Workers at 14 libraries have voted to go on strike on June 6 to protest against low pay and increased workloads caused by lack of staffing.
The 14 libraries are in Bromley borough and 98 per cent of the 50 library staff voted for the day of action after a long term dispute with employers Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL).
The strike, organised by trade union Unite, is calling on GLL to give a pay boost to workers and as a response to bosses not filling vacant posts; asking staff to be managers without paying the proper rate for the job; and failing to pay wages owed.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “The near unanimous vote for strike action by our Bromley library members sends a strong message to GLL bosses that: ‘Enough is enough’.
“Our members will walk out on 6 June and strike until a settlement is reached – this action will lead to the closure of the borough’s 14 libraries.
“We regret the inconvenience this will cause the public, but this strike has been a long time coming caused by the profit-hungry GLL with a management committed to ruthlessly salami-slicing our members’ pay and employment conditions.
“The evidence for this is incontrovertible – GLL promised the Tory-controlled Bromley council that it would implement library service cuts of over 25 per cent if it were awarded the contract to run this much-loved public service.
“Generally, profitable Greenwich Leisure Limited has a poor reputation as an employer and is always looking to maximise profits at the expense of the dedicated workforce which ensures the smooth running of leisure centres and libraries across the UK on a daily basis.
“GLL still has time before the Bromley strike starts on 6 June to sit down and talk with Unite to resolve these outstanding issues – Unite is standing by for such negotiations.”
A spokesman for GLL said: “There will be little public sympathy for this unmerited and regrettable industrial action. With the holiday season approaching, Unite are treading a well-worn path of calling a strike – which affects all library users but potentially harms the prospects of students revising for exams.
“We have a small number of vacancies in the service and are in the process of filling these.
“We operate a fair deal on pay but the union’s 6% pay claim is unaffordable and unrealistic. All staff have already received the public sector pay award their council colleagues have had.”
“As a not-for-profit social enterprise, we are very proud of our record of keeping libraries open and expanding the number of visits to libraries as well as book issues.
“Our door is always open to discuss genuine issues but this is definitely not one. We will be looking to keep as many libraries open as possible but we urge Unite to call off this self-defeating strike which they themselves admit must inconvenience customers.”
“We’ve told Unite that our door is always open to discuss their concerns – even at the eleventh hour.
“But this proposed strike is without merit given that staff have already had their 2% pay award this year.
“We intend to open all libraries on Thursday but with a third of librarians expected to strike, the union’s acknowledgement of customer inconvenience remains a source of regret.”