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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 September 2016

Library workers defeat Tory cuts

Books, photo by Rodrigo Galindez (Creative Commons)

Books, photo by Rodrigo Galindez (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

A Unite the Union member

Library workers in Bromley, south London, have defeated their Tory council's plans to turn eight libraries into volunteer services.

The council had decided to force plans through despite massive public opposition. Petitions - and even the council's own biased consultation exercise - returned a massive majority against.

General union Unite, which organises Bromley library workers, led sustained strike action. This was alongside a huge publicity campaign to explain exactly why the union opposes volunteer libraries. The attack was also a main factor in two of the biggest marches through the borough in decades.

We have no problem with volunteering in principle - but not when it replaces public services, and not at the cost of paid jobs. The experience from volunteer libraries all over the country is slow death.

Organisations such as charities are sometimes more interested in using the space for themselves rather than functioning as a library. And the loss of staff professionalism is often there for all to see.

Tactically, we focussed on 'Bromley Community Links' - the organisation the council had chosen to put the volunteer plan together. We leafletted outside its HQ, targeted its events, and contacted affiliated groups and trustees.

Our message was clear. If the organisation assisted in destroying libraries, Unite would escalate the campaign against it. Last week Bromley Council announced Bromley Community Links had pulled out.

This is a magnificent victory against a vicious Tory council. It is hugely significant that this was trade union-led, rather than relying solely on a community campaign. Clearly there is space and a need for both - but this emphasises the role of unions in winning.

The council will now try to hand libraries to a private employer. But the victory against volunteer status is a huge boost. It's 1-0 to Unite - now we need to beat privatisation.

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In The Socialist 14 September 2016:


What we think

Labour party needs democratic structures and socialist policies


Socialist Party news and analysis

#KeepCorbyn: Fight workhouse conditions

NHS chiefs warn cuts mean rationing or charges

Fund smaller classes - not new grammars

Benefit cap could shut 67% of women's refuges

Them & Us

What We Saw


International socialist news and analysis

New 'strongman' president threatens martial law - while leaning on left parties for support

International news in brief


Socialist Party feature

Obesity crisis: government strategy offers no solution


Workplace news and analysis

Westbourne Park bus dispute continues

NSSN lobby of the TUC: an urgent time for our movement

Library workers defeat Tory cuts

Thousands of Post Office workers to strike against job losses

Southern Rail dispute update

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party youth and students

Why you should become a socialist student!

Students and workers unite to cut rents

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Join the Socialist Party - join the fightback


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Fighting fascism with motorbike stunts

The Socialist inbox


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Labour loses byelection but Corbyn isn't the problem

Protest against closure of vital heart unit

Socialist Party members join disability rights week of action

#KeepCorbyn


 

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Related links:

Bromley:

triangleBromley Libraries 'restructure' in middle of pandemic!

triangleLondon NSSN meeting

triangleVictory for library workers after 241 days on strike!

triangleBromley libraries strikers proved right

triangleBromley strikers - fighting on to save our libraries

Workers:

trianglePublic sector pay - NHS, teachers - Prepare for action!

trianglePreparing for struggle in post-Covid Britain

triangleLGBTQ+ workers' charter

Library:

triangleKeep the National Poetry Library free

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Unite:

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South London:

triangleSouth London Socialist Party: Pay the NHS workers

London:

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Privatisation:

triangleFight the health and care bill

Public services:

triangleTories keep bailing out bosses, while piling pain on workers and public services

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