UNISON STRIKE THREAT IF CONTROVERSIAL LIBRARIES PLANS GO AHEAD – “Edbrooke looking increasingly isolated” say union
Lambeth libraries staff have voted overwhelmingly for strike action to save jobs and keep all 10 Lambeth libraries open.
The move to strike comes as:
Unison say Labour-controlled Lambeth council are ploughing ahead with their proposals to turn three of the libraries into gyms and handing the buildings over to Greenwich Leisure Ltd.
Two of the Labour party wards in the Dulwich and West Norwood Parliamentary constituency have joined others in the borough in opposing the plans – their motions will be going to the Labour general council meeting this Thursday night.
Staff voted 89 per cent to strike against plans to close libraries and cut jobs. Unison say they will now be discussing extended strike action with the library workers in the borough.
“This strike vote follows a significant community campaign to keep the libraries open as well as a walk out by staff in December when news circulated that books were already being taken out of one of the libraries” said Unison in a statement.
“Several Labour Party wards have passed motions criticising their own council’s library closure programme and supporting the library staff and local community in their efforts to keep the library service open.”
The motion for Thursday night’s meeting – to be moved by a Thurlow Park branch delegate – calls on Lambeth council to:
1) reverse their decision to enter into agreement with GLL.
2) focus its resource on developing the proposals suggested by Lambeth head of libraries Susanna Barnes. (see separate story – Editor.)
3) launch an appeal to the wider community to contribute further proposals regarding the running of the library service.
4) take all proposals received to public consultation as soon as possible.
5) make sure that all ten libraries and the Home Visit Service remain open as fully-functioning libraries after 1 April 2016
James Goodman, Thurlow Park Labour Party member who is moving the motion, says: “Many Labour Party members are unhappy about the local cuts and want our councillors to stand up for the local community and our needs.”
Unison rep Tim O’Dell, Lambeth Libraries and Archives, says: “Lambeth council have been presented with a way out of their wasteful and unnecessary attempt to close Lambeth’s libraries.
“The community have shown that they will not stop in their defence of their libraries and staff have dedicated themselves to the campaign with strike action if necessary.
“Now the internal opposition within the Labour party is growing to a point where Cllr Jane Edbrooke is looking increasing isolated in her attempts to sell off libraries.
“Now is the time to listen to what Lambeth people are saying – scrap the closures – there is an alternative!”
Ruth Cashman from Lambeth Unison said: “This vote shows the commitment library staff have to defending the services we provide to our communities. “We know that libraries can change lives, we know this is nothing short of cultural vandalism and we won’t stand by while our library network is dismantled.”
Thursday night’s meeting: Meet at 7.30 p.m. on Thursday January 21st outside the The Methodist church hall, 155 Half Moon Lane, SE24 9HU