Head teachers in Greenwich are being urged to support the campaign to save the council’s mobile library service which deliveries at least 22,000 books a year to children and those with mobility problems in the borough.
Unite, the country’s largest union, is spearheading the campaign against the council’s plans to scrap the mobile library service, which will lead to an annual £126,000 in so-called ‘efficiency savings’; despite the fact the council has £320 million in its reserves.
Unite will be balloting its 84 library members in Greenwich from today (Monday 11 January) for industrial action short of a strike and/or for strike action to save the mobile library. The ballot closes on 29 January.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said in a letter to 33 head teachers: “In Greenwich, action by this trade union has ensured that our libraries are adequately staffed and our previous campaigns have prevented proposed closures.
“We are now having to campaign again to prevent the closure of the mobile library service. I am now writing to ask for your support.
“The mobile library service in Greenwich issues in excess of 22,000 books to children across the borough. The mobile library visits schools and nurseries where visits to a static library would be too difficult, maybe even impossible to organise.”
Onay Kasab described this proposal as ‘the thin end of the wedge’, as the council views the mobile library as a first, easy target; and that the borough’s 11 static libraries will follow in being closed or being run by unpaid volunteers instead of trained, professional staff.
The mobile library visits schools, nurseries and children’s centres that are unable to visit static libraries. According to the council’s own figures, a minimum of 22,000 books will not be issued to children, if the mobile library is scrapped.
Access for the frail and those with mobility difficulties could also be impacted, as it may isolate them and take their independence away - the mobile library is a community life line.
The council has started a consultation exercise
, which closes on 27 February, on the future of the mobile library.
The libraries are run by Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) as a so-called social enterprise set up by Greenwich council to run its leisure services. GLL now bids for contracts across the country.
Unite said that 75 per cent of GLL’s staff are on zero hour contracts and it refuses to pay the London ‘living wage’ of £9.40 per hour to staff who work in the leisure side of the business.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble in the Unite press office on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.