Unison Facebook Page
Please have a look at Unison’s new facebook page. They are trying to encourage as many people and groups as possible to sign up so they can get news and comments out from UNISON and link up with branches and campaigning activity more easily and interactively.
Unison Need Your Stories
‘Small’ cuts = big impact – we urgently need your stories!
As the full effect of cuts begin to take hold many authorities may not have embarked on the wholesale closure of libraries but are looking for other ways to make savings. The withdrawal of smaller services and resources often impact most upon specific groups of people – recent reports from Newham told of the council’s decision to cut foreign language newspapers, to ‘encourage people to speak and learn English’, whilst other areas have cut the number of audio books they stock.
Do you know – either in your own local authority or other areas – of similar cuts being made which are having an impact on certain groups? It could be one of the examples given, or a decision taken to cutback on outreach work, stop a mental health reading group or stocking publications for the LGBT community………if you do please drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know the details. We want to build up a press story around this issue, so stories from the frontline will be vital to help us do this. Thanks in advance!
Unison has just launched a new campaign pack for branches (opens as pdf). It contains a lot of very useful information for members of the public as well as library workers, including information about pay and conditions, use of volunteers, outsourcing and privatisation, shared services and co-location, campaigning for libraries, sample speeches and useful links.
On 19th June at the Unison Local Government Conference, a motion on libraries was passed which will form the basis of Unison’s activities for the next year:
- build alliances across the library network, including users and local communities;
- fight for a key public service which makes up just 1% of local government spending, but is invaluable in improving people’s life chances.
On 23rd June the national delegate conference debated and passed another libraries motion (opens as pdf):
43. Libraries and library workers are community glue!
Conference believes that library services are a key source of local employment and make an essential contribution to local communities and educational achievement. Despite recent pressures, many libraries have developed innovative and imaginative ways of serving local communities. However the service across the UK has suffered many years of funding cuts and the threat of closures is growing with the last spending settlement.
The impact of library cuts on our members’ jobs, pay and conditions has become all too evident. Alongside the proposals to cut libraries, some councils are advocating the use of volunteers to replace paid staff and to run “community” libraries. These proposals are ill thought out and are having a direct impact on our members’ jobs and terms and conditions. Unsocial hours payments are being cut for evening and weekend working. There is a consistent reduction in library staff and a reduction in the ratio of librarians to local populations and as a proportion of library staff.
Libraries need more investment (eg for books and e- books), to ensure protection of the children’s book fund, maintain free book loans and adequately finance the book funds.
In the local government budget settings for 2011/12 we note that 395 libraries – including 45 mobile libraries across the UK – had been identified for cuts and many more local authorities are conducting reviews. So far there are only 11 authorities who have indicated they will not cut libraries, despite the fact that the cost of the library service amounts to only 1% of local authority spend!
We are concerned that some local authorities are considering setting up trusts as an alternative model of service delivery. These will lead to less democratic accountability to the local community.
We welcome community groups who have collected thousands of signatures to compel local councils to set up formal council meetings to discuss the future of library services. We also welcome the read-ins and other campaigning activities (eg We Love Libraries on youtube).
Conference therefore calls upon the National Executive Council to:
1. defend vigorously our members’ jobs and terms and conditions, including, where appropriate, through industrial action within UNISON’s rules and procedures;
2. continue to build a network of library activists and members to campaign to protect jobs, pay and conditions and build our web profile;
3. build a media campaign around attacks on our members’ jobs, pay and conditions to the library cuts, highlighting the impact on library workers;
4. support branches in their campaigns against closures and cuts in opening hours and resources;
5. provide guidance to branches on the use of volunteers and “community” run libraries;
6. work with and continue to build alliance across the library network, including Campaign for the Book, Voices for the Library and other groups, particularly those involving service users and the local community more generally;
7. support campaigns to prevent library services becoming “trusts” or being outsourced;
8. campaign for a Public Inquiry (People’s Inquiry) about the future of local authority library services;
9. seek government clarification on what a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service means.