with the often justified but misdirected frustration and anger of the public.

Barnet UNISON fought a long campaign to defend the jobs of Library workers from 2014 to 2017.  This involved considerable effort and self-sacrifice by UNISON members working in Barnet Libraries. This campaign was not only about defending our members but a bid to maintain the quality and availability of libraries for the people who live, work, study and visit in Barnet. But regrettably many library workers lost their jobs in April 2017. In many cases this was a sad and premature end to decades-long careers.  These Library workers were sacrificed to the Council’s belief that their skills, knowledge and experience could be replaced by machines and volunteers

Nearly three years after this loss the   Review has found:

“The reduction in staffed opening hours has gone too far, particularly given the low number of volunteers. The reductions act as a deterrent to many library users from using the library and act as a particular barrier to young people who cannot access the library on their own during SSO hours if they do not meet the minimum age requirements.”

And

 

“The loss of staff and the fact that they move between libraries more makes it harder for users to develop positive relationships that support library use for all ages. This is not a criticism of staff. It is a loss for the community”

To help redress this the Review advises that the Council;

“To increase staffed opening hours by increasing staffing resources in the short to medium term at least until adequate numbers of volunteers can be recruited and the use of volunteers stabilised

UNISON support the increase in staffing resources but on a permanent basis. Even if “adequate numbers of Volunteers” are found they are not suitable replacements for Library staff

The Review also calls on the Council;

“To review the extent of budget reductions and explore the scope for additional investment in the service given the relative decline in the take-up of the service”

While the Council have published no plans for further cuts to the Library Service, the implementation of the Review’s recommendations would require additional funds being allocated to the Service. Attempting to implement the changes described without additional resources will result in further burdens and stress on an already overstretched work force.

 

Barnet UNISON ask the Council;

  • When and how will staffing resources be increased?
  • What additional funds will be allocated to the Library Service?
  • How will the Libraries be made more accessible to the public?
  • What measures will be put in place to more accurately record library usage?

 

Barnet UNISON hope the Review will spur the Council to at least begin to repairing the damage done to Barnet Libraries in 2017. Damage which our Union and others warned the Council would result from their Library strategy.  We call on the Council to truly engage with us and those who know the service best, Library workers, in making our Libraries truly fit for the 21rst Century.

 

Call out in solidarity for local democracy in Barnet 30 July 2019

On Tuesday 30 July 2019, 7pm in Hendon Town Hall, Barnet Council will vote on a proposal that in will restrict Barnet residents’ ability to ask questions and speak at future Council Committee meetings.

The London Borough of Barnet has a wealth of community activism which includes Barnet Bloggers (Mr Reasonable, Mrs Angry, Mr Mustard and Barnet Eye) and Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) to name just a few.

Their contributions over the last decade have largely been supportive of the services our members provide.

However, their contribution to future committees will virtually cease if the proposed rule change is passed at Full Council on 30 July 2019.

Barnet residents have responded by setting up a petition entitled “Stop Barnet Council From Gagging Residents”

You and read and sign in solidarity by clicking on this link here

https://t.co/P7sb0e3KNU?amp=1

Barnet UNISON is asking members to show solidarity by joining Barnet residents on Tuesday 30 July outside Hendon Town Hall from 6 pm onwards.

John McDonnell sends message of hope and solidarity

BREAKING NEWS: Shadow Chancellor sends message of hope and solidarity to Barnet UNISON and grassroots Labour Party members.

“I fully support the Barnet UNISON policy statement For A Better, Fairer, Democratically Accountable Barnet. The branch has mounted an inspirational decade long battle with a right wing ideological driven Tory Council determined to outsource all of its services. I send solidarity message to the branch and to Barnet Labour members who together will deliver a Labour Council to implement this policy statement. ” John McDonnell Shadow Chancellor

“I’m absolutely delighted that in his busy schedule John McDonnell has the time to send a message of Hope & Solidarity to Barnet UNISON members and grassroots Labour Party members who against the odds have delivered three marginal seats in Barnet. Our policy statement is a signal of intent to begin to address the damage done to our public services and the staff made redundant. Outsourcing has delivered in Barnet, but not in the way it was spun by consultants who grew rich on the millions paid by Barnet residents in the name of austerity. Hope for the many is within our grasp, austerity lite policies are not welcome here.”
John Burgess, Barnet UNISON Branch Secretary

For A Better, Fairer, Democratically Accountable Barnet.

