April 23, 2021

Newyddion Cymru Ar-Lein : Wales News Online

Newyddion Lleol a Chenedlaethol Cymru – Local and National News for Wales

Unions claim victory for winter gritters

MEMBERS of the unions, Unison, GMB and Unite have claimed victory in their industrial dispute with Carmarthenshire County Council. In a statement issued today, Tuesday (Feb 18) a spokesperson said:

“Following two days of industrial action before Christmas Carmarthenshire County Council (CCC) capitulated and conceded to most of the Unison, GMB and Unite members’ demands. Plaid councillors and CCC management in Environmental Services blundered into this confrontation of their own making. They miscalculated the mood in the four depots where members are based when they unilaterally ended the talks (consultation) and attempted to impose a ‘final offer’ on our members. The evidence for this was when we (Unison) balloted members in response to the council trying to impose a ‘final offer’ and in the ballot 84.2% of our members voted and 100% voted in favour of strike action. The other unions also had high votes for taking industrial action.

“In all management made around six ‘final offers’ but it was the coordinated industrial action by our members and members of all the above unions, the well- attended picket lines, the well organised publicity campaign in the media and social media explaining why we were taking action and the cooperation of the three unions that won the day not as claimed by the council agreement was the result of period of negotiation. After refusing to go to ACAS when management made their final offer and ended the talks the action taken by the unions forced the employer to talks in ACAS and concede to what we were asking for.

“This dispute was in reality the result of cuts, drivers were not replaced when they left and this left the local authority in the predicament of not having enough drivers to do winter gritting, which is a statutory service. In order to deal with this situation (of their own making) the employer attempted to make it contractual to do winter gritting. This was opposed by all three unions. It just goes to show the consequences of trying to maintain a service on the cheap (while making cuts) something we have regularly warned the council about.

“When the council could see the strength of feeling of our members evidenced by the good turnouts on the picket lines they could see the writing on the wall- this along with the absorbent cost of using private contractors and Cwm etc. to carry out winter gritting forced them back to negotiations and conceding to most of what our members wanted.

“Our members along with the other unions have voted to accept the council’s new offer and the unions have signed the collective agreement to that affect. We think the agreement that has been reached as a result of the above is a victory for our members. While no one takes the decision to take industrial action lightly, we think one of the important lessons about this dispute is that when faced with an intransigent employer making cuts and or imposing ‘final offers’ industrial action is ultimately the only way to stop this happening.”

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