by Tim Lezard Library assistants in Greenwich are today taking strike action over staff cuts, reduction of service and pay. The strike by 84 Unite members will be followed by a work-to-rule from tomorrow. The dispute revolves around Greenwich Leisure L …

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by Tim Lezard

Library assistants in Greenwich are today taking strike action over staff cuts, reduction of service and pay.

The strike by 84 Unite members will be followed by a work-to-rule from tomorrow. The dispute revolves around Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) – the social enterprise company awarded the contract in 2012 to run the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s library service – saying that it will not replicate any pay rises that are awarded to local government workers, which was previously the case until a change in the law.

Unite believe that reductions in front-line staff numbers will have a negative impact on the service provided to Greenwich residents. Unite estimate 12 staff have been lost since GLL took over in 2012.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “This shows once again is that “social enterprise” is not a soft alternative to privatisation. GLL is behaving as badly as any profit hungry company.

“Since GLL took over the service one library has closed, the mobile service is under constant threat and staffing has been cut. On top of these cuts GLL have said it will not be replicating any pay rises that local authority workers get, which amounts to a kick in the teeth for those workers left to provide the service.

“Greenwich councillors need to take a long hard look at GLL – libraries are a public service and belong in the public sector.

“Our members will strike on 14 October – the work to rule from 15 October will prove our point – front-line staffing has been cut to the bone.”

Unite is preparing a London-wide campaign in defence of leisure workers claiming that in company after company the same poor employment practises exist.

Greenwich Leisure, which runs a number of leisure centres across the capital and uses zero-hour contracts for two thirds of its staff  – yet the company claims to be a ‘social enterprise’.


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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