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Tata Steel pension plan backed by workers

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TATA steelworkers have overwhelmingly voted to accept a new deal on their pensions.

The deal included £1bn of investment for Port Talbot with no compulsory job losses. Members of three unions voted on the proposal.

Assembly Member Bethan Jenkins, Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson on Steel and the elected member for the South Wales West region in which the Port Talbot plant is located, said: “There is no doubt the package of proposals with which workers was presented was stark, and seen as a choice between their job or their pension.  With today’s result, the workforce has made its sacrifice for future workers.  Now is the time for the Welsh and UK Governments to step up and demonstrate their commitment to steelworkers and the industry.

“Such a demonstration should include action on energy costs, and investment in a local power plant and a Steel Research and Development Centre.

“The industry also needs a cast-iron guarantee on public procurement whereby local steel is prioritised in infrastructure developments.”

Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Adam Price, added: “The Tory UK Government must now urgently amend the “low priority” grading it has given an industry worth £3billion annually to the Welsh economy.  An extreme hard Brexit or World Trade Organisation rules would not be good for the Welsh steel industry, and Plaid Cymru will be insisting the industry is protected from cheap and unfair competition.

“The last-minute concessions negotiated by the unions was no mean feat given that many argued Tata was in no mood to compromise further when some of us called for changes to the plan announced before Christmas.  Those changes came, Tata improved its offer, and the Unions ultimately supported the package.  This undoubtedly assisted workers to reach a decision.

“Having recently met with the local management, it is evident they have a clear vision and plan of action for a sustainable steel sector in Wales and the UK.  Plaid Cymru will support them and the workforce in every way we can as they set about growing this hugely important industry.”

Responding to the results, Dave Hulse, National Officer for GMB, said:  “Now that steelworkers have done their bit, it is time for the government step up and do theirs.

“Thousands of skilled jobs rely on steelmaking and the industry supports the whole UK manufacturing sector.

“Instead of insulting steelworkers by classing their industry as a ‘low priority’, the government set out as strategy for steel that recognises it as a high priority for investment and innovation.”

Tony Brady, National Officer for Unite, said:  “This is not a decision our members have taken lightly.

“It has been a hellish time for them, their families and their communities as uncertainty has swirled around the steel industry over this past year or more.

“During that time steelworkers have made great sacrifices to ensure the UK’s world class steel industry has a future.

“Those sacrifices must be repaid by Tata Steel honouring its commitments on investment and job security.

“Nothing less would be a betrayal and add to the deep mistrust that steelworkers now have for the company.

“The UK government in Westminster must also repay the sacrifices and the commitment shown by steelworkers to their industry by stepping up to support steel and secure its future.

“Recent talk of steel being a low priority for UK government ministers in Brexit negotiations is shameful.

“The UK government must now work in lockstep with the Welsh Government and put steel at the heart of a manufacturing industrial strategy which ensures UK steel is used in all major infrastructure and defence projects.”

Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, said:  “This result provides a mandate from our members to move forward in our discussions with Tata and find a sustainable solution for the British Steel Pension Scheme.

“Steelworkers have taken a tough decision and have shown they are determined to safeguard jobs and secure the long-term future of steelmaking.

“Nobody wanted to be in this situation, but as we have always said, it is vital that we now work together to protect the benefits already accrued and prevent the BSPS from free-falling into the PPF.

“This ballot involved an extremely personal decision for everyone that voted. Whichever way our members cast their votes, we know they will not have taken that decision lightly and everyone’s opinions must be respected.

“We now expect Tata to make good on their promises and deliver the investment plan for the whole of their steel business.

“The UK Government still has an important role to play and we fully expect them to deliver tangible support for steelmaking in the UK.”

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Four further coronavirus cases confirmed in Hywel Dda area

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THE LATEST figures from Public Health Wales (PHW) reveal four new cases of coronavirus have been reported in the Hywel Dda Health Board Area.

As of today, June 2, Carmarthenshire identified three new cases, Pembrokeshire has one new case and none in Ceredigion, meaning the new totals stand at 732, 279 and 42.

Wales now has a total of 14,121, with 67 new cases and seven additional deaths recorded, bringing the death total to 1,354.

With Hywel Dda reporting 61 deaths to date.

Dr Giri Shankar, incident director for the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales, said: “Contact tracing continues in Wales as part of the Welsh Government’s ‘Test, Trace, Protect’ strategy. Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who have come in contact with an individual with Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) in order to prevent the risk of others spreading the infection in our communities.

“Anyone who has a positive Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) test will be contacted by a team of contact tracers, and asked for details of everyone they have had close contact with while they have had symptoms.

“Please keep a note of your activities so you can easily remember your whereabouts on a given day, along with who were in contact with. You do not need to have any concerns about providing names to the tracing team. This is for everyone’s benefit and we are grateful for your continued cooperation.

“If you are asked to self-isolate, you should also comply with this request to prevent further spread of the virus.

“Tracers are trained staff and personal information that you provide will handled in line with data protection regulations and will not be shared widely.

“Over the last few weeks, Public Health Wales has been setting up the methods and guidance for how contact tracing will operate. We will continue to work closely to support local health boards and local authorities in delivering contact tracing.

