Library staff in Bradford will be holding a consultative ballot for industrial action as residents face swingeing cuts to the city’s 13 libraries and four museums. 

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, announced today (Monday 22 July) that it will hold a consultative ballot of its approximately 50 library and museum members to see if they wish to proceed to a full-scale industrial action ballot in defence of the library and museum service.

The ballot opens on 29 July and closes on 12 August.

Unite 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: “We are calling for the council to urgently reconsider this rolling programme of swingeing cuts that undermine Bradford’s libraries and museums – an integral part of the city’s social and educational fabric. 

“The impact of these cuts on users will mean that the council is moving towards predominantly community managed or hybrid libraries. These failed models will see libraries staffed by volunteers, rather than professional librarians who do far more than they are credited for, including running classes and assisting vulnerable people to complete benefit forms online.

“While we appreciate the local authorities have suffered brutal spending cutbacks since the Tories took power in 2010, this council has failed to undertake meaningful consultations with Unite.

“It is clear that the council bosses regard libraries and museums as a ’soft target’ for cuts – and this can’t be allowed to happen.

“The cuts include redundancies, and erosion of the terms and conditions of members.

“For some staff, this means undertaking supervisory duties with no increase in pay. Also, the museum visitor assistants are losing out on enhanced pay for weekend working. The council should be ashamed for attacking the low paid, mostly female, workers, in this fashion.

“Our members have been driven to despair by the council’s action and, as a result, they will be holding a consultative ballot to see if they wish to proceed to a full-scale industrial action ballot.

“We hope this shot across the bows will be a wake-up call for Bradford’s residents as to what is happening to a much-loved public service under their very eyes.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.