Southampton library workers threaten strike over volunteers

<p>Public sector trade union Unison is to ballot its Southampton City Council library members about strike action, following plans to replace full-time staff with volunteers. </p><p>The Conservative-run council announced in its 2010/11 budget plan that it intends to replace six full-time staff with volunteers, with at least one of the city&#39;s libraries set to be run entirely by<br />volunteer staff. </p><p>Unison regional organiser Andy Straker said: &quot;There is real anger from our members over this issue. They feel that management and councillors are devaluing their skills and experience.&quot; </p><p>He added: &quot;If the council needs to make savings by cutting wages and employing volunteers then<br />I suggest they start with councillors. According to Southampton City Council website, councillors were paid in excess of &pound;690,000 in the year 2008-9.&quot; </p><p>The ballot on industrial action will run from 17th May to 7th June 2010.</p><p>A Southampton city council spokesperson said &quot;Our libraries are an extremely valued service and we recognise how important our libraries are to our residents. To move forward during these difficult economic times, the council is exploring the possibility of recruiting volunteers to support our existing staff to run our libraries.&quot; </p><p>He added that this meant &quot;an eventual small reduction in the amount of paid staff&quot; by not replacing some vacant posts. <br />&nbsp;</p>