Greenwich libraries

Workers show fighting back can win

A library steward
Greenwich libraries strike against privatisation, 27.4.12, photo Paul Mattsson

Greenwich libraries strike against privatisation, 27.4.12, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

The two days of strike action already taken by Unite members in Greenwich, south London, have sent a clear message to Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), that we will not accept attacks. GLL has now taken over the library service.

The most likely attack would have been an attempt to drop council library workers’ pay and conditions to the level of staff employed at GLL. But, in response to the campaign, GLL has now offered to come to an agreement that will confirm they will not do this.

In GLL’s original bid to win the contract they said they would “harmonise” pay and conditions. So an agreement to stop this would be a tremendous victory for Unite members.


The stewards have agreed to suspend further strike action while negotiations take place. This is the correct action as the employer is indicating that what they are likely to offer will be what the workers have been fighting for.

As part of the fight to defend the jobs, pay and working conditions of library workers we marched from Eltham library to Woolwich Library on 5 May. The route passed one of the Olympic venues on Woolwich Common.

The rather strange design of the buildings resembles the world occupied by the Teletubbies. It was therefore no surprise when we stopped outside the venue and started chanting “Save Tinky Winky!”.

This was not appreciated by the police and security guards looking after the venue.

They rushed to form a rather thin line of defence, so we wasted no time in calling on the security guards to join a trade union.

What has not been lost on the library workers is that while the money can be found for the fun and games of the Olympics, Greenwich council insists it has to cut and privatise.