02/25/2024

Wales News Online

Local & National News for Wales

No luck for Carmarthenshire theatres as attempt to employ agency staff defeated by Plaid and Independent Councillors

AN attempt to directly employ twenty-two agency staff working in Carmarthenshire theatres who lost their job with just one week of pay has been defeated by Plaid and Independent Councillors.

Last month, half of the theatre staff working in Carmarthenshire Council theatres were left without pay after Carmarthenshire Council cut the contingent workers scheme in a row over furloughing with an employment agency.

Around twenty-two staff members, some who had worked within the theatres for up to sixteen years, were being employed via an employment agency to cover long-term staffing issues.

A motion tabled by Carmarthenshire Labour Leader, Cllr Rob James, sought to directly employ the staff members, effectively bringing the service in-house.

The motion also sought complete a full review into the use of agency staff within Carmarthenshire Council with claims that the practice was costing millions to the taxpayers of Carmarthenshire.

Cllr Rob James, speaking in the debate stated “As a County Council, we have a moral obligation to agency workers commissioned to provide council services and we should be leading the way in the County demonstrating best practice to support the workforce and offer value for money.

“It is extremely disappointing that a restructure that would have seen these theatre posts brought in-house has been on-going for two years and had not been completed at the time of lockdown. That is a dereliction of duty by the Executive Board Member.
“We need to consider best practice in this area and learn from other authorities. Southampton City Council have an in-house temporary employment agency, in essence a register of workers who are available to provide cover for short term and temporary assignments within council services.
“Where there are longer-term staff needs, employees should be directly employed by the Authority on permanent contracts.
“We are fighting to ensure that taxpayers funds are not being wasted by employing via agency companies at high costs and that local works are supported by this Council and paid fairly.
“Through this pandemic we have praised our Council employees its time we followed up the warm words with direct action.”

Peter Hill, GMB Regional Organiser stated: “It’s hugely disappointing to our members that the Plaid/Independent leadership decided to vote against this motion. Over 20 staff have been left without pay for several weeks now due to this situation. The motion brought by Cllr James and backed by the labour group could have resolved the situation and provided the support our members desperately need”

“The Local Authority have been over-using agencies like Randstad for years, at a huge cost to the taxpayer. While the direct responsibility is with Randstad, it was the Council’s decision to cut payments to staff despite the Welsh Government allowing local authorities to reclaim these expenses. The Council has a moral duty to these workers which it is shirking. GMB will continue to campaign on this issue, and its not the last councillors who voted against this motion will hear on it.”

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