Thursday, August 25, 2016
Demonstrate to defend our libraries
My at am indebted to John Burgess of Barnet UNISON for drawing to my attention the message below sent from Barnet’s Libraries Convenor to the national Union urging support for a national demonstration in defence of libraries which has been set for November – I understand that there will be a planning meeting in London on 10 September.
Since 2010 we have lost a fifth of all jobs in local government, and local government workers have lost a fifth of our real income. The offices of the country’s major public sector trade union really should be the throbbing heart of a ceaseless battle to defend public services. We should be mobilising grassroots campaigning in defence of libraries, housing services, social care services and reaching out to every campaign in defence of public services and our welfare state (or what’s left of it).
You might think we could be doing better.
Anyway here is the request from Barnet;
“During the National Seminar for Library reps last June, other reps and I asked for support for local branches in defending libraries and library workers and that the issue needed to be fought on Regional and National levels. A publicity campaign to highlight the value of libraries was discussed and ideas for how to do this were put forward. Some other reps and I did discuss other activities such as a London or National rally.
However since your email below we have heard nothing of any concrete nature being organised by National UNISON in resisting attacks on Libraries.
Before and after the Seminar, I as part of Barnet UNISON delegations have attended rallies and marches in other London boroughs in support of library workers facing attacks on their jobs, pay and conditions. Reps and activists at these events call out for leadership and support from National and Regional UNISON.
In Barnet our struggle against Library cuts has been waged for two years and is ongoing. Half of my colleagues in Barnet Libraries now face redundancy. They will be (inadequately and unsafely) replaced by volunteers and unstaffed, machine operated opening hours. We took three days strike action in June and National UNISON leaders did join and publicise one of our picket lines, which we appreciate. Similar attacks on Library Services are being carried out across the country, from Fife to Sheffield to Surrey. Yet this goes largely unchallenged in the national media, the BBC’s One Show championing of volunteer run libraries being a recent example.
This situation cannot continue if public libraries and library jobs are to be saved. Because of this Library activists including myself have worked with other trade unionists to organise a demonstration in support of our Service, Museums and Galleries in November.
I ask for UNISON on a national level to support and publicise this event. First steps would be to agree for the use of the UNISON logo on publicity material and for notification to be posted on all our Union’s publications including social media.
I hope and trust that national UNISON will support this demonstration. The thousands of UNISON library workers deserve defending, the millions who use our libraries need championing.
For more information either contact me or see
publiclibrariesnews.com/2016/ 08/fewer-are-taking-part-so- lets-have-a-national- demonstration.html
I look forward to your reply”
So do I.