Fighting library cuts in the Vale of Glamorgan
Vale Labour council closing four libraries
Around 100 people, including UNISON members, library users and anti-cuts campaigners gathered outside the Civic Offices in Barry on 28th April to protest against the Vale of Glamorgan council's plans to inflict brutal cuts on the library service.
A review document had been produced by the council containing the recommendation that four libraries (half the libraries in the county) should be "handed over to community management", with the staff of trained librarians cut and replaced by volunteers.
As well as the job losses and the existence of these libraries under threat, the document also recommended drastically reducing the opening hours of all the remaining libraries, slashing the hours of all full time staff, the termination of all staff on temporary contracts, and the introduction of charges for some services.
The UNISON branch quickly organised a protest lobby with only four days notice, and drew together tremendous support from the local community and further afield. Mark Evans, Branch Secretary of Carmarthenshire UNISON and Local Government Service Group Executive, addressed the gathering offering his solidarity and reminding those present that the cuts were being proposed by a Labour council.
Unfortunately, the Labour cabinet went ahead and voted to approve the review, but UNISON Branch Secretary Phil Carter vowed to those assembled that the fight would continue and this was just the start of the battle against cuts.
The strength and size of the lobby organised at such short notice showed just what can be achieved when union branches and the community come together to fight cuts, and those who attended went away confident and encouraged that together we are not powerless, there is an alternative to accepting cuts. The Socialist Party will be holding a public meeting on the fight to defend the libraries at The Windsor Hotel, Holton Road, Barry at 7.30pm on Wednesday 7th May.
Becky Davis (Barry Socialist Party)
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