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Barnet Council 'disappointed' over library strikes

PUBLISHED: 17:34 08 June 2016 | UPDATED: 17:34 08 June 2016

A Barnet Unison protest. Picture: John's Labour blog

A Barnet Unison protest. Picture: John's Labour blog

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Barnet Council has responded to announcements that library workers will be going on strike for three days in protest of cuts to jobs.

The strikes were announced by union Barnet Unison in opposition to the council’s plans to outsource the running of the library services across the borough.

The council has released a statement expressing its disappointment at the decision.

Councillor Reuben Thompstone, chair of the Children, Education, Libraries and Safeguarding Committee, said: “We are disappointed about the Union’s decision to take industrial action. We have had to make difficult decisions about the future of the libraries service to deliver savings, whilst continuing to deliver the service that residents value.

“The plans agreed by full council will see us maintain the same number of libraries and keep home, mobile and digital services.

“While the number of hours libraries are staffed will reduce, overall opening hours will be extended through the implementation of technology enabled opening.

“The agreed plans will continue to see the library service run by the council. We will continue to explore the opportunity to develop an alternative model for the management of library services.”

Barnet library workers have gained the support of shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, as they prepare for a three day strike in protest of council cuts.

The shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, expressed his support for the industrial action and released a statement saying: “I want to pay tribute and send solidarity greetings to Barnet Unison library workers.

“They have been fighting an inspirational workplace and community campaign and I would like to thank them for their sterling efforts to expose and prevent the proposed widespread decimation of their library service which will see half the workforce dumped onto the dole queue.

“Barnet Unison has been a fine example of how trade unions and their community can work together in fighting austerity policies which are destroying local public services up and down the country, they have my 100 per cent support.”

The new plans will see 14 library sites retained, as well as the home, mobile and digital library services and increased opening hours at 10 sites through the use of new technology.

This technology, however, will allow the library to remain unstaffed and other sites will be ran by voluntary community groups rather than paid staff.

The strikes are due to take place on June 13, 14 and 15 and Unison are calling for the Council to revaluate their proposals.

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