Library workers struck across Hackney in east London last Saturday in protest at cuts in their Saturday pay. The strike was excellently supported and very successful. It was a boost to workers and anti-cuts campaigners in their long battle against the vicious Labour-run council.
Library strikes are planned for every Saturday. The action comes as the council considers £50 million of cuts, which include the closure of three or four libraries. New Labour is pushing the cuts through in the teeth of widespread opposition from community groups and the council workers' UNISON union. The council is in deep financial trouble due to the costs of privatisation and chronic government underfunding.
Its response has been to sack its workforce and offer them their jobs back with lower pay, longer hours and less holidays. It has also cut vital services. Earlier in the year the employer sacked a trade union negotiator over issues arising directly out of his participation in trade union duties. Facility time arrangements are also now being cut.
UNISON is set to ballot grounds maintenance staff over cuts in their pay, and has requested a branch-wide ballot over the cuts. A big lobby of a council cuts-setting meeting was planned for Wednesday of this week.