Protest as Hackney Unison chair amongst those handed compulsory redundancies in libraries shake-up

Hackney Unison protest library redundancies and support national strikes.

Hackney Unison protest library redundancies and support national strikes. Photograph: Hackney Unison, free for use by partners of BBC news wire service

Council staff staged a protest outside Hackney Town Hall after several library staff, including Hackney Unison Branch Chair Brian Debus, were handed compulsory redundancy notices.

The protest by Hackney Unison on Wednesday 15 March was also held to support striking teachers, junior doctors and Tube staff.

It followed several days of strike action by Unite and Unison library workers after the council unveiled a shake-up of library services which will see 19 jobs go.

Hackney Unison said it was “registering our disgust that three library workers including Hackney Unison Branch Chair Brian Debus are due to be made compulsorily redundant. This despite there being more than enough posts available in the restructured library service.”

The council consulted 99 library staff over the changes which see some roles at higher bands and managers caring for several libraries instead of a manager for each.

The move is aimed at saving £250,000 from the budget.

The unions argued that the level of staffing was too low, however the council disputed this claim, saying other authorities have fewer staff for a similar number of places.

Cllr Chris Kennedy, the council’s cabinet member for health, adult social care, voluntary sector and culture, said: “The changes will ensure we keep all libraries open and that all library services and opening hours will remain unaffected.”

He said “the vast majority of library staff that applied for jobs in the new structure were successful and have secured better paid roles.”

Cllr Kennedy added: “We are now about to launch a major recruitment campaign to fill the remainder of new jobs in the service.”

Commenting on the union’s reaction he said: “We will always support the right to protest, but have done what we can to keep any compulsory redundancies to a minimum while providing better-paid frontline roles, or a promotion into a management or a specialist role, to retained staff members.”