Bristol libraries staff strike over shift patterns

Bristol libraries staff vote to strike over antisocial shift patterns

Library assistants working for Bristol City council have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action if the cabinet does not reconsider its decision to keep all their libraries open but reduce the opening hours.

Coupled with a decision to open many more libraries on Saturdays, library staff, mostly women, will be working over more days for less pay. Library workers will be forced to spend more time and money travelling while having less opportunity to see their families or take a second job to make ends meet.

UNISON members voted four to one (almost 80%) in favour of strike action in an effort to get the Council to think again.

Steve Crawshaw, UNISON Bristol branch secretary said:

“Taking strike action is a last resort for us. UNISON has raised members concerns at every stage of the process but the changes are being steamrollered through. Members have had to sign up to these new shift patterns because in this economic climate they need the work, but the situation can’t continue any more”.

Judy Wilson, UNISON regional organiser said:

“It was a cabinet decision to keep the libraries open but reduce the hours. Staff had no say in the process until the decision had been made and by then management shrugged their shoulders and said they couldn’t do anything about it. Library workers want to see the service flourish but this can’t happen if their jobs are impossible to manage.”

The first date of strike action has yet to be scheduled, pending a last-ditch meeting where the library workers hope management will now listen to their concerns.

The strike ballot ran from March 15 to April 1. UNISON issued ballots by post to 89 library assistant members. 57 votes were returned with 45 supporting strike action.

UNISON represents over 90% of the library assistants employed by Bristol City Council