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Impending industrial action over winter gritting

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ALL three unions GMB, UNISON and Unite met with the Director Of Environmental Services, Carmarthenshire County Council on Monday (Dec 9). 
Unfortunately the council refused to significantly increase the retainer payment on offer.

For an increase of £15pm in the retainer payment the council wanted us to call off the industrial action planned for December 18-20 and to agree to conciliation talks with ACAS.
The reason stated for being unable to offer more money was that Environmental Services had to make efficiencies (cuts) and therefore didn’t have any more to offer, Unison said in a statement.

In a statement Unison Wales said: “We think the council should get its priorities right they found the money to pay an  exorbitant salary to the ex-CEO for many years; they have wasted £100,000’s in the past on inefficient standby payments and may have wasted millions in the past  by not having proper procurement procedures in place but they are not prepared to find a fraction of this to pay employees to do a hard and dangerous job keeping our roads safe.
“To add insult to injury the council are preparing to use private contractors to try in effect break the industrial action by using them to grit the roads instead. But this will cost the local authority  far more  to use contractors than what our members are asking to be paid. Why can’t they find the money to pay our members a decent retainer when they can find a lot more to pay contractors. The unions will be contacting and lobbying the private contractors or any other local authority that undertakes gritting in Carmarthenshire. All three unions will be taking industrial action on the 18th/19th and 20th December and there will be picket lines outside Llandovery, Glanamman, Cillefwr and Unit 10,Trostre depots on those days. While we have agreed to attend talks with ACAS and the employer but we do not think these will be successful unless the employer offers to increase the retainer payments substantially. Unless this happens far more substantial industrial action is on the cards after Christmas.”

But Carmarthenshire Council said that gritting will place as normal despite strike

Carmarthenshire County Council has said it is disappointed about the continued dispute, but wants to reassure road users that they will be unaffected by the planned action.

Director of Environment, Ruth Mullen, said: “We are disappointed that we remain in dispute, despite having made a further increased offer that is fair and proportionate with other Welsh local authorities.
“This offer, rejected by the unions, is a payment to be on a weekly rota and is over and above what is already on the table. This is payable regardless of whether staff are called to work overtime or not, and on top of their hourly rate – which is paid at the top of their grade – if they are required to work out of hours.
“Our conversations with the trade unions continue, with conciliation being put in place to ensure these conversations come to a satisfactory conclusion as quickly as possible.”
She added: “Despite the industrial action, we have put contingency measures in place to ensure gritting operations will take place as normal to ensure the safety of road users.
“Whilst we do not wish to be in this position, we are keen to ensure that no resources are wasted and therefore the planning for this industrial action will be used to strengthen our contingency planning going forward.”

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Community

Start your career with the RNLI

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THE RNLI is in search of new recruits to spend a season working on some of west Wales’ most popular beaches, as applications open for 2020 beach lifeguards. RNLI lifeguards operate on 40 beaches in Wales in the counties of Bridgend, Swansea, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Denbighshire.

In west Wales, the RNLI is particularly keen to recruit lifeguards to work the beaches of Aberystwyth north/south and Borth.

In addition to this lifeguards will be required to provide a seasonal service at Pembrey, Pendine Sands, Amroth, Saundersfoot, Tenby North/Castle/South,  Freshwater West, Broad Haven, Nolton Haven, Newgale South/Central/North, Whitesands, Newport Sands, Poppit Sands, Aberporth, Tresaith, Llangrannog, New Quay Harbour and Clarach.
Successful applications will be to be available to attend training between 29 June – 10 July 2020.

At the forefront of the RNLI’s lifesaving work, the charity’s lifeguards responded to almost 20,000 incidents and helped more than 32,000 people in 2018. Successful applicants receive world-class training in search and rescue, lifesaving and casualty care techniques, good rates of pay and the chance to develop valuable skills for a future career.

