by Brian Debus, Hackney Unison chair (personal capacity)
On Monday 5 September, every staff member in libraries in Hackney received a letter from the ‘Strategic Director’ notifying of possible redundancy, deleting nearly 100 people’s jobs.
This will mean nearly every staff member having to apply for a new post, in a new structure, with no guarantee of a job.
The bosses claim that ‘only’ 19 full-time-equivalent posts will go, but because of the wide range of hours and working arrangements in libraries — from job-shares and part-time workers to weekend assistants — that will affect as many as 100 people.
In an illustration of the council’s priorities, initially the cuts being demanded amounted to £200,000. Then in May, the council increased the budget for four senior manager posts by £50,000 — and now the cuts are £250,000! So there’s to be a direct transfer of money from services to managers — who will have fewer staff to manage!
A significant number of staff are members of Unison, and will want to resist this proposal.
Initiatives which are likely to be taken include:
- A public petition to the council, demanding that they stop this devastation of library services
- A leaflet explaining the impact the cuts would have on library services as well as staff
- A poster, which we aim to get displayed in hundreds if not thousands of locations across Hackney
- A public meeting hosted by Unison.
- Unison members are also being consulted as to whether they are prepared to take strike action, to protect their jobs and the library service.
Hackney is not only a Labour council, but has a directly elected Mayor, Philip Glanville, who is feted outside of Hackney as being ‘progressive’.
He is happy to speak on platforms around London against austerity, but is presiding over job and service cuts in his own borough. We are likely to produce postcards for the public to use to help us put the demand squarely to him that he stops these cuts.
The Socialist Party calls for the council to refuse to pass on Tory cuts — instead, we need a no-cuts needs-based budget, and a fight for funding from the government.
The campaign should also appeal to the two Labour MPs, Meg Hillier and Diane Abbott. Meg was a Blairite opponent of Jeremy Corbyn, but Diane Abbott was a prominent supporter. Will she come out on the side of the workers fighting the Labour council cuts?
We demand: no staffing cuts and no service cuts in Hackney libraries!