Southampton librarians make Friday 13 unlucky for council bosses

Submitted by Matthew on 19 August, 2010 - 12:17 Author: Darren Bedford

Librarians in Southampton struck on 13 August against job cuts, de-skilling and casualisation. This followed a first round of action in June.

The council plans to staff libraries with unpaid and untrained volunteers, replacing six full-time trained workers, in order to cut costs. It has said it is dealing with “difficult economic times.” Speaking in the Southern Daily Echo at the start of the dispute several months ago, Unison’s regional organiser Andy Straker said “There is real anger from our members over this issue. They feel that management and councillors are devaluing their skills and experience. The fact that they believe they can just take people off the street to do our members’ work is an insult. Our members have given years of service to Southampton City Council and to be treated in this way is a disgrace. We believe that the inevitable consequences of these actions will be a worsening in service to the public. If the council needs to make savings by cutting wages and employing volunteers then I suggest they start with councillors.”

Council boss John Hannides has denounced the workers for “standing in the way of modernisation”. The cuts come off the back of the introduction of a £468,000 roll-out of self-service machines in six libraries. The council claims that the machines will allow them to axe 7.5 full-time equivalent posts and save around £140,000. It seems that Southampton council bosses want librarians’ work to be done by anyone — machines, untrained members of the public — as long as it isn’t actual (well-unionised) librarians...

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