For A Better, Fairer, Democratically Accountable Barnet.

1. AGENCY STAFF/CONSULTANTS
End the Council’s over reliance on agency staff and consultants, replacing these with Council employees.
Review Unified Reward and consider returning to GLPC.
CARE

Adopt UNISON ethical care charter.
(https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2013/11/On-line-Catalogue220142.pdf)

2. COLINDALE MOVE

Address and alleviate the problems caused by the forthcoming relocation of Barnet Council and Partner organisation staff to the new Colindale Office building.

3. HEALTH & SAFETY

Bring all the Council’s Health & Safety responsibilities back in to in-house control and monitoring.
Review Health & Safety arrangements in the Borough.

4. HOUSING

TBG Flex employees to be employed on Local Government T&C’s, Pay with access to Local Government Pension Scheme.
The Barnet Group to be brought back in-house.
End short term 2 & 5 year tenancies and reintroduce secure life time tenancies for all tenants.
End or limit Right to Buy and the subletting of Right to Buy properties
Increase Council home building.
Widen the availability of social housing within the Borough.
Resource the monitoring of housing where necessary to ensure it is fit for habitation.

5. LIBRARIES

Restore the pre-April 2017 level of staffed opening hours, with sufficient Library workers (in numbers, qualifications and experience) and resources.
Review the use of lost Library space with a view to returning to Library use.
Bring the Partnership Libraries back in-house.
Work with all stakeholders in the Library Service to produce a strategy that will maintain and improve the quality and accessibility of Barnet Libraries.

6. OUTSOURCING

No more Council services to be outsourced.
Work towards bringing services already outsourced back in-house including NSL.
Review Capita and other contracts with the aim of bring services back in-house.
Ensure that while outsourcing contracts are running they are properly overseen and these services are provided to the contracted level without incurring further cost to the Council.

7. PAY

Support the Trade Union (UNISON, GMB, Unite) NJC PAY CLAIM 2018 – 2019
Ensure that Council, partner organisation and contractor employees are paid at least the London Living Wage.
End Performance Related Pay.

8. SCHOOLS

52 week contracts for TAs and other support workers.
Oppose the establishment of academies.

9. STREET SCENE

Instigate a search within the Borough for a site (or sites?) for a depot (depots?) suitable for all Street Scene’s long-term needs?
Commit to the retention of Street Scene services in-house.
No more Council services to be outsourced.
Work towards bringing services already outsourced back in-house including NSL.
Review Capita and other contracts with the aim of bring services back in-house.
Ensure that while outsourcing contracts are running they are properly overseen and these services are provided to the contracted level without incurring further cost to the Council.

End.

Robot Wars: Barnet Libraries on the Eve of Destruction

Humans not Machines

What was once one of the finest public Library Services in the UK is about to undergo a transformation that will see it left in ruins. In 2002 Barnet won a Beacon Council award for libraries as a community resource, but since then successive restructures have seen staff numbers and service points cut. The decline will reach an all-time low in April 2017 when the newly restructured Library Service comes into operation.

In April the Library workforce will be reduced by almost half. The Council alleges that their skills, knowledge and experience can be replaced by volunteers and self-service machines.

Four Libraries will be handed over to charities and resident groups to be opened for only fifteen hours each a week.  The people of Mill Hill, South Friern, East Barnet and Childs Hill will lose direct access to a professional library service.

The Council will give these partnership libraries between £352,000 and £384,000 in grants for the first 3 years, money that would be better spent providing a service staffed and run by librarians and other real library workers.

The remaining Council-run libraries will have staff present only for a few hours on most days. Some days will be completely unstaffed. Under 15-years olds not accompanied by an adult will be unable to enter the libraries during these hours.

