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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book your Pensions Seminars now – Barnet UNISON

Barnet UNISON is proud to be able to offer a Pensions Seminar for UNISON members.

The seminar would include the following:

  • Understanding changes to Local Government Pension Scheme
  • Understanding Career Average Benefit – with an example
  • Tips for Good Housekeeping
  • Understanding and Checking Annual Benefit Statement
  • Opportunity for further consultation through 1 to 1 meeting
  • The above areas will answer members’ questions around the effect of Unified Reward on LG Pensions.
  • The seminar and Q & A will normally last up to 90 minutes.

If you would like to take up this offer for your workplace/school please contact the Barnet UNISON office, on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Let us help: Barnet UNISON plea to School Support Staff

You are worth it.

You are entitled to be treated like any other member of staff in your school.

Everyone in a school contributes to a healthy education environment in which children can thrive.

I am making my plea out of frustration.

I have spent the last six months working through outstanding grading appeals and pay issues for Barnet Council workers, but not school staff.

In the last three months I have started on my list of School Support Staff who are in need of support and advice concerning their pay.

The difference in working environments is appalling and unfair. The rest of the Council workforce have been subject to cuts and mass outsourcing, but in relation to their pay and grading the application has been without pressure.

BUT, in schools it is oh so different.

Why must some Schools always refer to budget cuts and letting staff go?

Why do some Schools complain about not being involved when they were?

Why are School Support Staff left to feel that they are wrong to challenge the grade, in most cases they are losing money, and they don’t earn much money anyway.

I have never seen equivalent fear like it in a workplace, grown women and men with huge life experience are sometimes too scared to let the union fight their corner for fear of reprisals.

Barnet UNISON will not be going anywhere and will continue to offer our fullest support for all of our support staff.

If you work in a school and need our help please contact the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

*** IMPORTANT Performance Reviews – Moderation period

The Performance Review is rapidly becoming the Number 1 issue for our members working for Barnet Council.

When the Council first started talking about the Unified Reward scheme they used this slide.

As you see the colour scheme has been replaced with new ratings. However, members are reporting that whereas they had previously been rated as Green they are now being rated as Satisfactory.

It appears that managers are rating Green as Satisfactory which is not what UNISON and the staff attending the briefings were expecting.

Moderation.

Between April and June moderation panels will be taking place to look at the ratings. This means your rating could still change. Lastly, you do not need to sign or agree your Performance Review.

Barnet UNISON is asking members to contact the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk if they are unhappy with their Performance Review.

“Outsourcingitus vaccine discovered” by Barnet UNISON

“I am so proud of our branch who have effectively been working round the clock for the last 9 years and to finally have discovered the antidote to this vicious and harmful virus will bring hope to others.  I know from bitter personal experience that “outsourcingitus” is very contagious and damaging to the health and wellbeing of members and to the services this virus feeds off. As many know we had a serious outbreak between 2012- 2014 where a large number of staff were affected as were residents. We intensified our efforts and at one point the branch nearly disappeared completely, incredibly we are still here despite all the odds; which I believe is all down to the dedicated and hardworking Unison reps. Finally I must point out that we are still in the early stages of creating a vaccine, but if anyone out there would like to take part in our trials please do not hesitate to contact the branch. Solidarity.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.

 

Solidarity statement 4 John Burgess

Standing up against Bullies of People with Mental Health Issues

We know John made it public knowledge that he suffered a serious mental health breakdown last year. Whatever anyone may think about such a revelation surely it should not attract a vindictive attempt to undermine his mental health.

Unfortunately John has recently received an email seemingly calculated to undermine his mental health. We will not stand by in silence whilst someone in our movement is bullied in this way.

By signing this statement we are expressing our solidarity with John Burgess and our disgust at this opportunistic and calculated attack on someone recovering from a serious health condition.

