This is a subject that I have not seen much discussion.
In Barnet the Council have issued their instruction to sack 46% of Library staff. One of the justifications is that they are going to handover a number of Libraries (Partnership Libraries) to voluntary organisations to run.
This is critical moment in the future of Libraries. Volunteers are being used now to push through brutal austerity policies and take the livelihoods of thousands of low paid Library workers.
Imagine if you will, going into work today. There you are carrying out your job, earning your living, paying your bills feeding your family. Next you receive a tap on the shoulder, you look up and a stranger/volunteer says:
Volunteer: "Excuse me, erm, this is all a bit awkward for me, I really am unhappy about this but if I don't do this there will be nothing left."
Volunteer: "I'm your replacement, don't worry they've told me although you are being sacked you will get redundancy pay"
I think you would be pretty upset and angry.
That is what is happening in Barnet.
Barnet Council are not closing the Libraries they are simply sacking the staff and using volunteers to replace them.
This isn't a closure it's "outsourcing" with mass redundancies (46% of the workforce are being sacked).
I have a message for any voluntary organisation thinking of running "Partnership Libraries" either here in Barnet or anywhere else.
"Don't do it. Don't be part of brutal assault on our Libraries. Don't take the livelihoods of our members and their families."
Join us on 5th November on the National Libraries, Museums, Galleries demonstration.