Greenwich library coronavirus furlough deal could act as national template, says Unite

An agreement that has been hammered out which will see more than 100 workers at 12 Greenwich libraries furloughed on 100 per cent of pay during the coronavirus pandemic could be a nationwide model.

Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Thursday 23 April) that the agreement could act as a template for other library and leisure centre employers across the UK.

Unite has negotiated what it calls a model agreement with Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL), which runs the library service for Greenwich borough council, that not only covers the 100 per cent pay issue, but also ‘extremely vulnerable groups’, casual workers, sickness provisions, maternity leave and carrying over holiday for the next two years.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “This is a great win for our members working for Greenwich libraries and we believe this is a model agreement that could be replicated by other library and leisure centre employers across the UK, where it is not already in place.

“This agreement demonstrates that when it comes to pay and other employment conditions, what a difference it makes when the workplace has a strong union presence.

“Unfortunately, leisure workers employed by GLL in non-organised workplaces across the country have suffered cuts to wages – even where they have been furloughed.”

 Greenwich libraries are now closed, but staff are working from home, including providing the home delivery service that embraces online services and answering the public’s inquiries as book reading has reportedly soared amongst stay-at-home Britons during the pandemic.

The latest 100 per cent furlough win comes 24 hours after Unite negotiated a similar agreement in London for Woolwich Ferry workers now that there is a reduced ferry service across the Thames.

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