Join us – I Daniel Blake with Ken Loach

Fight Austerity

 

Barnet UNISON is proud to be able to screen ‘I Daniel Blake’ in our local community cinema the Phoenix in East Finchley on Tuesday 28 February.

We are absolutely delighted that our long-time supporter Ken Loach has agreed to join a Q & A with DPAC’s Paula Peters, who will be interviewed by Aditya Chakraborrty senior economics commentator for the Guardian.

See flyer and poster for details.Flyer

 

Useful links

Phoenix Cinema – East Finchley

https://phoenixcinema.co.uk/PhoenixCinema.dll/Home

Accessibility at Phoenix http://phoenixcinema.co.uk/PhoenixCinema.dll/Page?PageID=3&SubListID=1&SubPageID=1

I, Daniel Blake trailers

https://youtu.be/ahWgxw9E_h4

I, Daniel Blake – Official Trailer I HD I Sundance Selects

https://youtu.be/f4KbJLpu7yo

Ken Loach: life in austerity Britain is ‘consciously cruel’

https://youtu.be/-V7Iaycp5IU

barnet_idanielblake_28Feb2017_A5_2ppAditya Chakrabortty https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/19/lives-torn-apart-assets-labour-privatisation-north-london-haringey

Download our poster here

barnet_idanielblake_28Feb2017_A4_poster

Barnet UNISON sends solidarity & donations to grassroots members in struggle

Last week at our branch executive meeting our reps had a report on a number of grassroots struggles taking place across the UK.

I am proud to say that there was no hesitation in wanting to send solidarity messages and donations to these grassroots campaigns. Our branch has been in ongoing struggles for over a decade. We have had tremendous acts of support and solidarity from UNISON reps and members not just in the London region but right across our union. We have learnt the importance of solidarity.

I can say from experience just how valuable it is to be able to read out messages of solidarity from other grassroots members to members on picket lines. It imbues a feeling of confidence that is badly needed when you are under attack.

Here are the campaigns we sent solidarity and or sent donations.

  • Kinsley 3 campaign
  • Derby TAs
  • Durham TA’s
  • Glasgow UNISON members: IT workers and Janitors
  • Kirklees Social Workers
  • Aslef, RMT, TSSA workers
  • PCS members working at the Employment and Human Rights Office

 

John Burgess

Branch Secretary

Barnet UNISON

Barnet UNISON social media channels – have a look

Stand up to RacismIt has always been important to us that we are able to communicate with our members. Technology is changing so much it can be difficult to keep up. We know a good proportion of our members are reading news on their phones which is why we are trying to ensure we keep our news up to date.

We do use all forms of communications, its never either or in Barnet it’s let do what we can.

We hold UNISON meetings, 1:1’s, produce leaflets, send out our weekly eNEWS email, regularly update our website, text messaging, Facebook and Twitter, produce videos on our You Tube account and upload our pictures on Flickr.

Have a look.

Website: http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/

Twitter: @barnet_unison

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BarnetUNISON/

You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/branchsec

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/cameraroll

Join the “National Save our NHS demonstration – 4 March”

“The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with faith to fight for it.”
(Nye Bevan)Barnet UNISON loves our NHS and sends solidarity to all NHS workers.

Our branch will be marching and we are encouraging our community to join us.

The NHS is in a serious crisis and NEEDS our support.

Our branch in its own small way is hosting an event on

Saturday 25 February called “Sing your Heart out 4 the NHS”

It will start off with some NHS workers explaining about the attacks the NHS are facing and why we must join the national NHS demonstration on 4 March

Details on our flyer here http://bit.ly/2iooKiL

Several of our Barnet UNISON members will be singing in solidarity for the NHS & all of the staff.

The singers will be supported by the Hit n Run band.

It looks like it will be a great night out so why not join us in solidarity for the NHS.

Saturday 25 February 2017, 8pm to 12am

Venue: Midland Hotel, 29 Station Road,

Hendon, London NW4 4PN

 

 

Farewell Anaclet Kofi – We miss you already

“We had sad news early this week with the announcement of the death of one of our reps: Anaclet Kofi. He was known as being quiet and unassuming yet this is to be contrasted with the fact that with the help of the branch he organised traffic wardens (old term – new term: civil enforcement officers) to take strike action opposing outsourcing, and he spoke on a number of times at UNISON conference addressing up to 2,000 people. All of this with English as a third language! Frances O’Grady (TUC General Secretary) said the pressure on wages is not from migrant workers but unorganised workers and Anaclet certainly understood this and he organised. He will be missed.”

