THREE nights of industrial action and nine picket lines later Plaid led Carmarthenshire County Council were forced to ask for talks and during those talks held earlier this week conceded to the main demands of UNISON, GMB, and Unite members. The harsh reality for the council was that they could not maintain a winter gritting service let alone a safe one without our members.
The council has now agreed to pay Winter Gritters £25 per shift (an increase of £8.00) if they are retained for winter gritting on a weekday.
On the weekend when a shift is longer the employer will pay £40 per shift. On top of this workers will get the agreed overtime rate. It will not be lost on those involved that three nights of action achieved far more than two years of negotiations.
We will now sit down with senior management to get the above clearly put in an agreement. Of course, if this Plaid council had adhered to the agreement in the first place, then we would not have been forced to take the action that we did. What has been agreed will of course have to be taken back to members for them to vote on and we will be a close eye on the council that they do not start backtracking.
We have forced the council to back down because all three unions have worked together and have taken action together. We gave our members a partnership they want and need, a partnership of the unions taken coordinated action together to get an intransigent employer to back down.
This dispute sends a clear message to the Plaid leadership of the council that they cannot continue to bury their heads in the sand hoping the unions and our members will go away and meekly accept how they are being treated.
We asked for the cabinet member for Environmental Services Councillor (Cllr) Hazel Evans to attend the above talks rather than just making comments in the press supporting the council’s stance.
Cllr Evans declined to meet with the unions directly apparently because it was an operational matter but that didn’t prevent Cllr Evans from supporting the council’s stance in the press. Rather than echoing what she is told by management in the press, we would suggest Cllr Evans and her Cabinet colleagues meet with the unions directly if they want to avoid further conflict rather than hearing what we have to say through the filter of senior management.
While it was the action of members that forced the council to concede to our main demands in the main – was also the good turnout on the picket lines was also a crucial factor.
We would like to thank other members, Swansea Trades Council (to whom our branch is affiliated), Rob James Labour opposition group leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, and Socialist students and Socialist party members for showing solidarity and support by attending our picket lines. Also, a key factor in keeping morale high was the support we received from UNISON and other union branches in Wales and the rest of the UK who sent us messages of solidarity and support.
When we have the above in the agreement, we will take what is on offer to our members for them to vote to accept or reject the council’s offer.
Driver jailed for head-on crash that caused life-changing injuries
A DRIVER who caused a head-on collision with a car being driven by a pregnant woman told police officers at the scene he had drunk 13 cans of strong lager the night before.
Rhodri Rees, aged 36, of Llandysul, admitted his drinking had gone into the early hours before he got behind the wheel and caused the crash on the A476 in Llannon, near Llanelli, by overtaking another car on a bend at around 7.40am on December 11, 2020.
The severe impact meant both drivers were trapped in their cars and had to be cut free by firefighters.
Thankfully the baby was unharmed in the collision, however, its mother suffered serious, life-changing injuries. She had a number of operations to repair the damage and was unable to walk for a year and still suffers the effects of the accident today.
Dyfed-Powys Police Sgt Nicholas Brookes said “When Rees was spoken to by our officers at the scene he told them he had drunk 13 cans of Stella Artois and that he had gone to bed after midnight.
“He failed a breath test at the scene and was arrested on suspicion of drink driving before being allowed to go to hospital for treatment.”
The following day he was interviewed at Carmarthen Police Station where he told officers he had consumed eight or nine cans of Foster’s before going to bed around 2am, before getting up at around 6.45am and setting off.
A sample of blood was taken just before 1pm on December 11 showed Rees had 39mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood – the legal limit being 80. A blood alcohol expert had calculated that at the time of the collision the level of alcohol would have been no less than 113mg and more likely 129mg.
PS Brookes added: “This was a serious case that could have been so much worse.
“Rees admitted drinking a considerable amount of alcohol and getting little sleep before getting behind the wheel. He was lucky no-one was killed.
“I would like to commend the officer in the case, PC Benjamin Stevenson, who conducted a thorough and meticulous investigation for the offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.”
