Employees at Dudley libraries should earn at least the real living wage of £9.50 per hour to safeguard against deteriorating pay levels, says UNISON. The union’s Dudley General Branch says current pay levels are not sufficient to meet the everyday needs of staff and is calling on the company running the town’s libraries to raise its rates.

Library employees were transferred from Dudley Council to Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) in 2017 on a five-year contract. GLL is described as "a charitable social enterprise for all the community". But in Dudley, as well as in other locations where it runs libraries, UNISON says GLL is not rewarding staff in the spirit of its own ideals.

Since the library service was outsourced, pay has not kept up with rates at Dudley Council. UNISON says rates for library assistants are 12% below what they would have been had the service stayed within the council, and have dropped below any other recognised council salary scale.

Branch secretary at UNISON Dudley General Branch Theresa Kelly said: “GLL makes a mockery of the term ‘social enterprise’.

“It’s flawed business model is based on zero-hours contracts and job cuts. The public services it pledged to maintain, such as leisure centres and libraries, are being eroded.

“It is nothing short of scandalous that an organisation which touts its progressive credentials offers wage levels so low that staff would struggle to make ends meet."

Branch chair Billy Gibson said: “Libraries are at the heart of communities.Many people in Dudley will be shocked that the people providing important public services are enduring poverty wages. This has to end.”

In the coming weeks UNISON will be encouraging Dudley residents, library users, and Dudley councillors to show their support for its call for GLL to raise pay to at least £9.50 an hour for all employees.