#High5Heritage!

On November 25th, the day of the much-anticipated and feared Spending Review, Prospect reps received the surprising and welcome news that the Library will see no cash reduction in Grant in Aid to 2010-21.

Having anticipated 25-40% cuts, this was infinitely better than expected, though in real terms (once inflation is taken into account) it still amounts to a reduction of about 10% over the next five years, on top of the big cuts of the last 5 years.

The Branch would like to take this opportunity to thank all Prospect members, reps and staff, Library readers and supporters, and members of the public who, over the last few years, have taken part in the campaign against cuts to the Library and other heritage organisations by joining demonstrations, talking to friends and contacts, being active on social media, helping with leafleting campaigns, speaking at conferences and writing to their MPs. Everything has helped and your help has been really appreciated. The work done by Prospect has been recognised by BL management and highlighted at recent staff talks, where the High5heritage Twitter campaign received a particular name check.

Locally, the Branch will continue to engage with management to make sure that the outcome of the Spending Review brings benefits to members’ pay, terms and conditions.

There has never been a more important time to be a member of a Union, and there has never been a time when its benefits and influence have been more apparent.

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#High5heritage

Today’s the day! – Please support Britain’s national library, its museums and other heritage organisations by tweeting a selfie tagged #high5heritage and copying it to @prospectunion.

The Library and other organisations are threatened with cuts of up to 40% in the forthcoming Spending Review. Coming on top of the 30% inflicted between 2010 and 2015, this will do untold damage. It also makes no economic sense – for every pound invested, heritage organisations generate £5 in the UK economy.

The current government places great value on the creative industries, and we are asking friends and users of the BL to send a clear message to Treasury that this is inconsistent with further cuts. It’s easy! Just take your selfie (you don’t even need to show your face!) and tweet away.

Let’s get the message trending if we can!

HighFive-05

More pension issues

Members – and retired members – are lucky if they have not noticed the recent problems with MyCSP, the government’s administrator for the Civil Service Pension Scheme.

Whether seeking accurate figures for a Voluntary Exit compensation payment; a timely payment of pension after retirement; or simply an annual statement of pension expectations, British Library staff have encountered inaccuracies and delays on an unprecedented scale. The problems in other organisations have been still worse.

Prospect HQ is pursuing all the assorted problems with MyCSP itself, and with the Cabinet Office.

MyCSP is a flagship for the government’s favored mutual model, being partly owned by staff, by government and by the private sector. The problems have been engendered by the huge body of work currently underway to move staff into the new Alpha scheme, but this fact is no comfort to people who expect to be paid on time, or who have important decisions riding on receipt of accurate information.

As ever, members who are experiencing problems should raise these with a local rep, so that the cases can be escalated, with the most serious being taken to the Cabinet Office itself.

Farewell to so many years of experience.

For the last decade or more, the Library has been running periodic Voluntary Exit programmes, in response or to restructures or to funding cuts. Some people have happily left with cheers to begin their retirement; others with great reluctance, feeling they had no choice.

Since 2010, these exercises have come thick and fast as the Library has implemented Spending Review settlements supplemented by the nips and tucks in funding that have come with every Budget and Autumn Statement. There has been an exit programme every year.

Somehow, the 2015 departures have been on a scale not seen before. For the last week or more, every member of staff has been saying farewell to multiple colleagues per day. Prospect has lost many valued members (though we are luckily able to recruit new members almost as fast), and I would like to post our own particular “Roll of Honour”: the reps who have left us this month.

They are: Geoff West (otherwise Head of Hispanic Collections), who had served as a rep for Prospect and its predecessor unions longer than any other person, and had a wealth of experience and expertise;

John Tiplady (Metadata Systems Analyst), who was a highly active Section Organizer and recruiter as well as a representative on negotiating Committees;

Isabelle Egan (Conservator), our Branch’s Minutes Secretary for the last two years; and

Robert Davies (Events Officer), who was Equal pay rep and newsletter editor in bygone days.

The Library is not an organization that has excessive numbers of reps to begin with, and some had left us in previous rounds, so the loss of these four friends and colleagues will leave a big hole.