Commencement of Action Short of Strike Action

As you will be aware Trade Union Side has been attempting for some time to obtain agreement with Libraries NI to re-evaluate the Branch Library Manager post. It is our strong contention that there have been considerable changes over the last number of years in respect of the duties and responsibilities attached to the post. Unfortunately to date Management Side have continued to reject this request for a re-evaluation and as a result members were balloted recently on whether they would be prepared to take strike action and/or engage in action short of strike. The result of the Industrial Action ballot, as you know, was a resounding Yes for both. Having considered the outcome your elected NIPSA Committee decided not to take strike action at this time but rather concentrate on Action Short of Strike and a list of actions were drawn up and provided to the Chief Executive, advising that the action would commence on Friday 25th May 2018.

In an attempt to potentially avoid this course of action Trade Union Side agreed to meet again with Management Side in order to clarify any issues which may have arisen in relation to the various pieces of correspondences and exchanges over the last few years. That meeting took place on Wednesday 23rd May. This was a constructive meeting in NIPSA’s view and there was a good discussion on a number of key issues. Unfortunately however sufficient progress was not made in order to avoid industrial action as Management Side have still not agreed to undertake a re-evaluation of your post. Trade Union Side are disappointed but remain committed to meet again with the employer to see if a resolution is possible.

In the meantime however the Action Short of Strike will commence as planned tomorrow, Friday 25th May 2018 in all libraries with NIPSA members who are Branch Library Managers. Following the democratic vote all NIPSA members are now asked to fully participate in this action, which is aimed at encouraging your employer to concede to a fairly reasonable request. That is to undertake a re-evaluation of your job description which has been in place since 2002, given the many changes which have occurred since that time.

I have listed below actions to be undertaken. Members should be aware that following a legal ballot of NIPSA members who are undertaking Branch Library Manager duties the union has called on all affected members to take part in Action Short of Strike. This action is legally permissible as NIPSA has fully confirmed with the legislative requirements contained in the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 and has notified the employer of the action to be undertaken.

The actions covered below contain activities that you would normally carry out. During this period of industrial action you are asked not to do so. You are protected by the legislation as you are participating in legal industrial action. For the period of Industrial Action the following have been notified to your employer:

  1. Non completion and return of statistical information; by means of not completing the Monthly Activity Data Base, not completing the Business Update Monthly Report and not completing the Adult Participation Activities – service plan targets.
  2. Discontinue participation in aspects of the Managing Attendance procedure, specifically:- not issuing contact letters to staff who are off on sick leave and also not undertaking Return to Work interviews.
  3. Non-attendance at BLM staff meetings and non-attendance at training on non-contractual days.
  4. No participation in staff appraisals, neither as an appraiser or as an appraise.
  5. No updating of information on the e-calendar system.
  6. Discontinue the checking and verification and raising of all invoices for payment, for example newspaper bills or room hires.
  7. No participation in the audit of work of cleaning staff.
  8. No participation in providing assistance in respect of Universal Credit linked IT training.

If you have any queries please contact either John McKeegan on 07850 986181 or myself on 07838 611836.

We are due to meet with Management Side again on Monday 11th June. If there is any progress at that meeting I will contact you again.

Finally can I state that I fully appreciate that taking action of this nature is a difficult thing to do for many members. It is not something NIPSA takes lightly and is always used as a last resort. So it is in this case too. From October 2013 we have sought to have your post re-evaluated. I think, by any definition, that is more than a reasonable period to patiently request your employer to undertake a re-evaluation of your post. With united action by all Branch Library Managers you will play your part in convincing Libraries NI that you deserve to be treated with respect and have your post properly graded.

Your action will make a difference!

Paddy Mackel 

Assistant Secretary