Libraries should should not be used as "soft targets" for austerity cuts, a leader of the Bromley-wide strike said.

Fifty library staff in Bromley have been striking since June 6 over staffing and other issues relating to Greenwich Leisure Limited's stewardship of the borough's 14 libraries.

The Union says the libraries are an integral part of the "educational and social fabric" and that this week's annual celebration should be used to highlight their importance.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab, who is leading on the Bromley dispute, said: “Libraries are fundamental to the educational DNA of society and for far too long they have been viewed as a ‘soft target’ for relentless cost-cutting which goes back to the start of the Tories’ brutal austerity drive in 2010.

“Libraries Week should highlight the importance that these much-loved establishments play in public life – and demonstrate, yet again, why they are worth fighting for.

“GLL in Bromley recently announced that at least 30 jobs would disappear in a so-called restructuring.

"Our members in Bromley, who have been on continuous strike since June, deserve double praise for predicting what was coming and making sure everybody knows what this appalling company GLL is doing.

“The fact is that even with current staffing numbers the service is struggling.

"This latest proposal means library closures are definitely on the cards.”

Workers are on indefinite strike over pay and vacant roles left by GLL, which manages libraries on behalf of the council.

Unite launched a petition calling for Bromley Council to take the service back in house, backed by several hundred people, which was dismissed by the Council as "unnecessary".

Councillor Peter Morgan, executive councillor for renewal recreation and housing, said: “The strike by Unite members is regrettable and unnecessary.

"At a time when we are trying to improve libraries it is a shame that the Union is determined to make life difficult for library users.”

GLL said the union’s figures “do not stack up”, but confirmed it is intending to reviewing its parity in comparison to other library services.

A GLL Spokesperson said: “We agree with Unite that libraries are an integral part of the educational and social fabric of society.

"GLL operates some of the busiest libraries in the country. Far from closing them, where GLL operates libraries, we are proud to say they stay open and issues and visits increase, as they have done in Bromley since the transfer to GLL.

“We have met with Unite to discuss proposals for transforming the Bromley Library Service to create a more customer focussed service that also uses the full potential of information technology. 

"Our proposed Optimal Staffing Structure is out for consultation with Unite and staff who are not taking strike action.

“We do not recognise the figures which Unite have quoted in relation to ‘jobs disappearing’: some posts will be reduced as we move staff from back offices into libraries, but our goal would be to reduce staff numbers through staff retiring or leaving the Bromley service rather than through compulsory redundancy."


“Discussions with the union are ongoing.”