“Welsh Government’s revised lockdown arrangements also continue. People from two different households in the same local area can meet up outdoors, provided they continue to maintain social distancing and strict hand hygiene.

“The announcement adds that, as a general rule, people should not travel more than five miles from home. This will help to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading as people begin to travel more.

“Revised lockdown arrangements also apply to people in Wales who have been told to ‘shield’ from the virus. They are able to go outside and meet people from another household, provided they keep a two-metre distance.

“Future relaxation of lockdown measures will also be dependent on everyone following advice set out in the ‘Test, Trace, Protect’ strategy, including self-isolating when required.

“Information about the symptoms of Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) to look out for is available on the Public Health Wales website, or members of the public can use the NHS Wales symptom checker.

“Anyone experiencing Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms can now apply for a home testing kit using the new UK online portal. For further information and a link to the booking website, visit: www.gov.wales/coronavirus or www.llyw.cymru/coronafeirws. This will be supported by a national 119 phone service, through which people can also order a home test.

“We are encouraging everyone to download the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Symptom Study app, which has been supported by Welsh Government. The app allows users to log daily symptoms to help build a clearer picture of how the virus is affecting people. For more information, including how to download the app, visit covid.joinzoe.com.

“As part of wider support measures for families, Public Health Wales is offering all parents, parents-to-be, grandparents and care-givers free access to a series of online courses designed to help them understand the development and emotional milestones of their children, covering everything from pre-birth to late teens.

“To get access users just need to visit www.inourplace.co.uk and use the code ‘NWSOL’ if you live in North Wales, and ‘SWSOL’ if you live in Mid, West or South Wales.

“Public Health Wales is also continuing working to address the negative impact of Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) on the social, mental and physical wellbeing of people in Wales. Our latest campaign, ‘How are you doing?’ is now live and offering practical advice from phw.nhs.wales/howareyoudoing.

“Anyone with a suspected coronavirus illness should not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. They should only contact NHS 111 if they feel they cannot cope with their symptoms at home, their condition gets worse, or their symptoms do not get better after seven days.

“Only call 999 if you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, do not call 999 just because you are on hold to 111. We appreciate that 111 lines are busy, but you will get through after a wait.

“We also want to reinforce the message from NHS Wales that urgent and emergency care services for physical and mental health are still open and accessible.

“For parents, if your child is unwell and you are concerned you should seek help. If you have urgent dental pain you should still call your dentist. If you have a health complaint that is worrying you and won’t go away you should call your GP practice. If you or a family member are seriously ill or injured you should dial 999 or attend your nearest Emergency Department.”

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Further childcare hub opening in Llanelli

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AN additional childcare hub has opened in Llanelli this week (w/c Monday, May 25) due to increasing demand to provide care for children of critical workers and vulnerable children.

It will be located at Ysgol Ffwrnes in Llanelli and follows the opening of an extra three hubs at Bryn Primary School in Llanelli, Model Primary School in Carmarthen and Ysgol Tycroes.

It is important that numbers are kept low at the hubs to ensure the health and safety of both the children and staff.

Parents are being reminded to keep their children at home where possible to help contain the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19). However, if you are a critical worker, and your child cannot stay at home, then your childcare will be prioritised.

Parents should only apply for childcare to cover their working hours; and are also being reminded to please cancel as soon as possible if they no longer need the provision.

Please note the timetable for applications to the childcare hubs has also changed, and that applications now close at 5pm on the Wednesday of the week before.

Unfortunately, we will no longer be able to consider any applications made after deadline. Due to the significant increase in demand for places at our hubs we must make sure they are staffed sufficiently. The health and safety of both staff and pupils is vital and has to be our main priority.

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How Wales created 19 new field hospitals in less than 8 weeks…

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Across Wales the Welsh Government is supporting the NHS to create new field hospitals and rapidly increase bed capacity.
Health boards have repurposed existing buildings, including the Principality Stadium, a holiday park and even a television studio to provide an additional 6,000 beds.Field hospitals are designed to support the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic by providing extra bed capacity but they will also help normal hospital services be restarted and support social care services.Last month, the first patients were admitted to Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig at the Principality Stadium, in Cardiff.

Four to six weeks

Here is how Wales almost doubled its bed capacity in less than eight weeks…The time it has taken to nearly double hospital bed capacity in Wales, creating field hospitals across the nation.

19 field hospitals in Wales
This includes the repurposing of Bluestone Holiday Park and Parc y Scarlets in west Wales and Venue Cymru in north Wales.

1,500 beds at the Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig
Making it one of the largest field hospitals in the UK.

Five days
The length of time it took to plan Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig, which overlapped with the build phase.

3,000
The number of planning hours, involving more than 20 different disciplines, it took to plan Ysbyty Calon y Ddraig.

£166m
Welsh Government funding for the set up, construction and equipment for field hospitals in Wales.

138,000
The number of pieces of equipment have been provided to help support field hospitals, including beds, imaging equipment, syringe drivers and medicines.

Three North Wales field hospitals have the name Enfys
Meaning rainbow – the symbol of hope and thank you to the NHS during the pandemic.
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