In order to apply, there is a requirement to hold a National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ) or equivalent. A health assessment (including an eyesight test) to ensure you are physically up to the job will be required. All lifeguards must be able to complete:

A 400m pool swim in under 7½ minutes, the first 200m of which must be completed in under 3½ minutes.
A 25m pool swim underwater and a 25m surface swim consecutively in under 50 seconds.
A 200m beach run in under 40 seconds.

Lee Fisher, Lifeguard Services Manager says: ‘Working as a lifeguard is a unique and rewarding experience – you get to call the beach your office for a start! But far more importantly than that, you are there to make sure the public stay safe while enjoying their visit, and ultimately to help save lives at sea.

‘This is a demanding job requiring commitment, skill and a clear head, but it’s also a job that is truly life changing. We’re looking for people with courage, determination and the ability to put their training into action and make the right decision if someone’s life is in danger. It is an incredibly rewarding role.’

And it’s not just on the beach where lifeguarding skills can be put into practice. The training provided by the charity can be an ideal first step towards many career paths, including continuing to work for the RNLI or for a career in the emergency services.

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Community

Historic estates conference

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On Saturday 22 February the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society, the county’s
history society, will be holding a conference on the historic landed estates of south-
west Wales entitled “The Landed Estate in South-West Wales – A Force for Good?”.

It will be an opportunity to learn about the latest research into this important aspect of
the area’s history from specialist speakers.

Non-members of the Society will be very welcome at the event which is being held at
the Halliwell Centre at the Trinity St David’s University campus in Carmarthen.

Further details and a booking form for sending in by 10 February are available on the
Society’s website www.carmants.org.uk.

The Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society has a wide-ranging programme of talks and
visits to historic sites throughout the year.

Members receive full details together with The Carmarthenshire Antiquary,
the Society’s annual publication which is a long- respected source of information
about Carmarthenshire’s history and archaeology.

More information about the Society and how to become a member is given on the
website.

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Four out of five tenants satisfied with council’s housing service

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FOUR out of five tenants (82%) are satisfied with the overall service provided by the council’s housing department, with 44% very satisfied, according to a recent survey.

The STAR tenant satisfaction survey also showed that 79% of tenants were satisfied with the quality of their home, including 38% that were very satisfied.

Rent value for money had a satisfaction score of 77%; and three quarters of respondents (75%) were satisfied with the repairs and maintenance service overall.

The survey, using HouseMark’s STAR model which is the standardised methodology for tenant and resident surveys, was carried out during June and July. Questionnaires were sent to 5000 tenants selected at random by mail, email, online and text.

A total of 2087 tenants completed the survey giving a response rate of 29%.

Further results show:

85% of tenants were satisfied with their neighbourhood as a place to live
66% (two-thirds) were satisfied with the grounds maintenance service
58% (three out of five) of respondents were satisfied with the way in which the council deals with anti-social behaviour
64% felt the council listened and took their views into account
79% satisfied with the last completed repair

The overall satisfaction score of 82% also compares favourably with a 78% average score for other Welsh councils.

However, the results of the survey did show that satisfaction in services overall was lower among 35 to 54-year-olds and there were clusters of below average satisfaction in urban wards in Llanelli and Carmarthen.

Executive Board Member for Housing Cllr Linda Evans said: “I would like to thank everyone that responded to the survey. It is pleasing to see that generally satisfaction levels are high, but that does not mean there is room for complacency and improvements can always be made.

“We are now working with colleagues from other departments like repairs and grounds maintenance to look at ways of improving the services tenants receive.

“It is also very important to us when planning for the future, and we will continue to need your help to work with us in developing services in the way you want.”

The next step is to hold a series of workshops throughout the county where tenants will be able to go along and speak to one of the partnership and engagement team. Keep an eye out on the council’s website and Facebook and Twitter accounts for further information on when and where the workshops will be held. Remember you can also speak to an officer during a home visit or on the phone as well if you are unable to attend any of the events.

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