Where you work - Communities

UNISON has over 1,000 members in Communities and a team of Convenors and lead stewards. They cover a wide range of service areas including libraries, adult care, housing strategy and homelessness. Members include home care workers, librarians, social workers and support workers for people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health problems. We campaign to protect pay and conditions and support members on matters such as professional registration and CRB checks.

We welcome new members and encourage existing ones to get active. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to find out more about how you can become a steward – we would be delighted to hear from you!

Latest news

The Bisection of Sheffield City Libraries (29/09/14)

Sheffield City Council have given away 14 Community Libraries to Volunteer Community Groups and Independents and closed the Mobile Library Service completely.

100+ full time and part time staff (with over 1,500 years of service between them) have taken VS/VER, leaving the same number of staff to run the remaining 12 Council Community Libraries, plus Central Services.

The staff that have left, given the choice, would have still worked within the Library Service, had the 14 Community libraries remained open.

All of the “leavers” and “stayers” have worked in a thoroughly professional and committed way, giving a first class service to the public over the years.

Will the voluntary and independently run Libraries be able to give the same commitment?

Will these sections of communities within Sheffield be left without a Library to visit if/when the Volunteer/Independent Libraries fail?

Time will tell…

UNISON wins victory for social care provision

Lessons from Birmingham: Victory for Social Care Judicial Review

(July 2011) In a landmark Judicial Review in the High Court on 20th April, the Conservative-led Birmingham City Council was found to have acted unlawfully with regard to their plans for social care. The Judicial Review was launched after the Council outlined massive cuts to social care which will see nearly 10,000 people across Birmingham have their care downgraded, with 4,100 people losing their care packages altogether.

Personalisation for all?

(July 2011) The main threats to the provision of local, quality personalised social care are the devastating social care budget cuts that we have witnessed over the last year. Despite the government claiming to have provided an (un-ring) fenced extra £2 billion for local social care services, there is little evidence that this is being used to protect front line care services or jobs.

UNISON branches  shop stewards, activists and organisers have been campaigning to protect care jobs and front line services in this harsh economic climate.

Not only have eligibility criteria been tightened, but 88% of councils are increasing their charges, 63% are closing care homes and day centres and 54% are cutting funding to the voluntary sector (Emily Thornberry MP Shadow minister for Social Care).

Learning Disabilities

(July 2011) I attended the final meeting of the Provider Services MANAGING EMPLOYER REDUCTION negotiations on the 25th March 2011; there were some issues that we needed to clarify with management especially the Senior Worker Job Description.

UNISON raised a query regarding the version of the job description that had undergone the pay and grading process, and subsequent independent review. The version that was submitted included the following.

Changes that UNISON requested stating that changes to work patterns would be subject to mutual agreement and/or negotiation with the unions. It was accepted that there was some ambiguity around the informal stages of procedures management wanted senior’s to undertake.

The group agreed that a review of the new structure would take place in 6 months time to identify what is working and what is not and recommend changes if required.
There are 30 vacancies grade 5 and lower in L/D.

Carol Ring


National Libraries News

(June 2011) Libraries have again been all over the news for the past week or so as a number of high profile campaigns and campaigners have caught the attention of the media. All this proves again that libraries are not the soft target many politicians local and national may have mistaken them for.....here is a round-up of the top stories. National Libraries Day – it’s official.


The first planning meeting for next February’s National Libraries Day took place late last week, with a press release going out shortly afterwards to get the ball rolling. Numerous literacy and educational organisations attended the meeting, including UNISON, to hear a rousing call to action from children’s author Alan Gibbons. In bringing so many organisations together, the day aims to encourage campaigners from around the country to hold celebratory events to highlight the importance of their local libraries. At a key time when many local authorities will be agreeing their budgets for year two of the cuts, the events could help to exert pressure on local politicians to think again. UNISON will continue to be involved and update on plans.

Bennett gets people all of a twitter over libraries

Brent campaigners have been receiving their share of media coverage, owing in particular to a piece on Newsnight (25th May) and the enlistment of Alan Bennett as a high profile figurehead for the campaign. Campaigners have launched an appeal to raise money for the costs of their legal challenge, whilst Bennett provoked a furore in certain circles last week who rather missed the point of his argument that depriving children of a library service is tantamount to ‘child abuse’.

Lewisham libraries take their campaign to DCMS and Downing Street
Campaigners in Lewisham took their protests over library closures in the borough up to Westminster recently in order to highlight their ongoing legal battle by delivering books to Downing Street. Radio 4’s You and Yours covered the events live and spoke to both Tim Coates and the owner of Eco Computers, a company scheduled to take over the running of several libraries in the borough.

Ed Vaizey rendered speechless
Visiting the British Museum, the Culture Minister Ed Vaizey refused to answer questions on the future of library services in Camden when confronted by a local journalist last week. Mr Vaizey turned to a government press officer and said: "I'm not sure what to do. Can I speak? You are here to protect me from things like this."

And finally, this week’s campaign plug goes to Westminster, where campaigners have launched a petition to help save St James Library, due for closure on 1st August:

Branch-wide news

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