Bromley library workers have been striking for six months over job cuts and conditions. Forced to re-ballot to continue the strike, they have voted unanimously to fight on. Their determination is an example to the labour movement.
The strike at Bromley library has been going strong for six months now. Library workers are fighting against the slashing of jobs and the degrading of terms and conditions for newer staff.
In addition, the strike is a protest against the ignorant and heavy-handed treatment of their concerns and complaints by GLL – the firm responsible for running the service.
On 11 November, the Bromley workers were forced to re-ballot in order to continue their fight, in accordance with the Tory anti-trade union laws currently in effect.
No doubt GLL were hoping that – after such a long and hard-fought struggle – morale would be low within the ranks. This could have led to a failure to reach the arbitrary 50% turnout threshold set by the law. Or, even better from the bosses’ perspective, workers might vote to end the strike altogether and return to work.
Such a long all-out battle of this nature is certainly unprecedented in recent years. GLL’s strategy, therefore, has been to try and win a war of attrition against the workforce. They no doubt thought that six months of constant strike action would be enough to settle things.
On this matter, however, as with so many others, GLL have shown just how little they understand the courage of the Bromley library workers.
In their initial ballot, Unite the Union members at the library voted 98% in favour of strike action. After six months of struggle – and knowing that the cold winter months are on their way – they nevertheless united to deliver a resounding 100% vote in support of continuing the fight. In other words, not a single worker voted to return to work.
Socialist Appeal supporters have frequently visited the picket lines. We have seen first hand the immense resolve of the strikers. And this result demonstrates that resolve perfectly.
Workers may put up with a lot in their daily working lives. But when they finally decide they’ve had enough, nothing can stop them. And in their never-ending quest to turn greater profits, bosses inevitably push workers until this point is reached.
By taking on both GLL and the Tory anti-strike laws, staff at Bromley library have set a shining example to the rest of the labour movement, demonstrating how workers can organise to defend their jobs, pay, and conditions.
When the library workers win this battle – and they will win – it will show that when our class stands together and fights, we can’t be beaten.
A Corbyn-led Labour government, armed with a clear socialist programme, should do its part by bringing library services in Bromley and across the country back into public ownership, under the control of workers themselves. Nobody can run this service better, after all, than the very workers who’ve battled so hard and so courageously to defend it.