Greenwich libraries (see notes) face the prospect of severe disruption or closure on Tuesday 14 October when staff strike in a dispute over staff cuts, reduction of service and pay.
The 84 library assistants and senior library assistants - members of Unite, the country’s largest union – are taking strike action for 24 hours from 00.01 on Tuesday against Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), the social enterprise company awarded the contract in 2012 to run the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s library service.
The strike on Tuesday will be followed by a ‘work to rule’ from Wednesday 15 October 2014.
The dispute revolves around GLL saying that it will not replicate any pay rises that are awarded to local government workers, which was previously the case until a change in the law. Unite believe that reductions in front-line staff numbers will have a negative impact on the service provided to Greenwich residents. Unite estimate 12 staff have been lost since GLL took over in 2012.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “This shows once again is that "social enterprise" is not a soft alternative to privatisation. GLL is behaving as badly as any profit hungry company.
“Since GLL took over the service one library has closed, the mobile service is under constant threat and staffing has been cut. On top of these cuts GLL have said it will not be replicating any pay rises that local authority workers get, which amounts to a kick in the teeth for those workers left to provide the service.
“Greenwich councillors need to take a long hard look at GLL - libraries are a public service and belong in the public sector.
“Our members will strike on 14 October - the work to rule from 15 October will prove our point – front-line staffing has been cut to the bone."
Unite is preparing a London-wide campaign in defence of leisure workers claiming that in company after company the same poor employment practises exist.
Greenwich Leisure, which runs a number of leisure centres across the capital and uses zero-hour contracts for two thirds of its staff – yet the company claims to be a ‘social enterprise’.
For further information please contact Unite regional officer Onay Kasab on 07771 818637 and/or Unite communications officer Martin Scanlon on 07764 655751 and/or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1
Abbey Wood, Blackheath, Charlton, Claude Ramsey, Coldharbour, Eltham, East Greenwich, the Mobile Service, New Eltham, Plumstead, Slade and Lewisham.
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.