Southampton library staff balloted over strike

Southampton librarians are being balloted on industrial action following the local council’s decision to replace at least six full-time staff with volunteers.

Two-thirds of staff at Southampton’s libraries are members of Unison, the union organising the ballot, the Daily Echo has reported, so a strike could close all 11 libraries.

Library boss councillor John Hannides said there was less need for trained librarians following the introduction of a new self-booking system, at a cost of £468,000. Cutting seven-and-a-half full-time equivalent posts will save £137,000.

Unison regional organiser Andy Straker said members felt councillors were devaluing employees’ skills and experience. He said: “If the council needs to make savings by cutting wages and employing volunteers, then I suggest they start with councillors.”

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