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Unions call overtime ban for Council staff in run-up to Christmas

WINTER road gritters in Carmarthenshire won’t work in the evenings for three days before Christmas unless a dispute with the county council is resolved.

Members of the GMB, Unison and Unite unions voted last week to take strike action and also action short of a strike.

The unions have now called an overtime ban for December 18, 19 and 20, meaning members will carry out their normal daytime highways duties but will not be available for gritting work after that.

And Mark Evans (pictured left), Unison’s Carmarthenshire branch secretary, said “more substantial action” would take place after Christmas unless there was a better pay offer from the council.

“This could get very nasty, or it could get sorted out very quickly,” said Mr Evans.

A meeting is due to take place between the unions and the council on December 4.

Speaking last Friday after the ballots had been held, Stephen Pilliner, the council’s head of highways and transport, said: “We are continuing to meet with the trades unions, with a further meeting due to take place in the middle of next week.”

The vast majority of Carmartheshire Council’s road gritters are union members. Just over 50 of them are with the GMB.

Unite has the smallest membership and was the last to hold a ballot last week.

The unions claim their members have some of the worst road gritting terms and conditions in Wales.

They get overtime pay, but unions want a better weekly retainer offer from the council.

Another gripe, say unions, is that no-fault accidents while out gritting could affect gritters’ private motor insurance because of the way insurance companies shared information.

Carmarthenshire’s road network stretches more than 2,000 miles – one of the largest in Wales.

Speaking last week, Peter Hill, GMB regional organiser, warned of “travel chaos” if matters weren’t resolved.

“Our members are angry and have given a clear signal that they are unhappy with the current arrangements,” he said.

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