Barnet Libraries dispute

17 October 2014

Dear Colleagues

The Council will announce the options under consideration for the Library Service on the 20th of October. These plans were originally to be disclosed to Library staff at meeting to be held at NLBP.

UNISON welcomed this meeting as an indication that the consultation process with staff would be conducted in an equable and meaningful manner.

However the Council has since decided to call off this meeting and replace it with a series of onsite meetings on the 20th of October, each lasting half an hour.

By calling off the meeting of all Library staff the Council are;

· Not treating Library workers in an equal manner to our colleagues in other Council services, who have been able to attend service-wide meetings on their futures.

· Hampering the provision of Trade Union representation at Consultation meetings with staff. It will be difficult for UNISON reps to attend each of the on-site meetings, due to other commitments as we deal with a number of Council initiatives and an increased level of casework. This is coupled with a reluctance by the Council to release reps for trade union duties.

· Holding meetings at several sites may distort the message the Council wishes to impart, as colleagues at one site receive the news and pass on their interpretations to staff at other sites. It is in the interest of all parties concerned that this does not happen.

  • The half hour allocated to each meeting is too short for sufficient explanation by the Council and will not provide adequate time for staff to raise questions.

UNISON have called for the reinstatement of the all-staff meeting but have been rebuffed by the Council. Therefore we are raising it as a point of dispute in the Council’s highest industrial relations committee.

Yours sincerely,

Hugh Jordan John Burgess

Libraries Convenor                                                                 Branch Secretary


Branch Health and Safety Officer

Libraries Restructure – A Dispute looms closer

Today UNISON submitted registered a dispute at the local area JNCC with regards the Library restructure proposal. The dispute has been escalated to the People Management meeting on Monday 21 January 2013.

UNISON submitted an Alternative proposal that delivered savings but protected frontline services.

The consultation has achieved some success with the announcement that the council had reversed its decision to remove the Weekend Allowance payment however there are a number of serious concerns:

UNISON are continuing to oppose the cut of Librarian posts from 24.5 to 6.

UNISON has raised serious objections to the proposals to move Librarians out of Libraries and into North London Business Park. UNISON believes it undermines the quality of Library Service.

UNISON views this decision as the first stage of a future plan to deleting the remaining Librarian roles.

UNISON has a re-grading dispute on the following posts:                

1. Library Customer Care Services Managers. This post has been graded at scale points 32-35, UNISON have evaluated this post as scale points 34-37.

2. Library Customer Service Officers have been evaluated at scale points 21-24. UNISON has graded this post at scale points 24-27.

UNISON is seeking an urgent meeting to try and resolve this issue.

The selection process to see which library staff find a job in the new structure is underway. UNISON has objected to the early deadlines for submission of statements and the premature start of these assessments.

PLEASE NOTE: UNISON members working in Libraries are currently being balloted. If you have not yet responded please send in your ballot paper. The ballot closes on Friday 25 January.

Cull of Library staff – Barnet Libraries Restructure

This week Barnet  libraries management  announced to library staff their plans for the service.

To view report click here

Front-line  library staff numbers are to be cut and more self–service machines will introduced. The number of staff carrying out the duties of professionally qualified  librarians will be cut from 24.5 post to 6 and these 6 will no longer work directly with the public. 


The librarians are the staff who select the books, CDs and DVDs for libraries and  ordering books that readers request. They have developed and taught the IT sessions for beginners.  These staff  run the childrens rhyme and story times, organise events such as author talks. The Librarians developed and maintained  Barnet’s digital library and on-line reference libraries, they visit schools and host visits by schools to libraries. They also run programs promoting literacy such as World Book Night, and the Summer  Reading Challenge, as well as dealing with the more complex queries asked in public libraries every day.


Those front-line staff remaining will also suffer a pay their weekend allowance for working  Saturdays is removed. This will not affect senior management and administration staff who don’t work weekends.


Despite the reduction in front line staff and Barnet Libraries having two less building to run with the closure of Friern Barnet Library and the handing over of Hampstead Garden Library to a local resident group, the number of senior management posts remains the same and administration staff posts increased by two. In addition a temporary project manager to enforce further cuts is proposed.


