Sunday, 25 September 2011

Volunteer staff in Barnet libraries - the union view

Barnet Unison branch, which represents a number of the Barnet libraries staff, have asked their members what they think of Barnet council's plan to use more volunteers to staff libraries.

Here is a summary report of the consultation:
In September 2010 consultation began on the Library Strategic Review. In Barnet UNISON’s report submitted to the Cabinet meeting on 26 July 2011 we expressed concerns about the proposals to use volunteers in Barnet libraries. At the end of August 2011 management presented the details of the proposed volunteer programme to the trade unions and to service managers the following week. Since then Barnet UNISON has been consulting with its members on the proposals and the following questions and concerns have been raised. These have been put forward to libraries senior management and we await a response.

Of particular concern are:

i) The creation of roles for volunteers that cover key functions of employed library staff and grounds maintenance staff.

ii) Lack of consultation over changes to terms and conditions of library staff.

iii) The implementation and ongoing costs of the volunteer programme, along with lack of financial analysis of said programme.

iv) Increased workload for an ever decreasing workforce that will be placed on them as a result of having to train and supervise volunteers along with potential for high turnover and lack of consistency of volunteers.

v) Fears of staff that they will lose their jobs to volunteers.

vi) Fears that the excellent standard of Barnet Library service will decrease as volunteers are used to provide the services provided by experienced, professional staff whose posts are to be deleted.
You can read the full report here.

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