Threat to Wexford library services prompts industrial action ballot

Staff in Wexford public libraries are balloting for industrial action in a dispute over the implementation of new library staffing structures, which their union IMPACT says could damage services to library users. The 45 staff members are also disputing management’s refusal to allow part-time staff to increase their hours, even though new full-time staff are being hired.

IMPACT official Shay Clinton said management was undermining already flexible arrangements over staffing levels which had served the local community well, even during the economic crash that had resulted in a recruitment embargo.

The union has written to local councillors to outline how staffing proposals drawn up by a Dublin-based planning group could reduce the range of library services available to local communities in Enniscorthy, New Ross, Gorey and Bunclody.

Mr Clinton said: “Local libraries are vital social hubs in rural and urban communities that have already lost shops, garda stations, post offices and other local amenities. We can’t allow our thriving library system to be to be gutted on foot of a remote number-crunching exercise, which doesn’t reflect local needs or the realities of community life in Wexford.

“Staff are also incensed at the unfairness of refusing part-time library staff extra working hours when new posts recently became available after years of cutbacks. These loyal part-time staff, who did additional hours to keep libraries open during the recruitment moratorium, have now been cast aside by Wexford County Council management.”

IMPACT says the result of its ballot will be announced early in July. If staff back industrial action, the precise form of action will be decided then.

Information about Wexford libraries (all figures 2014 unless stated):

594,447 items borrowed.

528,260 visits to branches.

7, 859 new members in 2015, and 7,801 in 2014.

52,170 hits on website main page (2015).

6,487 Twitter followers.