This restructure will result in a library service with less staff available to serve the public and with less expertise and skills.  The choice of stock available in the libraries may decline and service and activities previously delivered by trained and experienced staff will be done by volunteers. This restructure represents a worsening of conditions for staff and an inadequate service for the public. UNISON Barnet are challenging this proposal and will strive for a library service whose workers are justly valued and treated and one that will provide the people of Barnet with a service they deserve. 

Volunteers in Barnet libraries – our members respond



In September 2010 consultation began on the Library Strategic Review.  In Barnet UNISON’s report submitted to the Cabinet meeting on 26 July 2011 we expressed concerns about the proposals to use volunteers in Barnet libraries.  At the end of August 2011 management presented the details of the proposed volunteer programme to the trade unions and to service managers the following week.  Since then Barnet UNISON has been consulting with its members on the proposals and the following questions and concerns have been raised.  These have been put forward to libraries senior management and we await a response.


Of particular concern are:


i)             The creation of roles for volunteers that cover key functions of employed library staff and grounds maintenance staff.

ii)            Lack of consultation over changes to terms and conditions of library staff.

iii)           The implementation and ongoing costs of the volunteer programme, along with lack of financial analysis of said programme.

iv)           Increased workload for an ever decreasing workforce that will be placed on them as a result of having to train and supervise volunteers along with potential for high turnover and lack of consistency of volunteers.

v)            Fears of staff that they will lose their jobs to volunteers.

vi)           Fears that the excellent standard of Barnet Library service will decrease as volunteers are used to provide the services provided by experienced, professional staff whose posts are to be deleted.

To read full report click here


Best-selling author Kate Mosse, an early supporter of the Save Barnet Libraries campaign mentioning it on the BBC Politics show and in The Guardian (see, last week launched a scathing attack on the matter of library closures. She said, “There has been a naïve belief on the part of government and local authorities that after the initial objections, public anger would wane. Instead it is the precise opposite: the anger has simply exacerbated” adding that there had been “a catastrophic failure of leadership” from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, the Arts Council and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. (see

Friern Barnet Library Party

To emphasise Kate’s point, Campaigners for Friern Barnet Library channelled their anger over its threatened closure into the positive force of organising a party to celebrate this focal point of their community. Hundreds turned up, (especially children in fancy dress, many of them representing Hogwarts school – fortunately not thought to be one of the six local schools affected by the closure!) to enjoy a bookworm cake, send a letter to their councillor, make ‘save our library’ posters and listen to live music. If you were there you will know what a great time was had by all – if you weren’t check out the campaign’s website at to join in the fun through ‘you tube’ and ‘flickr’.

Cabinet Meeting

Barnet Council’s cabinet meeting takes place on 26th July 2011, 7:00pm at Hendon Town Hall to discuss the Library Strategy Review. This is the meeting that will decide the fate of Friern Barnet, Hampstead Garden Suburb and North Finchley Libraries. Campaigners on behalf of the above libraries intend to be there and would welcome anybody to come along and offer moral support.

Contact your MP

Campaigners are also asking users of the affected libraries to contact their MP to let them know they do not want their libraries to close.

For Friern Barnet this is Theresa Villiers MP who can be contacted through:

For Hampstead Garden Suburb and North Finchley it is Mike Freer MP who can be contacted at

As Kate Mosse has said, let them know your anger over library closures is not on the wane – but do it politely as we want them to take action not umbrage!





Gloucestershire Council in the Dock

Residents of Gloucestershire have given Library Campaigners across the country a boost by obtaining a High Court injunction against the closure of their libraries. This also reminds local authorities that they have a statutory duty to provide a full and comprehensive library service under The Museum and Libraries Act 1964. This action represents the first time the Act has been tested in court and round one has clearly gone to the residents. As Public Interest Lawyers solicitor Daniel Carey, acting on behalf of Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries notes; “the High Court has today ensured that these cuts will receive the full scrutiny of the law. The council has very clear statutory duties to provide libraries and these plans breach them.”

Read further reports here:

Meanwhile in Barnet

Local residents in Barnet have been no less vociferous in campaigning to keep their libraries open.

Friern Barnet residents have mounted well supported read-ins at their threatened library and are investigating the possibility of obtaining village green status for the green space next to it. More than 2,000 people signed the petition which has now been presented to the council.

