The eight-month dispute at Bromley libraries has been settled, following an agreement between Unite and the employer, Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), it was announced today (January 30).
The 50 library staff, who started their strike at the borough’s 14 libraries on June 6 last year, will return to work on Wednesday (February 5).
The agreement includes new staffing structures being introduced and no compulsory redundancies. Agreement has also been reached on pay progression and arrears’ payments.
Both GLL and Unite have stated that they share a wish to keep libraries open and maintain this valuable service to the public.
Unite members began an all-out indefinite strike action in June 2019 regarding a number of issues, including staffing. During the strike action, GLL announced a new job structure which could have led to immediate job losses for current staff.
Unite has, throughout the dispute, highlighted that it made clear to Bromley council in 2017, when the decision was made to outsource the service to GLL, that as a result cuts to staffing levels would follow.
This was based on Bromley council agreeing to a proposal that the service should be provided at a cheaper price when outsourced than Bromley paid when the service was in-house. Unite demanded at the time to know how this would be done – and Bromley council failed to answer, claiming ‘commercial confidentiality’.
The union made public its concern that this would come through cuts to staff numbers, while Bromley councillors made claims that staffing would not be reduced.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said, “I want to pay tribute to every single one of our members in Bromley who have made a magnificent stand in defence of the library service.
“This has been one of the longest all out, indefinite strikes of recent times and serves as an example to workers across the country preparing to fight the latest onslaught of council cuts,” he added.
“Bromley council is at the forefront of implementing Tory cuts which is why this dispute is so important. We have come away with an agreement which protects jobs and ensures that our members are paid what they are owed. That is an achievement that every one of our members can be proud of.”