National Library of Wales staff to protest on 24 September

National Library of Wales staff to protest on 24 September

Members of the three unions at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth will protest on Wednesday 24 September to draw attention to the institution’s pay problems.

The protest, between 12-1pm, is not designed to affect core library services and follows the unions’ joint strike on 10 September which led to closure of the library.

Library staff have not had a consolidated pay rise (ie a permanent pay rise that counts towards pension contributions) since 2009. This has resulted in a 20% real-terms drop in the value of their wages. A number of library staff earn less than the living wage – the minimum the Welsh government has said should be paid to public sector workers.

Union members have rejected the library’s latest pay proposals, including a one-off, unconsolidated payment and a commitment to move towards paying the living wage.

The unions have put costed proposals to the library for a consolidated pay award and changes to the lower grades to ensure that all staff receive the living wage. This would give staff their first pay rise in five years.

Doug Jones, trade union side chair, said: “We understand that the National Library has received several cuts to the yearly budget over the past decade, but continuing a five-year pay freeze, especially when people are earning below the living wage, isn’t sustainable. Other bodies are managing to offer consolidated pay deals to their staff, and we know that the library has the money.

“The library has called our action ‘premature’ and asked for more time. We have been more than patient over the years, trying to give management the opportunity to deal with the cuts, but nothing has changed.

“We are worried for the future of the library, and feel the only way we can make our case is through action. We don’t want to inconvenience our users but we are prepared to undertake a continued programme of action, including strikes,” he added.