Plans to axe all the librarians working for Westminster city council and Kensington and Chelsea council will damage a first class library service and should be put to public consultation, Britain’s largest union, Unite said today (Thursday 13 October).
According to Unite, council chiefs have sought to keep the public in the dark over the plans, which will see 36 jobs, including all librarian posts across the two boroughs axed, and librarians forced to take pay cuts of up to £10,000 if they want to keep a job in the library service.
Under the plans, librarians face losing their job or applying for a new lower graded library customer service officer role and taking a ‘voluntary’ pay cut of thousands of pounds. Alternatively bosses are proposing they apply for one of the new service delivery manager roles, which Unite says are already earmarked for existing library managers and for which they aren’t qualified.
Accusing council bosses of ‘filleting’ the library service, Unite warned of a significant loss of expertise which would hit customer service and learning in both of the council’s lending and archiving services.
Westminster city council and Kensington and Chelsea council library services are part of a combined tri-borough agreement which also includes the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
Commenting Unite regional officer Jayesh Mistry said: “Librarians with masses of expertise are effectively being told ‘accept pay cuts of thousands of pounds or there’s the door’ while the public they serve are being kept in the dark.
“It’s a disgraceful way to treat people who take pride in their job and a move that will de-professionalise a library service which people from all walks of life in the community rely on.
“The public has a right to be consulted on the axe being taken to librarians and the inevitable impact it will have on their library service. Council bosses need to come clean with the public and rethink these callous short sighted plans.”
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.