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Undervalued Carmarthenshire gritters to walk out
Mark Evans, Carmarthenshire County Unison branch secretary
Carmarthenshire council workers responsible for the winter gritting of roads will be striking for three days - 18, 19, 20 December - after the Plaid Cymru-led local authority refused workers a £15 increase in their monthly retainer payment.
Members of three trade unions are taking action - GMB, Unison and Unite - angry that the hard and dangerous work they do to keep the highways and byways safe for the public is undervalued by the council.
The council is pleading 'poverty', yet it found the money to pay an exorbitant salary to the former chief executive for many years.
Moreover, it has wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds in the past on inefficient standby payments and may have wasted millions in the past by not having proper procurement procedures in place.
To add insult to injury the council is preparing to use private contractors to try, in effect, to break the industrial action by using them to grit the roads instead.
This is despite the fact it will cost the local authority far more to use contractors than what the council workers are asking to be paid.
The unions have made clear they will be contacting and lobbying the private contractors or any other local authority that undertakes gritting in Carmarthenshire.
Meanwhile, there will be picket lines outside Llandovery, Glanamman, Cillefwr and Unit 10 Trostre depots on those days.
While the unions have agreed to attend talks with arbitrators ACAS and the employer, we do not think these will be successful unless the employer offers to increase the retainer payments substantially.
If that transpires, far more substantial industrial action is on the cards after Christmas.