Lambeth Libraries set to strike against cuts in jobs and services

Posted: July 15, 2011 by rabidleftwinger in Cutswatch, Libraries, Press release

NEWS RELEASE

Contact for enquiries – Jon Rogers 07957 505 571

UNISON members in Lambeth libraries are taking strike action over proposed cuts which will destroy the service. 90% of library staff in Lambeth are members of UNISON and all libraries are expected to close on 22 July 2011 unless the council withdraw its proposals.

Lambeth Labour Council is cutting £1.2 million pounds from the library service over the next 3 years. The first round of cuts is a cut from the Cultural Services staff budget which threatens all Enquiry Desk staff with redundancy and deletes all the librarian jobs in the borough.

Enquiry desk staff buy books, advise readers on book choices, job hunting, local information and council services, well as helping people find stock in the library. They also run all the reading groups, parent and toddler storytimes, silver surfer sessions, workshops and organise events bringing authors to local libraries.

Ruth Cashman, UNISON steward for West Norwood Library explains that the cuts make staffing levels in libraries unviable but there is an alternative.

“The cuts proposed by the council will mean the end of many of the libraries’ best loved services; reading groups, author talks, storytimes and ‘Silver Surfers’. They will also mean people can’t get help finding jobs or bidding for council houses. One library will close due to inadequate staffing as soon as someone takes annual leave!

Some jobs in Cultural Services are safe, in fact there are new positions created for backroom managers who don’t have contact with the public or deliver any of the much loved services. Valued frontline jobs are being axed but the managers who should be talking responsibility for the crumbling library buildings or the preventable closure of West Norwood Library are escaping any effects of the cuts.

UNISON has proposed a structure that protects frontline services and avoids compulsory redundancy whilst still making the required savings. The council have a choice whether to accept it or plough ahead with their unworkable plans.

Library staff are striking for the future of a service we care about – Staff don’t want to close libraries even for a day. If the council agree to our proposal, which saves jobs and services, as well as money, the strike will be called off – they have a choice.”

Notes

1) UNISON is meeting management to try to negotiate a resolution of the
dispute up to and including Thursday 21 July.
2) If the strike goes ahead then there will be picket lines on the morning of
Friday 22 July. The main picket line and photo opportunity will be
outside Brixton Library.

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