Please go to this link to read a fuller story about this attack: https://johnburgess001.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/hate-crime-why-i-reported-it-to-police.html

Name, Position,  Organisation or branch

  1. John McDonnell MP Shadow Chancellor
  2. Mark SERWOTKA PCS General Secretary
  3. ‪Ian Hodson President BFAWU ‬
  4. Petros Elia General Secretary United Voices of the World
  5. John Hendy QC
  6. Helen Davies Branch Chair Barnet UNISON and NEC.
  7. Hugh Jordan Libraries Convenor Barnet UNISON.
  8. Patrick Hunter Convenor Barnet Unison.
  9. Maggi Myland Barnet UNISON Retired member
  10. Chris Jobson Barnet UNISON Rep.
  11. Sid Ronayne Barnet UNISON Rep.
  12. Claire Locke Chair London Metropolitan University UNISON
  13. Claire Dixon Branch Secretary, UNISON Whittington Hospital branch
  14. John Harris Ex Chair UNISON Whittington Hospital branch
  15. Alex Lines Chair UNISON Whittington Hospital branch
  16. Jackie Taylor UNISON Whittington Hospital branch
  17. Sonya Howard Branch Secretary, UNISON Kensington & Chelsea, NEC
  18. Phoebe Watkins Branch Co-Chair Camden UNISON
  19. Hugo Pierre Schools Convenor Camden UNISON , NEC
  20. Amerit Rait Shop Steward UNISON Whittington Hospital branch
  21. Brian Debus Chair Hackney UNISON
  22. Alex Tarry Branch Secretary London Metropolitan University UNISON
  23. Tony Phillips Branch Secretary UNISON London Fire Authority
  24. Diana Swingler UNISON rep Homerton UNISON
  25. Tanya Murat Convenor Greenwich UNISON
  26. Sandy Nichol SOAS UNISON Branch Secretary
  27. Philip Lewis, Camden UNISON Vice Chair & Branch Health & Safety officer & Convenor supporting people directorate, UNISON Regional Health & Safety Comm. Vice Chair Unison NHSC
  28. Paula Peters DPAC activist, member of Mental Health Resistance Network and Equalities Officer SE London Unite Community
  29. Esther Rey Hounslow UNISON joint branch secretary
  30. Floyd Codlin, PCS Arms, PCS Culture GEC
  31. Tim O’Dell, Libraries shop steward, Lambeth
  32. Linda Burnip, DPAC co-founder and UNISON member
  33. Karen Raynor, Customer Support Assistant, Unison Steward for Bradford Libraries.
  34. Dave Honeybone, Doncaster District and Bassetlaw health steward.
  35. George Binette, Camden UNISON Branch Secretary & Chair, Camden TC
  36. Dean Ryan: Shop Steward Islington Unison.
  37. Sasha Simic, Shop Steward USDAW C133 Central Books branch.
  38. Ruth Cashman, Branch Secretary Lambeth UNISON.
  39. Brad Charteris, Psychotherapist.
  40. Gareth Lane BFAWU community organiser.
  41. Ben Sellers, Secretary, County Durham Trades Union Council.
  42. Dave Auger Wolverhampton deputy branch sec
  43. Sara Wright, Middlesex University Branch, Branch Chair.
  44. Roger Hutt, Doncaster and Bassetlaw steward
  45. Alan Wylie, Unison member & campaigner
  46. Bob Ellard, DPAC
  47. Arthur Nicoll, Communications Officer – Dundee City Unison, Scottish LG Cttee
  48. John Sullivan parent of an adult daughter with learning difficulties , John has spent years fighting for along with her peers and her support staff.
  49. Andy Squires Doncaster and Bassetlaw Health Branch.
  50. Jenny Compton-Bishop Middlesex University Retired Member
  51. Caroline Powls Member Brent Unison
  52. Janette Evans secretary Barnet Branch Unite community , member Mental Health Resistance Network.
  53. Sid Ronayne Barnet UNISON steward.
  54. Adrian Kennett Hull Unison
  55. Jon Rogers, UNISON NEC.
  56. Candy Udwin PCS National Gallery.
  57. John McLoughlin Branch Secretary/SGE Tower Hamlets UNISON
  58. Dan Sartin Branch Secretary West Sussex UNISON
  59. Ron Cohen CWU member
  60. David Ball Steward Barnet UNISON
  61. Theresa Musgrove Broken Barnet Blog
  62. Derek Dishman blogger “Mr Mustard”
  63. A.M. Poppy Barnet Activist
  64. Dave Knight Retired Waltham Forest UNISON
  65. Sarah Littlewood Deputy Branch Secretary Hull LG Branch
  66. Janet Bryan NEC Branch Treasurer Convenor Bolton UNISON
  67. Paul Couchman Deputy Branch Secretary Surrey County UNISON
  68. Sherril Johnston NSL steward Barnet UNISON
  69. Rebecca Call Women’s Officer Wirral UNISON
  70. Ian Davies Community Member Scunthorpe
  71. Ian Thomas Health SGE UNISON Wales
  72. Tony Staunton UNITE member
  73. Raymie Kiernan NUJ member
  74. Mike Calvert Deputy Branch Secretary Islington UNISON
  75. Martin Clark FE college steward Glasgow City UNISON
  76. Mark Evans Branch Secretary Camarthenshire County UNISON
  77. Florence Hill Retired Branch Chair Bolton UNISON
