Library staff in redundancy row

STAFF at Doncaster libraries have hit out at a jobs review which has prompted some of them to leave before bosses decided on a U-turn.

They claim they have been "kicked around from pillar to post" over the past few months and union officials have described the situation as "a shambles".

The threat of job losses and changes to working hours has been hanging over the librarians and staff at customer service centres across the borough for most of the year.

One ex-librarian told The Star: "They started in January when they told people they would have to re-apply for their jobs and they wanted people to take redundancy or early retirement.

"The whole library system has been on hold for nearly 10 months and then they sent an email round saying they were reversing what they planned and staff can stay where they are because they are going to cut opening hours instead.

"Some people have already taken redundancy and they've been told they can come back as relief assistants if they want. It seems a shambles. A lot of qualified people have left because they've been kicked around from pillar to post and this has wasted a lot of public money."

Russell Ballinger, convenor for the Unison union, said their negotiations with the authority during the dispute had led to a decision to reduce opening hours by closing an extra half a day or on Saturdays and not opening in the evenings, without further staff reductions.

"We've managed to secure some concessions but we have lost a lot of staff to voluntary redundancy. It's been a shambles from the authority's point of view.

"They made it a lot more complicated than it needed to be. I'm glad they've backtracked but I am disgusted that they have cut library opening hours.

"It has been a very stressful time for all concerned, not knowing from one day to the next what was happening."

Paul Hart, Doncaster Council's managing director, said: "We are undertaking further evaluation of our libraries and customer service centres to ensure that we deliver a quality, cost-effective library service in Doncaster that meets the needs of our residents.

"Staff and trade unions have been consulted on possible changes throughout the whole process and we are keeping everyone concerned fully informed."

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