The Council seems unconcerned how this will affect the public, although aware that;

“The reduction in staffed opening hours will mean less support available in the library to get advice, information and to utilise the resources in the library. This will have the biggest impact on those who may require support to make best use of services at static library sites or are less able, or confident at using libraries without library staff support

 Barnet Future Library Service 5.9.10)

https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s30694/Barnets%20future%20Library%20Service.pdf

The Council claims that CCTV monitored from a control centre in Cardiff will be sufficient to maintain the safety and security of people using the Libraries. Barnet UNISON disagreed, and continues to disagree, with the Council, citing incidents of anti-social behaviour, physical and verbal abuse and theft that have occurred in libraries, the number of which would be far higher if library staff had not been on site to prevent them.  Barnet UNISON remains unconvinced that the emergency response systems the Council plans for unstaffed hours will be sufficient.

Libraries are also to be reduced in size by up to 90%, as space is hived off to be offered for rent to commercial and community groups. This will leave inadequate study, computer and events space in most libraries. With only a few days to go before the restructure the Council has confirmed only one organisation interested in renting.  Since 2014, when this plan was first announced, Barnet UNISON has been pointing out that the Council’s estimated rental income of £546,000 by 2019/20 is very unlikely to be met

The Council claims it is being forced into reducing Library staff numbers, space and direct control of all libraries because of the need to save £1.6 million from the Libraries Budget by 2020. But the Council allocated over £6.5 million to implement the changes. In December the Council made known it was allocating over £14 million for “library procurements”. On the 8th December 2016 Barnet UNISON asked the Council a number of questions regarding this “procurement” spend. Because the Council did not answer our questions in full we resubmitted them on the 16th January 2017 and on the 14th February 2017. We still await a meaningful response

This is a lot of money to be spent on reducing the assets, efficiency, accessibility and safety of a service.

Barnet UNISON and the Save Barnet Library Campaigns have argued with the Council for over two and a half years that a machine and volunteer dependant Library Service would lead to a decline. The Council’s own consultations with the public found little if any support for their plan.  But the Council has consistently failed to address these arguments instead repeating the mantra that no libraries in Barnet were being closed and that opening hours were being extended. But when the new Library structure is implemented in April opening hours will not be any longer than at present.  The promised extended opening hours are now being postponed until the autumn. Only five of the Council-run libraries will be open while building work to reduce library space is carried out and the four “partnership” Libraries will stagger their hours between them.

In April the people of Barnet will find their library service much reduced. It is likely that many current and potential library users, particularly children, will find Barnet Libraries hard to access, information and advice difficult to come by, containing very little study space and the range of stock and services a shadow of what was once on offer.  This is likely to lead to a decline in use and an excuse by the Council to close Libraries

Our members working in libraries will continue as they have done in the past to try and provide the best service they can. But their low numbers, limited staffed opening hours and lack of space will be insurmountable barriers. Barnet UNISON will strongly oppose any attempts by the Council to place blame on library staff for the decline in the Service and any attempt to shift responsibility for any harm resulting from unstaffed opening hours.

Our members will be the first in line to face the frustration of the public with the restructured Library Service, but those responsible are the present ruling administration of the Council. Public dissatisfaction with the Library Service is likely to grow and may well have an influence on how Barnet residents vote in the next local elections.

Barnet UNISON will continue to campaign for a restoration of the Library Service. The people of Barnet need and deserve a professional library service staffed by real library workers.

Barnet UNISON call on the Council to stop the restructure and work constructively with those people working in and using libraries and with the wider community to build a Library Service that can once again rightly claim to be one of the best in the UK.

Further details on the Library changes and the Barnet UNISON’s campaign to stop it can be found on.

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/?s=libraries

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Giving With One Hand And Taking With The Other”

Barnet Council Giving With One Hand And Taking With The Other

On January 23rd Barnet Council’s Adults and Safeguarding Committee voted to make cuts of £458,373 to Early Intervention and Prevention Services. These include ending the funding  to Inclusion Barnet (a local charity) to provide peer support planning and brokerage, which the Council claim will save £73, 261.5.

