Library and museum staff in Bradford will strike for 14 days this autumn over swingeing cuts to the city’s 14 libraries and museums, which could see funding axed by 65 per cent.
The first two day strike will be on 21 and 22 October and then there will be a three day strike on 5, 6 and 7 November.
This will be followed by a four day stoppage between 18 and 21 November inclusively and a five day strike on 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 December.
This follows Unite members voting by 77 per cent for strike action and 94 per cent for industrial action short of a strike in defence of the library and museum service.
Bradford Council previously said it was “disappointed” and that it was unclear why the union had called the strikes, which will affect nearly 40 per cent of library and museum staff.
Unite said it has charted a decade of cuts to libraries and museums by the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council – the latest £950,000 for the year starting April 2019 and a further £1,050,000 earmarked from April 2020.
Unite regional officer Mark Martin said: “The 14 days of strike action throughout the autumn we have announced today are a very strong shot across the council’s bows.
“It is a wake-up call for the council to come to the table for constructive negotiations – Unite’s door is open 24/7 for such talks.
“The number of strike days demonstrates how passionately our members feel about the swingeing cuts that the council is hell-bent on forcing through which could see funding for this service axed by 65 per cent.
“We have had great and heart-warming support from members of the Bradford public and the surrounding areas. We are confident that this support will continue during the forthcoming strikes.
“The council’s failure to engage with Unite is in sharp contrast to its aspiration to be UK City of Culture 2025.
“Libraries and museums remain an integral part of the city’s social, cultural and educational fabric – and we continue to believe that they are worth fighting for.”
A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “It remains unclear why Unite have adopted this position and this is compounded by the fact that Unite representatives have so far turned down a number of invites to present their concerns regarding our consultation process to date.
“The Council has finished consultation for the 2019/20 changes to the libraries and museums services and they were implemented on 1 September. No libraries were closed during this process.
“We believe that Unite would be better served working with us, offering their views on what can be done to achieve the savings required of the library service in the face of prolonged government cuts and helping to shape the future of our library service, rather than taking this action which will primarily impact library service users and be of no benefit to staff or residents.”
Bradford Council added that during the strike action it will take steps to help ensure that library services are still provided to residents.
“We will also continue with plans to commence a programme of engagement and consultation with all stakeholders about the future of the library service in Bradford District.”