  78. Jane Doolan Branch Secretary Islington UNISON
  79. Steve Day Branch secretary BFAWU
  80. Kevin Ward Labour Link officer Middlesex University UNISON
  81. Ben Jackson Branch secretary pc Manchester Community and Mental Health UNISON
  82. Barry Blinko retired member Westminster University
  83. Karen Reissmann member/ NEC pc Bolton Salford Trafford UNISON
  84. Liz James steward Barnet UNISON
  85. Stephen Wood Hillingdon UNISON
  86. Osman Ahmed Sade ULR rep UNISON
  87. Suzy Franklin honorary President Plymouth Trade Council 2017 – former UNISON Health branch secretary (Plymouth Derriford Hospital Health branch)  NEC southwest and staunch John Burgess supporter
  88. Keith Wilcox Hillingdon UNISON
  89. Raymundo Obedencio Barnet Green Party
  90. Philippa Whitecross
  91. Matt Ratcliffe Branch Secretary Hillingdon UNISON
  92. Sharon Benjamin Assistant Branch Secretary Hillingdon UNISON
  93. Jo Cardwell Vice Chair Islington UNISON
  94. Gary Padgett Lincolnshire County UNISON
  95. Lorna Solomon Branch Chair Homerton UNISON
  96. Megan Charlton Secretary Durham Teaching assistants UNISON
  97. Liz Wheatley Assistant Branch Secretary Camden UNISON
  98. Roger Lewis Assistant Branch Secretary pc Lambeth UNISON
  99. Shirley Franklin Chair Defend Whittington Hospital coalition
  100. Theresa Rollinson Health SGE pc Doncaster and Bassetlaw UNISON
  101. Keith Martin Former chief accountant NALGO
  102. Jenny Leow Homerton UNISON
  103. Jordan Rivera Branch Secretary Homerton UNISON
  104. Jim Board Branch Secretary Doncaster UNISON
  105. Yunus Bakhsh formerly branch secretary Newcastle City Health UNISON; Northern region NEC and Health SGE 25 years a psychiatric nurse
  106. Sharon Campion Joint branch secretary/ SGE Sandwell UNISON
  107. John Woods Branch Chair Portsmouth City UNISON
  108. Tirza Waisel Adult social worker Chair Barnet Communities UNITE
  109. George Shaw Barnet Communities UNITE
  110. Phil Fletcher Barnet Communities UNITE; Friends of the Earth; Barnet Green Party
  111. Kathy Smith Bromley Unite rep
  112. Paul Gilroy Branch Secretary Newcastle City UNISON LG & UNISON NEC
  113. Max Watson, Unite the Union, SE London Community Branch (previously UNISON NEC, 2010-2015)
  114. Tracey Leith, Shetland Branch, Chair
  115. Jennie Haswell, Branch Health and Safety Officer, Wakefield District Branch of Unison
  116. Trish Fay member of County Durham Teaching Assistants Action Committee
  117. Louis Smyth Barnet Schools Officer – solidarity John
  118. Clara Paillard PCS President
  119. Professor Dexter Whitfield Director, European Services Strategy Unit
  120. Graham Eddy ex unison branch sec Northumberland lg and asst branch sec tower hamlets unison.
  121. Gemma Short, Workers’ Liberty. My solidarity.
  122. Ruth Nyman Barnet UNISON Retired member.
  123. Jonathan Dunning, UNISON NEC and Norfolk Branch Secretary. 
  124. Sandra Greenyer, Children’s Centre Manager
  125. Alphonsa M.K. Alby, Barnet social worker
  126. Hilary Price Barnet UNISON member.
  127. Tracey Lowe, Barnet UNISON Retired member.
  128. Tracy Cumberbatch, Underhill School and Children’s Centre.
  129. Izzi Azgadj
  130. Jan McLachlan.
  131. Steve North Branch Secretary, Salford City UNISON.
  132. Mary Beer-Cleasby, small business owner, BECTU member &Save Barnet Libraries.
  133. Andrew Travers, Joint Branch Secretary, Unison Medway Health.
  134. Vicky Perrin school steward Calderdale Branch, YH NEC member (pc)
  135. Craig Martin, schools convener, UNISON Dorset County.
  136. Eddie Rowley london met uni unison steward.
  137. David Summers London Met Unison Asst Branch Secretary. 
  138. John McDermott UNISON steward. Bradford.
  139. Vino Sangarapillai Camden Unison. 
  140. Polly Smith- chair Suffolk County UNISON ,nec (pc)
  141. Rena Neophytou, Barnet UNISON member.
  142. Nick Jackman, Barnet UNISON member
  143. Janet Mead, Barnet UNISON member.
  144. David Halls, Unison Birmingham Branch – retired member.
  145. Mark Dee Smith, Luton TUC.
  146. Sue Plain Southwark UNISON Branch Secretary.
  147. April Ashley UNISON Black members rep and Assistant Branch Secretary Southwark (pc).
  148. Bernie Gallagher, Bolton LG and NEC.
  149. Maddie Cooper UNISON.
  150. Fiona Monkman, Islington UNISON.
  151. David Mackintosh Unison rep for Assist Barnet homes
  152. Kieran Lynch Barnet UNISON Retired member
  153. David Lindsay, Lanchester, County Durham.
  154. Adam Driscoll Barnet UNISON member.

