BY JAMES TWOMEY
Striking library staff and union members protested outside Crystal Palace Sports Centre, on Wednesday – one of the venues owned by Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), who are being blamed by library workers for poor working conditions and pay.
There are currently 50 library workers at GLL’s 14 libraries across Bromley who have been on strike since June 6.
The dispute began when library workers across Bromley said that GLL had let members of staff go without replacing them, creating an increase in workload which was not reflected in their pay.
Kath Smith, Bromley Unite and striking library worker, said: “GLL can not run from this strike and they can not hide. We will take our campaign to every GLL venue and make sure that everybody knows what this company are doing to our libraries.”
Another Bromley library worker said: “GLL and Bromley council told us, when we objected to the transfer of the libraries to GLL, that there would be no loss of professional staff.
“That was clearly a lie – professional staff have left and not been replaced – it’s obvious for everybody to see, that’s why we are out on strike.”
Onay Kasab, Unite regional officer, said: “Anybody, with any connection to GLL will be hearing from us. That includes local authorities who have contracts with GLL – to these we say cancel the contract at the first opportunity and take the service back in-house.
“To those who choose to have GLL as a partner, we will make the assumption that they have no problem dealing with a company who are happy to slash staffing numbers, make widespread use of zero hour contracts, make use of anti-worker legislation to hold down pay and whose pay, terms and conditions are far inferior compared to local government where the services are transferred out from.
Unite union say they are seeking a six per cent increase in basic pay from April 2019 for members working for GLL.
A spokeswoman for GLL said: “Once again we refute the allegations made by Unite. We operate a fair deal on pay and consider the union’s inflation busting six per cent pay claim
unrealistic and unaffordable.
“All staff have already received the two per cent public sector pay award that mirrors the
majority of their council colleagues.
“GLL is a charitable social enterprise and has worked hard to keep local libraries open.
“We have a well-documented track record, spanning 25 years that proves we consistently and significantly improve the facilities we operate, increasing participation and accessibility.
“That is why again and again local authorities choose to partner with us and maintain long-term working relationships.”
“Our door remains open to discuss these issues with Unite.”
A council spokesman said, “The majority of Bromley library staff are not involved in
industrial action and are continuing to work as normal, with libraries remaining open.
The whole purpose of appointing GLL to manage Bromley’s libraries was to protect our
library service with the council’s record of multimillion-pound investment evident to
anyone looking into this.
“The minutes of the council meeting are clear and available on our website, and actual numbers of staff are not mentioned.
It was an important requirement of the contract the council agreed with GLL that
libraries were allocated sufficient, trained staff to perform the specified level of service.
“As well as professionally qualified librarians from across its wider team, GLL utilises casual staff which the council also had done historically too.
As was the case when the service was managed directly by the council however, casual staff are required to have appropriate skills and aptitude for the work they are asked to carry out.”