Future planned protests are a ‘Walk to the Library’ week for local children from Monday 11th – Friday 15th July. The campaigners would like as many local schools to participate as possible so if your children or their school want to join-in contact them at . The ‘Walk to the Library’ week will reach a stunning finale with a party for the library on  Saturday 16th July from 2-4pm. Check out for up-to-date information.

Hampstead Garden Suburb residents have been doing their homework and reckon the council have got their figures wrong in their justification to close the local library. Campaigners say, “While it is claimed that our Suburb library is the second costliest to run, one of the reasons cited being that the premises are the only ones in the borough which are leased from a private landlord, our investigations have shown that the rent for 2010/11 is only £ 10,532 p.a., just 7.6% of its total costs. What however is very disturbing is the fact that over £ 57,000 or 41% of the total overheads is being charged to us by way of ” central ” Barnet library charges. To determine what savings are indeed possible , without prejudicing the quality of the service, surely any cost projections must be calculated on a ” like with like ” basis ? The full article can be viewed at and in the local press here

North Finchley residents are also concerned about the future of their library and have managed to obtain 790 signatures on a petition which, as reported by Mrs Angry, Barnet Councillors managed to ignore by use of the new format for Residents Forums. See for all the shameful details.

Library campaigners of Barnet – Don’t hide your light under a bushel. If you are organising a protest, a petition, a Read-in, a Love-in or anything designed to support your library we want to help spread the word. Send the details to Barnet UNISON on or Barnet Alliance for Public Services on

“What is going on in Libraries in Barnet?”

It has always fascinated me how strong the feelings are in the community for Libraries. The Strategic Review which is currently being carried out finishes at the end of November.

“How many Libraries are there in Barnet?”

Burnt Oak, Childs Hill , Chipping Barnet library and children’s centre, Church End library and children’s centre, East Barnet, East Finchley , Edgware library and children’s centre, Friern Barnet, Golders Green, Grahame Park, Hampstead Garden Suburb, Hendon, Mill HIll library and children’s centre, North Finchley library and children’s centre, Osidge , South Friern, Mobile Library; Home Library Service, Local Studies and Archives

It is quite an impressive list of services.

The staff working in the Library Service are obviously providing an excellent service.

I understand that over 3,000 people have signed a petition saying “We the Undersigned, are totally opposed to the closure, sell off or downgrading of the Library service in the London Borough of Barnet…..”

It is my understanding that the Review has not made any recommendations to close, sell off or down grade the Library Service…….not yet anyway.

Whilst I do not know what the Strategic Review will recommend, I do think that in light of the economic climate and the Future Shape Policy of privatising services that there is a good chance we could see proposals which seek to privatise, cut or down grade the Library Service.

If I was working in the Library Service I would take comfort that residents are behind you and by signing the petition are responding to the consultation.

ALL Barnet UNISON members, their family and friends  can sign the petition online here

Barnet UNISON office moves to home working

Until further notice Barnet UNISON will be operating a home working system from our branch workers in line with government advice which means the branch office is closed for access.

Our answering machine and emails will be monitored during this period and we will continue to provide telephone and email advice to our members, individual face to face representation is to be postponed at this time however we will still be representing you but trying to find an alternative way to do so in line with the government advice on COVID19.

If you have a new issue or query you would like assistance with, in the first instance, please either telephone the branch on 020 8359 2088 and leave a message on the Voicemail, giving your name and phone number very clearly and slowly or email the branch at and leave your name, contact telephone number, workplace and a brief outline of your issue or query.

We will arrange for a representative to contact you as soon as possible.

Please see below a list of our Officers and reps together with their contact details and working hours for those who have ongoing cases with the below:

Monday to Friday.  John Burgess Branch Secretary

Monday to Friday. Helen Davies Branch Chair

Tuesday & Thursday. Hugh Jordan Health and Safety/Convenor Libraries

Tuesday to Wednesday Beverly Berrick (Schools) Tues- Weds

Wednesday to Friday.  Chris Jobson Street Scene Convenor

Wednesday to Friday. Patrick Hunter Convenor Barnet Homes

Monday to Friday. Lorraine Berry Office Manager

You can also ring Unison Direct on 0800 0857 857.




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