 

Barnet UNISON votes to seek lawful national dispute over the School Budget cuts

Support our School Staff members

This Branch Executive Committee notes:

1.    This statement which came out 13 December 2016:

“State schools in England will have to find £3bn in savings by 2019-20, says the public spending watchdog. Schools face 8% budget cuts and about 60% of secondary schools already have deficits, warns a funding analysis from the National Audit Office (NAO).”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-38301843

2.      Our branch has received an unusually large number of requests from schools seeking consultation over redundancies.

3.      The cuts budget is a national agenda which being fought at a local level.

4.      School support staff are often a significant proportion (30-50%) of the membership of UNISON local government branches.

5.      The formation of a new Education trade union which will bring teachers and school support staff into one union.

6.      The disputes by Derby City and Durham UNISON teaching assistants against the imposition of pay cuts through term-time only contracts.

7.      The impressive public support those teaching assistants have received for their strike action.

This BEC believes:

1.    School support staff are particularly vulnerable to redundancies but there is then a knock-on effect for the rest of the school when jobs are cut.

2.    The scale of the problem, the speed of the consultations and the general lack of confidence amongst school support staff means it is incredibly difficult to organise effective, or any resistance to cuts in posts at individual schools as a result of the overall cut in the schools budget.

3.    The cuts budget is a national agenda which should be fought at a national level.

4.    The issue of term-time only pay should be made into a national dispute.

5.    Fighting cuts and defending public services is popular with the public.

This BEC resolves:

1.    To continue supporting and encouraging all and any colleagues fighting job losses and pay cuts on a local level.

2.    To call on UNISON to seek a way of registering a lawful national dispute over the School Budget cuts and begin the mobilisation of all of our members working in schools for a strike ballot.

3.    To call on UNISON to seek urgent talks with sister unions to attempt to coordinate joint national strike action over the School Budget Cuts.

4.    To send this motion to National Local Government conference 2017.

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