Library workers join strike action

Library workers join strike action

Libraries around the country will be closed today (10th July) as thousands of public sector workers go on strike in protest over pay, pensions and cuts.

Staff from libraries will join teachers, council workers, firefighters, refuse collectors and civil servants in the strikes, which are backed by unions including the Public and Commercial Services Union, Unison, Unite, the National Union of Teachers and RMT.

Library manager Ian Anstice, who runs Public Library News, is one of the librarians striking. He explained on his site that he did not take action lightly, but said that a 1% pay offer meant that he and other library workers had suffered a 20% pay cut in inflation adjusted term since four years ago.

He said: 'I'm going to be brutally honest at this point therefore: it's coming to the stage where I find it hard to pay the mortgage. I love libraries but not enough to lose my house over them.  I care deeply about the job and above all I care deeply about the people I serve but I will need to go for a job outside the sector if these pay cuts (hidden as pay freezes or "increases" below inflation) continue… I hate striking. I want to keep libraries open, not closed. But sometimes a library worker has got to do what a library worker has got to do.  Including not working in a library."

Rosie Bartam, a library service advisor in Nottinghamshire will also be striking. She branded the government's 1% pay rise offer to local government workers "an insult", and said that in: "the last five years, our pay has lost about 20% of its value - and the cost of living keeps rising."

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "By starving local councils of the finance they need to deliver vital public services and pay staff a fair wage, the government is missing an opportunity to not only inject money into the economy but to create much-needed full-time jobs."

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to tighten strike ballot laws, with a cabinet office spokesman saying the "vast majority" of workers did not vote for today's action.