Bradford Libraries staff on strike this week

More than 70 Bradford libraries staff are on strike this week in a dispute over “devastating cuts”.

The picket demonstration will be held at Cartwright Hall Gallery. Pic: Tony Johnson

Unite members are taking industrial action at Keighley Library today, at Shipley Library tomorrow and Baildon Library on Wednesday over Bradford Council proposals to cut services.

On Thursday, staff will strike at all 14 sites and there will be a picket and demonstration at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery.

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Unite members said striking was a “last resort”.

The union said it has charted a decade of cuts to libraries and museums by the council – the latest £950,000 for the year starting April 2019 and a further £1.05m earmarked for the financial year starting April 2020.

Unite libraries rep John Giles said: “It is never easy to take strike action – it is always a last resort. But my fellow workers and I can’t stand by and allow these devastating cuts to Bradford’s libraries and museums to happen as they will have a terrible impact on the city’s cultural and educational heritage. I urge the council to have a serious rethink about its plans.

“The library and museums’ staff have been buoyed up by the great support we have had from the general public in our campaign which is for the benefit of all of Bradford’s residents.”

A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “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.

“During the course of any strike action… Bradford Council 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.”

Bradford Metropolitan District Council launched a consultation, which closes on Friday 20 December, on the future of the library service.A five-day stoppage is scheduled for the week starting 2 December.