Magazine article American Libraries

British Library Workers Strike over Wages. (News Fronts)

Magazine article American Libraries

British Library Workers Strike over Wages. (News Fronts)

Article excerpt

Union strikes over pay increases disrupted library services throughout Great Britain July 17, and affected some services at the British Library July 29, August 8, and August 9.

More than 750,000 municipal workers in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland went on strike July 17, shutting libraries, schools, and museums and disrupting such services as ferries and garbage collection.

Unions had requested a 6% pay increase for workers, but local authorities said they couldn't afford more than a 3% raise, according to a July 18 BBC News report. "The trade union claim is substantially in excess of the rate of inflation and, if agreed, can only lead to loss of jobs and higher taxes," read a statement issued by the Welsh Local Government Association.

Union officials declared the 24hour walkout--the first such action since 1979--an overwhelming success and threatened further actions unless employers agreed to more talks, the London Times reported July 18.

Another strike planned for August 14 was averted, however, after two days of negotiations produced a deal offering incremental increases, resulting in raises from 7.7% to 10.9% over two years. The deal also included establishing a commission to report within a year how to ensure equal pay for workers, the BBC reported August 6.

Industrial action was suspended for approximately six weeks so both sides could consult their memberships.

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In a separate action, the Public and Commercial Services union, which includes library assistants, called for walkouts at the British Library in late July and early August after the library refused to offer more than a 4% pay increase. …

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