Workers at Bromley’s public libraries have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.
The library workers, employed by swimming pool operators GLL, Greenwich Leisure, are fighting for better pay and an end to zero-hours contracts.
Zero hours contracts are effectively the casualisation of labour, where the employer pays by the hour or shift, but they don’t have to guarantee any set amount of working hours to the worker.
The Bromley union members voted for strike action by a margin of 86% and Unite representatives will be meeting in the coming week to agree strike dates. GLL has a window to avoid strike action.
Tory-run Bromley has outsourced the running of its public libraries to GLL, a proposal similar to that which was being seriously considered in the past by Conservatives when running Croydon Council.
In charge of the borough’s libraries then was Sara “Book Token” Bashford, who was at the time in a relationship with Stephen Carr, the leader of Bromley Council. So Croydon’s GLL libraries outsourcing proposal was definitely a piece of carefully considered civic management, and not just a piece of idle pillow talk…
GLL, which originated from Greenwich Council’s leisure department, does have the contract to operate Croydon’s sports centres and leisure facilities.
It is supposed to be a “social enterprise” and they claim to be a “staff-owned organisation”. Yet GLL won’t recognise trade unions and it refuses to negotiate on pay.
At GLL, people are elected onto a staff representative board called a “society” that makes the key decisions. But only permanent staff can have full ‘society’ status. Out of GLL’s 10,800 staff, 6,313 are on zero-hour contracts. This includes many Bromley library staff.
Unite national lead officer, Onay Kasab said: “The workers on zero-hour contracts are treated like second-class citizens and our members in Bromley have had enough.
“Insecure hours and low pay is bad enough. But GLL excludes zero-hour workers from key parts of the very process which the company claims makes it a staff-led organisation.
“Despite claiming to be staff-owned most workers can’t seek election or attend and vote at the AGM.
“The company states it is owned by staff and is committed to making the world a better place to live in. Yet it fails the first test by failing to recognise or negotiate with a trade union.”
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The workers in Bromley are gearing up for a campaign to fight low pay and the injustice of zero hours. Unite is right behind them, their union is backing them all the way.”
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