Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/480/2242
Hants library workers fight cuts
ON 22 March, striking librarians from across Hampshire marched through Winchester to show their anger at the Conservative county council's plans to cut 27 jobs and slash the pay of another 17 librarians.
These cuts would mean a reduction in the level of professional staffing by a massive 76% in three years. Those facing redundancy are the most senior and skilled librarians.
About 80 of the UNISON-organised workers chanted loudly and handed out leaflets to the public as they marched to raise awareness about the cuts.
Andrew Jose, chair of the Library stewards' committee told the socialist: "There is a strong public service ethos and the service operates on a lot of good will. It's not well paid. These cuts will destroy the knowledge base that has been built up."
At the rally afterwards, messages of support were read out from many workers, including Southampton university UNISON branch.
Library services face cuts throughout the country and other workers across the south have been taking action against privatisation and pay cuts, such as the care-workers and council workers recently on strike in Southampton.
The day after, Socialist Party members visited the picket line outside Winchester library to express our support. We spoke to Mary Pearson, UNISON convenor and a member of UNISON's national committee for pay and bargaining.
She was clear that the council didn't have to obediently make cuts because of shortfalls in central government funding: "For a long time UNISON have been urging local government to take a joint approach with workers and campaign for more funding." These attacks, which will especially hit services that encourage children to read - like school visits and holiday activities, expose Cameron's 'caring Conservatives' as only too willing to pick on what they perceive as soft targets. They are also slashing adult care services in Winchester.
But the striking librarians, who are prepared to take further action to defend jobs and services, show that workers have had enough. The question now is of uniting this growing fightback with a political alternative.
In The Socialist 30 March 2007:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
What we think
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party feature
Northern Ireland agreement
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news