Library workers plan strike over ‘very low’ pay and employers ‘refusing’ to negotiate

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter 

Library workers have planned to strike after claims of “very low” pay and their employer refusing to negotiate with the workers’ union. 

A group of 70 library workers for Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) in Greenwich borough have agreed to take industrial action in the new year, which could result in widespread closures of libraries across the borough.

The move comes after the employer failed to offer an acceptable pay increase for the past year, according to the Unite workers’ union. 

The union claimed in a statement on December 14, that GLL had “completely refused” to negotiate with Unite, something GLL strongly refutes. 

Workers were said to be on as little as £12.10 an hour. The current London living wage is £13.15 an hour.

Staff at Charlton Library, located in Charlton House, will be going on strike (Picture: Google Street View)

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said in a statement: “It is gobsmacking that an employer who claims to be a social enterprise and run by its staff not only doesn’t pay a decent wage, but refuses point blank to negotiate with the workers’ union.”

The statement criticised the five per cent pay increase GLL workers had received this year, comparing it with the 11 per cent rate of inflation. 

The union added that the social enterprise had also refused to offer permanent contracts to temporary staff and add an acceptable occupational sick pay scheme.

Unite regional officer Mary Summers said in a statement: “GLL needs to take a long hard look at itself and the damage it is going to needlessly inflict on library services in Greenwich. 

“It needs to up its game and offer proper pay and conditions to its workers.”

A GLL spokesperson told the LDRS that the union’s local ballot consisted of only library members in Greenwich and had succeeded by the “narrowest” of margins. 

The social enterprise said it was disappointed by the decision and felt the move was unnecessary given its efforts to engage regularly in recent months on the issues raised by the union.

They said: “As an independently operating staff-owned national co-op, we are very focussed on the pay and conditions of our people. 

“We are accredited with the Living Wage Foundation, and have raised pay for entry-level staff by up to 12 per cent this year. 

“The announced uplift in the Real Living Wage will be reflected in the 2024 pay award for all our eligible staff.”

(Picture: PA)

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:


If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.