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From The Socialist newspaper, 10 February 2016

South London: library workers strike to save services

A Unite member

Library workers in Greenwich and Bromley have taken strike action against the proposed swingeing cuts to their respective libraries, despite the fact that Greenwich council has 320 million in reserves and Bromley council more than 400 million in its coffers.

Strikers joined the campaign group 'Speak up for libraries' in a lobby of parliament on 9 February where campaigners and Unite the union made the point that councils could actually be breaking the law by not providing a "comprehensive and efficient" library service.

Bromley Unite walked out from 6 to 13 February in a long-running dispute over the council's privatisation programme, including at the 14 libraries where there are plans to replace professional staff with volunteers.

Meanwhile in Greenwich, Unite members have taken strike action from 9 to 12 February in protest against the proposed withdrawal of the mobile library service.

We have a huge democratic mandate with a 90% yes vote after a turnout near 80%, in a library workforce where Unite density is 95%.

If not challenged, other closures will follow. That is why we are taking action. We cannot wait until it is too late.

In the same week Unison members in Lambeth took strike action as part of their continued campaign against plans to close five of the ten libraries and sell them off to become private gyms.

No hush, no quiet, these librarians want to riot!

Unite the Union campaign update, 10.2.16

The industrial action has certainly focussed attention on our campaign. In order to keep libraries open, the employer has drafted in managers and sessional staff on zero hour contracts who are not paid the London Living Wage.

The first point is that nobody can say that the action has not had an impact - the measures that the employer has taken speaks for itself.

But secondly, the employer can no longer hide behind the cloak of being a social enterprise, that somehow this makes it 'better' than a private company.

We have uncovered appalling levels of bullying being employed to force non library and/or sessional staff to break the strike.

The strike action has also focussed the attention of campaigners across the country on what is happening in Greenwich. We took the opportunity to use the lobby of parliament as part of the Speak Up For Libraries week to promote our campaign - the result is increased interest from across the country. Our strike even got mentioned in the Northern Echo!

On the picket lines, we have been able to build increased public support by making full use of the opportunity to leaflet and petition. We also linked up with campaigners in Bromley, Lewisham and Lambeth during the week and are building for a joint borough campaign committee.

We now need to keep the pressure on and keep up the momentum. We have two events that we are asking people to attend.

We have again asked for permission to address the Council Cabinet Committee. In addition, a meeting of the full council is taking place the week after. Details of both the events are below.

This is a campaign we can win. Everybody can see we are right - that is why 15 new members have joined the union over the last couple of weeks. We are determined to save the Mobile and in doing so send a clear message to GLL and the council - No library closures!

Lobby of council cabinet

17th February, 6pm, at the town hall

Lobby of full council meeting

24th February, 6pm, at the town hall

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In The Socialist 10 February 2016:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Fight council cuts!

Tories bankrupting NHS

Defiant mood as junior doctors demonstrate

Lawyers defeat Tories' unjust legal aid cuts

Cushy government job for Amazon boss

'Pro-rape' anti-feminist Roosh V humiliated

Liverpool fans walk out against ticket price hikes

Them & Us

Socialist Party feature

Mental health: system in crisis

Mental health: My battle for the help I needed

What we think

Cameron's EU renegotiation charade

Don't give money to Ukip and Tory EU campaigners!

Momentum, Labour and the Socialist Party

Lack of strategy and exclusions threaten Momentum

Birmingham: socialists kicked out of Momentum

Labour right wing blocks call to debate budget cuts

Socialist Party workplace news

No-cuts strategy needed to save 25,000 council jobs

Local government union backs no-cuts council budgets

Big victory at Small Heath School against academy attack

Cuts to premiums mean no 'rise' in store for Tesco workers

Leicester taxi dispute: Labour's rank hypocrisy

South London: Library workers strike to save services

Continued action in crane drivers' pay dispute

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Portsmouth: support for anti-austerity stand

Leeds meeting expresses Corbyn and McDonnell's contradictions

Socialist Party members inspired by conference

Torbay: "A tale of two towns"

Anger against plans to close Bradford libraries

NHS campaign gains support

International socialist news and analysis

Sanders' socialist message rattling the establishment

US elections: Clinton coins it

International news in brief


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