A CHILDREN’S author supported strikers at Chester Library by reading them political poetry.
Alan Gibbons, winner of the Blue Peter Book Award 2000, felt moved to join striking librarians and their supporters on Saturday morning.
Librarians were among several groups of staff to take action over the Easter bank holiday weekend in protest at new contracts imposed by Cheshire West and Chester Council which mean they no longer receive extra pay for unsocial hours.
Mr Gibbons, who was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 2001 and 2003, said: “Torycontrolled Chester council has decided to remove national pay enhancements the staff receive for working weekends, bank holidays and overtime.
“The cuts in payments for nights and weekends is another blow to these workers who are already suffering redundancies and a three-year pay freeze, which has cut their real pay by over 10%.
“Amazingly, the council has even tried to undermine the strike action by offering double pay to people prepared to work and undermine their workmates’ action.
“I addressed the staff and their supporters, setting the dispute in the context of Chancellor Gideon Osborne’s debt reduction agenda which has led to wholesale library closures.
“I also read some of my poems.”
Striking staff included home care workers, housing staff, parking enforcement officers, park rangers, central control officers, CCTV officers, Streetscene operatives, children’s home staff, social workers and family support workers.
Negotiations are expected to continue between the council and unions this week.
Unison, which has accused the authority of refusing to compromise, is now considering strike action over the May bank holiday weekend.