Socialist Worker

Lambeth libraries workers stage unofficial walkout in protest at council cuts

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2480

Workers and supporters picketing in Lambeth

Workers and supporters picketing in Lambeth (Pic: Socialist Worker)


There is no library service in Lambeth today, Wednesday. Staff at all ten libraries across the south London borough have walked out unofficially in protest at the Labour-run council's cuts plan.

"We've had enough," library worker and Unison union member Beatrice told Socialist Worker.

"Cuts would go through before we would have time to ballot for industrial action, so we walked.

"The council is not listening to us. People expect their taxes to fund services but they are cutting a vital resource.

"Not everyone can afford to buy a computer or buy books - these cuts are not fair."

Libraries are under attack by the Labour administration as it tries to drive through a £90 million cuts package.

It wants to permanently close five libraries, turn some into gyms and reduce the overall service. Self service machines are going to become the norm.

But as Beatrice points out, "People can't talk to machines, and you always need humans when they inevitably break down."

Ten thousand people have signed a petition to oppose the cuts. Hundreds have protested and joined the campaign.

Opposition

Unison library rep Tim said, "The walkout is important as management are trying to get the cuts through before the opposition can grow. But we're seeing more and more Labour Party wards in the borough vote to oppose the plan.

"We ask people to contact councillors and challenge them before tonight's full council meeting, which is a key decision making neeting for these library cuts."

A huge demonstration is planned as trade unionists and local campaigners mobilise to stop the cuts going through. 

The Lambeth library cuts mirror attacks across Britain as councils drive through Tory austerity. But there is opposition everywhere.

Barnet Unison secretary John Burgess is no stranger to library cuts and fighting austerity. 

The union in the north London Tory borough has led opposition to cuts and privatisation.

John said the Lambeth walkout is "incredible". "Barnet Unison send solidarity and support to Lambeth library workers - we commend them," he said.

"Using industrial muscle is the strongest way to fight to defend jobs and services against these ideological cuts.

"When the Trade Union bill goes through and these attacks continue we'll see more of this kind action of action."

Workers spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity.
Join the protest tonight - 6.30pm, Elmgreen School, Elmcourt Rd, Tulse Hill, SE27 9BZ
Contact Save Lambeth Libraries at savelambethlibraries@googlemail.com or 07792843030
Send messages of support to savelambethlibraries@googlemail.com and J.Rogers@unison.co.uk

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