Helen Davies Barnet UNISON Branch Chair

“Last week I learnt that we lost a good Barnet UNISON comrade Anaclet Kofi. I have spent a few hours combing through our vast photograph database to find some pictures of Anaclet. He was a very active rep in our branch and was part of the heroic team of reps who had to deal with the mass outsourcing here in Barnet dating back to 2008.

He also worked in Parking and personally expereinced a number of very serious incidents whilst carrying out his job yet he always seemed able to maintain a calmness and a smile.

Anaclet will be sorely missed, not just by his family, but by his former work colleagues, and those of us who had the good fortune to work with him in Barnet UNISON.

Anaclet attended a number of UNISON conferences, he was never daunted by the prospect of addressing 2,000 delegates in order that he could speak about what was happening here in Barnet.

Analcet did not need any union training to understand solidarity he had it naturally. He understood why we marched not just here in Barnet but on other demonstrations and rallies. He was an active part of Barnet UNISON mobilising and organising and representing members in what is a very difficult workplace.

Along with the many photographs I found a short video clip of Anaclet speaking about why he was taking part in the National Pension Strike which you can listen to here.

It is nice to hear his voice. This is the friendly and helpful Anaclet we will all remember.

It is his funeral on Saturday 28 January at 10 am at Islington and Camden Cemetery (East Finchley) 278, High Road, East Finchley. London N2 9AG

After the burial, a light refreshment will be offered from 14:00 till 19:30 at The Kings Cross Baptist Church, Vernon Square, Kings Cross, London WC1X 9EP

Anaclet Kofi RIP.”

John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.

A Festive Solidarity message to Barnet UNISON members from John McDonnell

festive-solidarity-j-2

“Dear Barnet UNISON members, I want to pass on my personal message of solidarity to you all. I have shared a long association with your branch. I have had the honour to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of your members on picket lines, protests and demonstrations including the now infamous Barnet Spring march which took place in a blizzard. I admire your members’ resolve and relentlessness in facing up to your Council’s ideological obsession with mass outsourcing. I particularly want to salute the Barnet UNISON Library workers who have fought a two year battle to defend your Library Services, some of whom are facing redundancy. It has been a constant source of inspiration to see how your branch has worked in solidarity with your community to fight austerity. I know some public sector workers thankfully provide services throughout the festive season, but I hope that you all find some time to relax and enjoy a moment or two of celebration with your family and friends. Solidarity and hope to meet you all in 2017.”

John McDonnell Shadow Chancellor 

 

 

 

 

 

Barnet Council Libraries: “Transformation or Destruction?”

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

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.

Barnet UNISON’s response to Barnet Council Libraries Services Transformation Programme

(Report to the General Functions Committee 6.12.2016)

UNISON remains opposed to the planned reorganisation of Barnet Libraries.

This reorganisation will in our view (and we are not lawyers) see the Council failing to comply with its legal duty

“to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof,” (Public Libraries and Museums Act (1964). (7 (1))

The Council itself admits that the efficiency and accessibility of the Service will be adversely impacted:
“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

Risks associated with the Restructure

The Council has proclaimed it will keep all libraries open but the Library restructure will have detrimental effects on individual libraries, the Service as a whole and the people who work in and use Barnet Libraries. The Restructure derives from a perspective that sees libraries as being little more than book collection points, which can be operated in the main through self-service machines. The quality, accessibility, and range of the services that libraries provide are being undervalued and the safety of the public put at risk.

Reduction of a Skilled Workforce

The planned restructure requires the loss of almost half of the current library posts, resulting in nearly 30 permanent library staff losing their jobs. This is a workforce that has consistently scored more than 90% for good service in surveys of public satisfaction. The Council believes staff can be replaced by the outsourcing of four libraries to the voluntary sector and using other volunteers and self-service machines in the remaining sites.