On Tuesday, 17th May, Rees appeared before Swansea Crown Court, having pleaded guilty at a previous hearing, and was sentenced to 18-months in prison.
He was also disqualified from driving for three years and 9 months, with a requirement for an extended test to regain his licence.
No monkeypox cases identified in Wales say public health officials
THE UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has detected 11 additional cases of monkeypox in England.
The latest cases bring the total number of monkeypox cases confirmed since May 6 to 20.
The new cases come on top of the nine already identified in the country.
There are currently no cases of monkeypox identified in Wales, public health in Wales have said.
Public Health Wales said it is working with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), Public Health Scotland, and Northern Ireland HSC Health Protection Agency to respond to UK cases of monkeypox.
Richard Firth, Consultant in Health Protection for Public Health Wales, said: “We are working closely with our UK partners to monitor and respond to cases of monkeypox in the UK. Monkeypox is a rare disease that has been reported mainly in central and West African countries. No cases have so far been identified in Wales.”
“Monkeypox does not spread easily between people and the overall risk to the general public is very low. It is usually a mild self-limiting illness, and most people recover within a few weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some individuals.”
The first case in the current outbreak was confirmed on May 6.
It is not the first time monkeypox has been reported in the UK.
Three cases were also reported in 2021, two of them in Wales.
New city of Wrexham gets big thumbs up from business leaders
BUSINESS leaders have given a big thumbs up to news that Wrexham has been granted city status following a competition to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Wrexham Business Professionals have campaigned for more than a decade to help secure city status and say they are “cock-a-hoop” that the bid was successful, having previously failed last time around in 2012.
According to the group, made up of successful businesses and highly skilled professionals working together to promote regional prosperity and the enterprise and expertise in the region, becoming a city is a “fantastic once-in-a-generation” opportunity.
Wrexham joins seven other winners from across Britain and the overseas territories – including Bangor in Northern Ireland, Stanley in the Falklands, and Colchester in England.
The competition for city status has taken place in each of the last three jubilee years, with previous winners including Newport, which became a city in 2002.
Ian Edwards, a senior member of Wrexham Business Professionals and a director of Allington Hughes, said: “We have supported the idea of Wrexham becoming a city for many years. As far as we are concerned, this is a no-brainer and is one of the best things to have happened to Wrexham for a long time
“Even before the pandemic and the consequences of the pandemic we’ve always thought that being a city would give Wrexham a lot of kudos and would provide a massive economic benefit for the whole of North Wales.
“During the pandemic some business in Wrexham have done well but others – notably in leisure, tourism and hospitality – have really suffered and we really have to get back on our feet economically.
“It’s not just about putting Wrexham on the map – being a city will provide an effective lever in attracting inward investment and new jobs which will help the whole area thrive and prosper.
“The benefits of city status transform the fortunes of the town and provide a better future for the people who live here.
“It feels like the stars have now aligned perfectly and that the time is now right to do our best to seize this opportunity.
“The fact that Wrexham AFC has been bought by Hollywood A-listers Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney helped add bit of magic and stardust to the bid.
“A lot of people across the world hadn’t heard of Wrexham before and now other Hollywood stars are embracing the story and putting on the club’s shirt.
“We’ve never had such a high profile – not just nationally but internationally.
“You really couldn’t script it better. There’s never going to be a better time to become Wales’s seventh city.”
It was a sentiment echoed by the group’s chair, chartered accountant Gill Kreft, co-owner of the Pendine Park care organisation.
She said: “City status will give Wrexham a huge fillip and provide the recognition it deserves as the commercial capital of North Wales.
“City status will undoubtedly help attract more inward investment and funding into the town and the surrounding area.
“It will also give us an enhanced reputation and status as well and raise awareness of what a great place this is and what a lot it has to offer. Wrexham has a lot going for it.
“It will be a massive boost for us and for North Wales and give the town more confidence about itself.
“Hopefully, we can now go for a hat-trick with Wrexham AFC finally winning promotion and being crowned as City of Culture 2025. Fingers crossed!”
Gill Kreft, chair of Wrexham Business Professionals
Ian Edwards., leading member of Wrexham Business Professionals
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