Unite strikers picketing outside Keighley library- photo Iain Dalton
Library & museum workers in Bradford are holding firm as they entered their third round of action, beginning with library workers in Keighley taking strike action on Monday, building up to all workers in the service striking together on Thursday.
Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser
John Giles, Unite Rep in Bradford Libraries and museums said “The dispute is going fantastically well, we’ve had great support from members of the public.”
Despite just one library being on strike, the turnout on the picket line was similar to the second day of the strike when the whole service was on strike, with strikers joined by service users, Unite Community activists, and other library workers on their day off.
After the previous round of strike action, Unite met with the council, and whilst it hasn’t resolved all the issues in the dispute, it is clear that the strike have forced them to move. John explained “The councillors are now looking at putting more money in to the service, or cutting less. They’re looking at paying the rent on the city centre library from other sources, and they’ve put in an extra £300,000 that they hadn’t wanted to, as they had wanted to make these cuts in April! We also know from their own figures that there’s an underspend in the department of £200,000.”
“When people say there’s no money, it’s a lie, the money is there. We’ve shown that if we stand in solidarity together, we can make that argument, and money can be found to protect these services.”
“The council have tried over the years to make these cuts without letting people know what is actually going on.”
The council are finally consulting over the next few weeks over the cuts to library services, and although as John pointed out “…it’s heavily weighted towards reducing paid staff, its weighted towards volunteers, self-service machines, closing libraries and reducing opening hours,” Unite are appealing to Bradford residents to attend these consultations and demand a fully-funded library service.
In the meantime, the strike continues with strikes at Shipley and Baildon, and then the whole service striking this week, with further strike action planned for the week of Monday 2nd December if the council don’t meet the strikers demands.
The ongoing support for the strike by Socialist Party members in Bradford, holding stalls in the city centre to build support for the strike, and supporting picket lines and rallies was recognised in the sale of 6 copies of the Socialist on the picket line.