Industrial action threat recedes as councils effectively abandon library amalgamation plans

The risk of industrial action in libraries in 13 local authority areas has reduced after local authority managers effectively dropped plans to amalgamate library services in 12 counties. IMPACT trade union hailed the decision, revealed by local authority management at a meeting of the Local Authority National Council this afternoon (Wednesday) as “the best piece of library news for communities and workers in the affected counties since the economic crash.”

IMPACT says it will await written confirmation of the decision, which includes a commitment to fill vacant county librarian posts, before officially deferring its industrial action. But the union’s national secretary Peter Nolan said “The risk of industrial action in our library services has now reduced.”

The Local Government Management Agency told today’s meeting that library amalgamations in certain county councils were no longer a matter of principle for them. The agency, which represents county council management in discussions with unions, went on to say that the filling of vacant county librarian posts can now be considered. It said there was scope for substantial cooperation between library authorities, and committed to writing to the union on the matter within two weeks.

Today’s developments follow IMPACT’s lengthy campaign of opposition to library amalgamation plans, originally outlined in 2014, in the following local authorities: Carlow, Cavan, Cork City, Cork County, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath.

Mr Nolan said: “Our campaign won overwhelming support from the communities involved and their public representatives, for which we are grateful. This is the best piece of library news for communities and workers in the affected counties since the economic crash. It comes in the wake of a decision by library staff to take industrial action. While we will await the fine detail of the management proposals, the risk of industrial action in our library services has now reduced.”