Librarians across Southampton began a ballot for strike action on Monday over the Tory council’s plans to replace staff with volunteers.
Around 95 percent of staff across the city’s 11 libraries are members of the Unison union, which is organising the ballot.
The council wants to replace six full-time staff with volunteers.
This will mean at least one of the city’s libraries being run entirely by volunteers.
The council is using the introduction of a self-booking system—which allows borrowers to check out and reserve books, CDs and DVDs—to justify the cuts.
The cost of implementing the system is £468,000 across six libraries.
Unison regional organiser Andy Straker said, “There is real anger from our members.
“They feel that management and councillors are devaluing their skills and experience.
“The inevitable consequences will be a worsening service to the public.
“If the council needs to make savings by cutting wages and employing volunteers then I suggest they start with councillors.”
Many library users are angry with the plans. The ballot runs until 7 June.
Hampshire library cuts
Tory-controlled Hampshire County Council plans to cut 11 percent from library spending.
The cuts will include the loss of the equivalent of 65 full time jobs.
The workers’ Unison union says that around 40 of the jobs cut will be from branch-based posts.
This will result in a worse service and difficult working conditions.
A mass meeting is being held in the coming week for library staff to discuss how to fight the cuts.