The Council’s reason for this is that there is lower level of use for this service than anticipated, and that this work can be done by Barnet Social workers.

This is despite  83% of those consulted, disagreeing with the move.

Yet this is the same Council that is giving Inclusion Barnet between £25, 000 and £35,000  a year to take over  the running of  East Barnet and South Friern Libraries, despite opposition to this voiced in consultations, petitions  and protests since 2014.

Barnet Council are  withdrawing funding to a  local charity with the necessary expertise. to provide a service well regarded by the public. Yet are giving this organisation, that has no experience of running libraries, funding to replace experienced and qualified library workers. Inclusion Barnet are losing funding to provide a service because of “low level of use” but the libraries the Charity will run will only be open 15 hours a week which will certainly reduce level of use.

There is little logic in this decision but reason is something not to be expected from an administration hell-bent on cutting services and reducing the quality of  life of  the people of Barnet.

 

Barnet Library Workers on Strike

Barnet library workers on strike

“Our members in Barnet have been at the sharp end, with the council outsourcing anything it can. The spirit shown by our library workers today is a tremendous example to us all.”

 

Dave Prentis UNISON General Secretary                                                                                                                                                                 

Dave Prentis takes support and solidarity to north London picket line in strike over plans to outsource library service

General secretary Dave Prentis with striking members and the Barnet UNISON banner outside The Library, in Barnet, north London

General secretary Dave Prentis took the union’s support and solidarity to striking library workers on the picket line in north London this morning.

“You have got our full support and if you need any help just let us know”  

 

Mr Prentis speaking to the #BarnetStrikers

 

The UNISON members were on the third day of their strike over Barnet council’s plans to outsource the borough’s library service.

“Council services up and down the country are under attack as the Tory government in Westminster piles still more cuts on five years of austerity,”

said Mr Prentis.

“Our members in Barnet have been at the sharp end, with the council outsourcing anything it can. The spirit shown by our library workers today is a tremendous example to us all.”

unison.barnet-library-workers-on-strike

#BarnetStrikers

#SaveBarnetLibraries

Standing up to the “easycouncil”

Standing up to the “easycouncil”

“The spirit shown by our library workers today is a tremendous example to us all – and we will stand by them as they fight for their jobs.”
Dave Prentis,
UNISON General Secretary

The assault on our public services in recent years has fallen hardest on local government – with libraries particularly under fire.

And there are few areas that have suffered greater attacks from their local authority than Barnet.

“You have got our full support and if you need any help just let us know”                                                                                                             Mr Prentis speaking to the #BarnetStrikers

So I was proud to be on the picket line alongside library workers today, taking the fight to the so-called Tory “easycouncil” and showing local people how severe and damaging the cuts to their local services really are.

Image

I spoke with activists Fiona Turnbull and Hugh Jordan (Barnet UNISON’s libraries convenor) about the sheer scale of job losses and service cuts being inflicted on an already bare bones service. At Chipping Barnet (where we met this morning) the library will lose 33 staff hours (down from 56.5 hours at present). Other libraries will lose more than half of their size and be reduced to volunteer only provision.

Services lost or weakened. Jobs cuts. And those in the community who need them most left to suffer.

“Our members in Barnet have been at the sharp end, with the council outsourcing anything it can. The spirit shown by our library workers today is a tremendous example to us all – and we will stand by them as they fight for their jobs.”

Dave Prentis,

UNISON General Secretary

unison – standing-up-to-the-easycouncil

#BarnetStrikers

#SaveBarnetLibraries

Defend the 10 libraries campaign – Message of Solidarity

‘Defend the 10 libraries campaign in Lambeth sends solidarity to all the library workers taking strike action this week to stop the destruction of the library service in Barnet.

With cuts, closures and privatisation of our library services up and down the country we know how important it is to stand up and fightback. Your action will not only help in the battle to stop Barnet’s plans but will also give heart to everyone who wants to see an end to the ongoing devastation of vital library services.

We wish you all the best! Your fight is our fight!’

Michaela Loebner  Defend the 10, Lambeth

save-libraries-march-mar-2016-01

 

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