350 library workers in Sheffield have been on all-out indefinite strike since 5 June over the council’s threat to remove enhanced pay for weekend work, breaking national conditions of service. All workers in the Council’s leisure department face the same threat, resulting in a pay cut of up to 7% for some of the lowest paid workers.
The strike is solid. Clare Renshaw, a libraries shop steward and striker, spoke to Workers’ Liberty:
“This strike is about national conditions of service. We’re not striking for more pay but to keep hold of our pay. We are low paid, and women workers. We can’t afford to take a pay cut. If Sheffield council gets away with this, it will open up the floodgates for the rest of the country. Two years ago when council workers in Sheffield took a 21.25% pay cut, it gave the green light to other councils across the country.
“The support for our strike has been tremendous: both from the public and from other trade unions. 15,000 people have signed our petition. Morale is very high — we voted 4 to 1 to take the action, and support for the strike remains strong. Library workers have not been militant in the past but this strike has changed peoples’ attitudes.”
The Sheffield library workers urgently need donations to their Fighting Fund. All cheques should be made payable to “Sheffield UNISON 2” with “Fighting Fund” written on the back. Messages of support and requests for speakers should be directed to Sheffield UNISON 2, 175 Arundel Gate Court, Sheffield S1 2LQ (Tel: 0114-273 6307).