Staff Recruitment
The Council acknowledges that future recruitment to Barnet Libraries (much reduced) staffing complement will be difficult.

“Suitable candidates may not be recruited at the required level for the new libraries structure or may not be recruited in a timely fashion resulting in delays in future design and implementation phases.” (Libraries Service Transformation Programme )

The Council is already having difficulty recruiting, and a large number of front line posts are currently filled by agency staff. Since the 2013 restructure the Council has failed to fill all 7 FTE posts in the Service Development Team (the remaining professional librarian posts in the service). This is despite 25% of UK professional librarian and other library jobs being lost in the last 6 years*. Barnet Libraries in its present and planned forms is proving unattractive as a workplace to library professionals and para-professionals.

* http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-35707956

There is little prospect for career development for those staff that do remain in Barnet Libraries. The programme to support library staff to gain a CILIP recognised Library qualification was ended by the Council in 2013 and will not be reinstated. This effectively blocks the generally accepted career path for UK Library staff to Barnet workers. Barnet Library staff without such qualifications who are appointed to internal posts where this is usually a prerequisite elsewhere are unlikely to progress their career outside the borough. Barnet Council’s record of Library cuts also makes internal career progression less likely.

Short to Mid Term Closures

Major building alterations are also underway even before the General Functions Committee has voted its approval. Library space is being reduced and the interiors of libraries converted to other usage. The introduction of technology facilitating unstaffed library opening hours also requires major work. But the changes may not be implemented by the April deadline.

“Whilst the implementation date for this restructure is 1 April 2017, the committee is advised that transitional arrangements may be necessary to compensate for vacant positions, possible redundancies and handover of duties between current and future roles.”
(Libraries Services Transformation Programme: Summary)

Previous experience of library alterations, and the installation of the unstaffed library technology for the Edgware pilot, shows that work does not always run to time. It is possible, with even minor delays, that 10 Barnet libraries could be closed for building work in April 2017. Even if the timetable is adhered to the people of Barnet will be deprived of the use of many libraries during the coming months:

December 2016 2 libraries closed – Chipping Barnet, Mill Hill

• January 2017 3 libraries closed – Chipping Barnet, East Barnet, South Friern

• February 2017 8 libraries closed – Burnt Oak, Childs Hill, East Barnet, Edgware, Golders Green, North Finchley, Osidge, South Friern

• March 2017 6 libraries closed – Burnt Oak, Edgware, Golders Green, North Finchley Osidge, South Friern

• April 2017 4 libraries closed – East Finchley, Hendon, North Finchley, Osidge

• May 2017 2 libraries closed – East Finchley, Hendon

• June 2017 2 libraries closed – East Finchley, Hendon

• Chipping Barnet will also have further closures for building work in June to August 2017.

Loss of Library Space

The restructure involves building work to reduce library space by at least 15% to a maximum of 90%. This will result in less stock and fewer study and activities spaces. The Council’s intent is to rent out most of the lost space or hand it over to other Council departments or to partner organisations. UNISON is unconvinced that all the space will be used. No compelling business plan has been put forward for commercial renting and it is unlikely that a significant amount of money will be raised.

Children Discouraged

Children will be greatly disadvantaged by the Library restructure. Libraries will be unstaffed for most of their opening hours and under 15 year olds not with an adult will not be able to get into a Barnet Library. Even those who have a parent or other adult to accompany them to a library will not be able to make use of the advice of library staff during 70% of opening hours when those staff will not be present. Some children and their parents may not be discouraged by these barriers but the loss of children’s library space and stock will not be an incentive to visit.

Outsourcing

Four Barnet Libraries are to be handed over to “Community-Led” organisations and will be staffed by volunteers. This will mean that the people of Mill Hill, Childs Hill, South Friern and East Barnet will not have direct and local access to the skills, knowledge, experience and expertise of library staff. No matter how well intentioned volunteers are they are unlikely to be able to provide the level of service currently provided in Barnet Libraries. The Libraries Services Transformation Programme report does not mention this outsourcing of 4 Barnet Libraries. The organisations which have been successful in bidding to take over these sites have not been disclosed, nor have dates been given for the takeovers.

