Lambeth librarians on strike next week (8 February) will be joined by colleagues in Greenwich who are taking action again their employer GLL – the organisation that Lambeth has chosen to turn three of its 10 libraries into gyms.
Greenwich members of the Unite union are striking over GLL’s plans to shut down the mobile library service in the borough.
Lambeth’s Unison union said local residents were planning to occupy libraries threatened with closure, including Waterloo, Carnegie, Tate South Lambeth and Minet as well as Upper Norwood which would be run with no paid staff under Lambeth Council’s proposals.
Ruth Cashman of Lambeth Unison said: “We are striking to protect our library network in Lambeth. We will keep fighting with the communities we serve to defend all ten Lambeth libraries”.
A Unison news release quoted a Greenwich library staff member who, it said, did not want to be named for fear of reprisals: “Greenwich Council and GLL are snatching books from the hands of children. The mobile library issues 22,000 books a year to children – that is what is being cut. When the council handed the libraries over to GLL, they said it was to protect libraries from closure. They lied.
“In Greenwich, it’s not councillors defending libraries – it’s us.”
Unison said that since GLL took over library services in Greenwich staff had been on strike against changes to terms and conditions.
It said threequarters of GLL’s staff were on zero-hour contracts and it that the company had refused to pay the London living wage of £9.40 an hour to staff working for the leisure side of its business. GLL runs Lambeth’s leisure facilities, including Brixton Rec.