Friday, 27 November 2015

Why I voted for John Burgess.

If you're a Unison member and still haven't made up your mind about who to vote for in the General Secretary elections then you still have until 5pm on 4/12/15 to do so.

As a Unison member, campaigner and public library worker it was an easy decision for me to make. I've had the honour to march & protest with John and his branch on numerous occasions, in fact I've helped carry their banner so many times that he refers to me as his 'stunt double'!

I've seen how John has galvanised his branch and the wider Barnet community into fighting against savage cuts and privatisation. I've seen him stand with and speak up for other victimised trade unionists, I've stood with him outside Parliament against the TU Bill, I've marched with him on Pride and in Manchester on the recent TUC rally. He's the real deal, an inspiration.

In relation to libraries, John, the Save Barnet Libraries campaigners and the wider community have organised marches, protests and lobbies against a hard-right council who seeks to decimate the service. This is how a union branch should fight, arm in arm with local people; inclusive, democratic and accountable. A united front.

If you want a General Secretary who'll fight then vote for John.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Fight for Lewisham Libraries.

Solidarity to Lambeth Library Workers!

On Wednesday 18/11/15 after much provocation, and in defence of a crucial statutory public service and their jobs, public library workers (mostly or all Unison members) in Lambeth walked out. All ten libraries in the borough were closed.
They were supported in their action by the Save Lambeth Libraries campaign and by the many Friends groups in the borough.

I salute them and the library workers in Barnet, Bromley, Greenwich and everywhere else in London who have taken action. I also salute the users, community activists etc who have protested alongside them.

London's library services are being torn apart, in the last few years we've witnessed the culling of 1000+ paid/trained staff, many libraries closed, libraries privatised and opening hrs and budgets slashed. We desperately need a coordinated and united fight back. Let's hope that Wednesdays action is a spark.

For more information see;

and for the Save Lambeth Libraries petition and FB page see; 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Unscheduled closures, paying twice & a critical report; Embarrassing for the Chair of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce?

More worrying news from Northamptonshire Libraries.

A recent report by ‘Healthwatch Northamptonshire’ has raised concerns regarding the library service delivering U5/family sessions originally delivered by Children’s Centres;

“The key findings in the report are:
* Although libraries are welcoming to families, they do not have the space, facilities, staff, volunteers or expertise to run open access family services.
* Staffing levels are low across all the libraries Healthwatch visited, given the additional functions for libraries.
* Volunteers to run the children’s sessions are difficult to recruit.
* Families that may need help do not appear to be going to either libraries or children’s centres.”

Now this isn’t the first time that concerns have been raised about this, in 2013 the issues of safeguarding and confidentiality popped up;
"libraries aren't the right environment for young family activities (including safeguarding concerns relating to full public access and confidentiality issues)", and some raised worries about accessibility and location.”

and some residents/service users were so concerned about the cuts/changes that they started a petition;
“They fear fewer services provided by children’s centres and more by library staff will leave more families at risk of needing specific help.”

Northamptonshire Libraries have experienced staffing & funding problems over the last 2-3 years with many hours lost to unscheduled closures  and the 'trust' set up to "support" libraries being accused of asking people to pay twice for the service through the introduction of a premium library membership scheme.

“People already have to pay for things twice with the council such as registrations, adult care, now they are being made to pay for libraries twice."

All in all potentially very worrying, and embarrassing, for the Chair of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce who just happens to be Paul Blantern, the CEO of Northamptonshire County Council!

when Paul was asked on Twitter about the report he replied;

“bluntly this was a report that neither my politicians, children's nor library service give any credence to at all!”