UNISON condemns councillor's attack on union reps
16 March 2012: UNISON has condemned attacks
on UNISON reps at the City of Edinburgh Council
meeting on 15 March.
Having had the opportunity to raise issues with
the UNISON delegation during their submission, SNP
Councillor Stuart McIvor chose instead to launch
an attack on the UNISON reps after they had moved
to the public gallery where they had no opportunity
Branch President John Stevenson said, "Trade
unionists are robust enough to put up with argument
and debate but to attack them in public when they
had no opportunity to answer was cheap and underhand.
"But worse, it was also an attack on the union
members who deliver Edinburgh' library services.
"From his comments, Cllr McIvor may not know
who UNISON stewards represent but they know and
the library workers know. Our members in libraries
have been widely consulted and what UNISON is saying
to councillors is what our members are saying to
us. Cllr McIvor may think there is some consipracy
but he may be better actually listening to the people
who deliver Edinburgh's library services".
"Now would be a good time to apologise and
put the record straight".
Threat to Edinburgh Library Services
14 March 2012: Edinburgh City Libraries are
woefully understaffed. In the last five years this
service has lost over 50 members of staff who have
never been replaced.
With such a huge staffing shortfall, the Library
Service cannot be expected to adequately and safely
staff all library locations and continue to provide
high quality services to the people of Edinburgh.
Despite this, Library Management want to extend
Saturday opening which will further stretch an already
depleted workforce.This problem is only going to get
worse. Several colleagues are going to have their
temporary contracts terminated and the 50 vacant posts
are due to be deleted from the staffing structure
by the start of the next financial year.
The decision to cut these jobs comes as a result
of the Service Prioritisation packages designed to
make £550,000 savings from the budget. There was a
recent £300,000 payment which was hoped would be used
to remedy the staffing crisis. This money is being
diverted to maintain Sunday opening hours. We feel
this situation is unacceptable and unsustainable.
WHY WEREN’T YOU TOLD ABOUT THIS?
City of Edinburgh Council claim you were. They state
that their decision was made as a result of one of
the biggest public consultations in their history.
10,000 respondents is an impressive figure but it
pales into insignificance when you consider that there
are 180,000 registered library users in Edinburgh.
Only 5.5% of library users were consulted. That's
170,000 people who did not have a say in their library
service – enough to simultaneously fill both Easter
Road and Tynecastle Stadia 4.5 times over. This cannot
be described as proper consultation.
WHAT SERVICES WILL BE LOST?
BookBug/Books for Babies/Rhymetimes These
awarding winning programmes which are set up, run
and led by frontline staff have been proven to help
in the mental and physical development of babies and
toddlers. It has been shown to improve literacy levels,
the ability to interact with others in a positive
manner and also assists new mothers in developing
their parenting skills.
These are extremely valuable programmes yet, last
year, two designated BookBug workers were lost to
Homework Clubs These after-school workshops
were set up to advise and assist young people in their
education and are also run by frontline staff. Evidence
shows that the Homework Clubs increases the potential
for increased academic achievement amongst participants
and it cannot be doubted that this increases their
future employment prospects.
Adult literacy/Computer classes These are
other valuable services run and led by frontline staff.
The positive outcomes are immediately noticeable.
People become more confident as a direct result of
these classes and are more prepared to interact with
others. Participants are also more prepared to pursue
further self improvement and, as a result, their employment
Library Link Library Link is yet another service
provided by frontline staff. It provides a regular
opportunity for the elderly and infirm to visit their
local library on a weekly basis. As well as being
able to access the library services whilst having
a cup of tea, in many cases this service is the only
chance many of these people get the chance to leave
their homes, meet friends or new people and generally
Housebound Runs There are some who, through
no fault of their own, are unable to visit their local
library. As a result staff deliver library services
to them. Each customer has their own designated member
of staff who forms a relationship with them and develops
a working knowledge of their reading preferences.
Staff can tailor the service specifically to that
individual customer. This ensures that the most vulnerable
people are not denied the services that you and I
enjoy from our library service.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
These services, along with many others, will disappear.
Staff numbers are being decimated and the working
week for the remaining staff is getting longer. The
quality and provision of the service will suffer irrecoverably.
We cannot allow this to happen. In these tough economic
times we need a strong, healthy and viable library
service to help support vulnerable service users.
One quarter of the population of Scotland have difficulty
with reading and writing – and this percentage increases
in areas of our communities that suffer from deprivation.
We need librarians to help break the cycle of low
literacy levels which are linked to poverty. When
individuals do well, so do their families, communities
and employers, present and future.
UNISON are due to make a delegation to the meeting
of the Full Council on Thursday 15 March to put forward
our concerns. We will continue to make the case and
fight for our Library service but we NEED your help!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
You know the facts - now contact your councillor.
Raise your concerns directly with them and insist
that Libraries need adequate staffing levels to continue
to provide an excellent service to you, your family
and the people of Edinburgh. You can also join the
To value this service we've got to use it. All you
need is photo ID and you're up and running. There's
a world of knowledge just waiting for you in your
PLEASE SUPPORT YOUR LIBRARY SERVICE