Safety

During the seven months up to November 2016 Barnet UNISON received four reports of physical assaults (2 on staff and 2 on members of the public) in Libraries. There were also 27 reports of aggressive behaviour and verbal abuse, with victims being equally divided between staff and public. But not all incidents (including thefts) are reported to UNISON so the real figures are likely to be higher.

Library staff have had to step in to prevent incidents of anti-social behaviour escalating and have had to deal with medical emergencies on occasion. Situations our colleagues have to deal with include preventing fights and calming arguments between members of the public, dealing with people under the influence of alcohol and drugs, library users viewing pornography on computers, members of the public urinating and defaecating on library furniture and floors, racial and homophobic abuse and threats of sexual assault.

But the vast majority of library users are unaware of this level of anti-social behaviour. This is because libraries are safe places to visit in the main, not least due to the vigilance and response of library staff. But library staff will not be present for 70% of future opening hours. The Council believes that during unstaffed hours the safety of the public can be left to remotely monitored CCTV. The Council’s assurance of a thirty minute response time to an incident shows either callousness towards the safety of library users or wilful ignorance of the risk of unstaffed opening hours in a public space.

The High Cost of the Library Changes

The Council claims that a need to make cuts to overall Council spending is the rationale behind the Library Restructure.

“By 2019/20 the Library Service revenue budget will have been reduced by £1.6m as part of the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy.“
(Libraries Services Transformation Programme: 5:2)

However the above report makes no mention of the costs of implementing the restructure. These have previously been reported by the Council as:

Cost of changes Reference £millions
Reconfiguration of libraries (para5.3.3) 3.00
Technology enabled opening (para 5.3.4) 1.41
Redundancy costs (para 5.5.5) 1.500
Phase 1 (para 5.7.3 ) 0.400
Phase 2 (para 5.6.2) 0.375
Phase 3 no estimate provided
Total 6.685

(Source: Barnet’s future Library Service, March, 2016)

There is also a further cost of £75,000 per year for monitored CCTV

Costs associated with the Library Service have also been published in the Council’s Annual Procurement Plan 2017/18.

These are:

• Libraries Construction £12,000,000
• Office furniture, fixtures and equipment £100, 000
• Shelving and other library furniture, fixtures and equipment £500,000
• Legal £250,000
• Communication £25,000
• Removals £250,000
• Surveys & Consultants £250,000
• Technical Services £250,000
• Statutory Services £5000, 000
Total £14,125,000

(Source: http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s36302/Appendix%201%20-%20Annual%20Procurement%20Forward%20Plan%202017-18.pdf)

The Construction spend will begin at the start of the next financial year, 1rst April 2017. The other procurements began on 1st December and must relate to the restructure in the short and mid-term. These latter come to a total of £2,125, 000

From 2014 the Council has already spent money planning and implementing the library changes. Barnet UNISON asks why this and the spending outlined above were not included in the Libraries Services Transformation Programme report to the General Function Committee.

Other Council Spending

Barnet Council intends to spend over £14 million on altering the library service with the avowed aim of saving £1.6 million by 2019/20. The Council claims it has no option but to cut the Library Budget, yet money has been found to fund £59,747,631 million on agency staff/consultants in the last four years.

And the Council is on target to spend over £20 million on agency staff/consultants by the end of the current financial year in April.

Conclusion

A large amount of money is being spent in transforming Barnet Libraries into a poor shadow of what was once one of the leading library services in the UK.

The Council’s plans for the Library Service will lead to a decline in use. Libraries will only have trained and experienced library staff on site to help and advise the public for around 15 hours a week. Library stock and the events they hold will be greatly reduced. Children will have their access reduced and libraries will become unsafe. This is not an attractive offer to the public and will lead to fewer people using them. The fall in numbers may then be given as a justification for eventual library closures. However these may only be announced after the next local government election.

Further Reading

Watch “Last call 4 Barnet Libraries” https://youtu.be/GiXBKDS-aAU

Further Response to the Library Restructure Staff Consultation

Unstaffed Libraries – Unsafe and Unproven

http://www.european-services-strategy.org.uk/publications/public-bodies/transformation-and-public-service-reform/options-appraisals/direct-and-collateral-damage-to-barnet-librari/barnet-libraries-unison-march-2016.pdf

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