BY ALEX MILNE
MELBOURNE — On February 4, librarians employed at the State Library of Victoria, staged a one-day strike in support of their demand for a 6% pay rise and worker representation on the SLV board.
SLV librarians are among the lowest paid library workers in Australia, with degree-qualified librarians being paid under $30,000 per year. This is 19.8% below the national average. Female-dominated industries are usually lower-paid than their male counterparts, and 70% of SLV librarians are women.
The SLV board had made a offer of a 3% pay rise and board members refuse to negotiate, storming out of meetings when they did not get their way.
"We're forced to maintain excellent services to the public while there's staff cutbacks and minimum wage increases. These factors are the cause of very low staff morale", Hellena Lozanovski, an SLV library attendant, told Green Left Weekly.
The noisy librarians' picket outside the SLV building was joined by construction workers who have been renovating the building.
Vast amounts of public money have been spent on a lavish redevelopment of the glass-domed reading room, but basic library services have been cut. Newspaper and magazine subscriptions have been canceled, and reductions to the various departments have caused irreplaceable collections to gather mould.
The strike coincided with the launch of fashion week in one of the public halls of the library. Premier Steve Bracks, there to attend the launch, was bombarded with demands of more pay for the workers. His response: "Yup, yup, I'll look into that. Yup, thank you, yup."
The one-day strike was followed by work bans, including on such basic services as book retrieval.
From Green Left Weekly, February 12, 2003.
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