Barnet UNISON holds protest in Hendon as council decides fate of library service

Barnet UNISON library Rebecca FrontTrade unionists are this evening being urged to attend a demonstration in Hendon as councillors decide the fate of libraries in Barnet.

Barnet Council is considering proposals to sack 46% of library staff, cut staff time from 634.5 hours a week to 188, and have four out of 14 libraries run completely by volunteers.

The demonstration, organised by Barnet UNISON, is outside Hendon Town Hall at 6.30pm.

Barnet UNISON Library Convenor Hugh Jordan said: “The council plans to replace qualified, experienced staff who have a wide range of skills and knowledge with volunteer and machines, and to reduce the size and quality of Libraries.

“The people of Barnet, including our members, did not march, lobby, sign petitions and respond to the consultation in support of volunteer and machine operated libraries, they were defending a service staffed by real library workers, libraries with enough space for people to study and use IT, and to house sufficient items for loan to meet the needs of their users. UNISON members working in Barnet Libraries oppose the council’s dire future vision of our service.”

UNISON Branch Secretary John Burgess said: “It is a little early for Hallowe’en, but this library proposal is more trick than treat. The trick is pretending to save our libraries, the cut in staff and subsequent staff opening hours is tantamount to wholesale closure of all of our libraries.

“This proposal will leave all the libraries to wither on the vine. I can predict a future library meeting recommending closure of the libraries with the justification being that no-one is using the libraries.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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