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AM calls 220 job losses ‘very troubling’

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LEE WATERS AM has called the announcement of 220 job losses from Schaeffler this week ‘very troubling’.

Schaeffler, which produces industrial and automotive parts globally, is closing its Llanelli base at Yspitty Road in Bynea, as well as a plant in Plymoth, over the next two years.

The closure of the two locations will result in over 500 job losses. The company will continue to operate at its base in Sheffield.

Citing Brexit as a major concern, the company said it would relocate its production to other plants in the US, South Korea, China and Germany.

Lee Waters said: “The announcement by Schaeffler this week is very troubling. Llanelli can’t afford to lose 220 high quality skilled jobs. I’m in touch with the company, the unions and the Welsh Government to see what can be done to try and save the factory.

“The Bynea plant has always had to flight for work within the company, and previous management had succeeded in making the old Ena Bearings plant a centre for innovation. It appears that demand for the parts is makes, and the performance of the plant has slipped.

“It’s hard to compete in a global economy.  This international company is easily able to shift production to factories with lower wage bills across the world. Schaeffler mentioned “uncertainty surrounding Brexit” as one factor behind the decision to leave Wales. Clearly this is isn’t the only factor, but we’ve been warning that the failure of the UK Government, more than two years after Brexit, to set out our future trading arrangements would harm businesses.

“Schaeffler exports 85% of the car parts it makes in Llanelli. When the company bosses look at where to put future investment it isn’t surprising that the prospect of barriers to exporting, and higher costs would be a factor in the decision-making..

“If we want to avoid other multinational manufacturing firms following suit it is essential that our future access to the single market is secured soon.

“This week’s awful news confirms a point I’ve been making since I was elected – we are too vulnerable to decisions made in distant boardrooms. Our economy is far too dependent on the whims of large multinationals whose shareholders and senior management have no ties to, or knowledge of Llanelli.

“Schaeffler, or it’s predecessor companies have a long history in Llanelli – but like so many others, what had been locally, often family owned firms have been sold to larger firms. These sales remove the local link, and remove the loyalty to workers and location that we so often see in successful medium sized firms.

“I’ve been pressing the Welsh Government to look at ways in which it can make sure that successful manufacturing firms remain in Welsh ownership as they grow, retaining a local link and ownership. I’m pleased that the Development Bank of Wales is looking at what they can do to support such an ambition – and the candidate I’m backing for next leader of Welsh Labour, Mark Drakeford is also on board.

“In the short term, Nia Griffith and I will work together to ensure that the UK and Welsh Government act in partnership to find a solution that works for the employees at Schaeffler and secures jobs for the long term. Where Nia is putting pressure on the UK Government to act, I’m working with the Welsh Government to ensure support is in place.

“In the worst case scenario, I’ll be working with the First Minister, and Economy Secretary Ken Skates AM to ensure that there is a comprehensive package of support available to anyone affected by job losses at the plant. But I hope the company engages sincerely in the consultation process and works with us to try and find a way to find a future for the plant.”

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Outdoor hospitality given go-ahead and rules on mixing outdoors relaxed in Wales

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SIX people will be able to meet outdoors in Wales from Saturday 24 April while outdoor hospitality will be allowed to reopen from Monday 26 April as cases of new COVID-19 infections continue to fall, First Minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed today.

The current rule provides for up to six people (not including children under 11 years of age or carers) from a maximum of two households to meet outdoors.

The new rules from Saturday will allow six people (not including children under 11 years of age or carers) to meet outdoors.

People should observe social distancing from people from outside their household or support bubble when meeting others outside.

The rules for meeting indoors remain unchanged.

The First Minister has also confirmed outdoor hospitality will be allowed to reopen from Monday 26th April 2021.

First Minister, Mark Drakeford said: “The public health context in Wales remains favourable, with cases falling and our vaccination programme continues to go from strength to strength. Because meeting outdoors continues to be lower risk than meeting indoors, we are able to bring forward changes to allow any six people to meet outdoors.

“This will provide more opportunities for people, especially young people, to meet outdoors with their friends. This will undoubtedly have a significant positive impact on people’s wellbeing.

“I’m also pleased to confirm outdoor hospitality will be allowed to reopen from Monday 26th April.

“These changes will help the hospitality sector recover after a difficult twelve months.

“It is thanks to the continuing efforts of people across Wales we are able to introduce this change. Together, we will continue to keep Wales safe.”

On Friday (23rd April 2021), the First Minister will confirm further relaxations to the covid rules that will come into force on Monday 26 April 2021.

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Scientists issue urgent appeal for help on ground-breaking Covid genetic study

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SCIENTISTS involved in a ground-breaking COVID-19 genetic research study are urgently asking people across Wales who caught the virus to donate a small amount of blood to their project.

To help encourage as many people as possible to join the study, volunteers are now able to quickly and easily book an appointment for a nurse to visit their home and donate a sample.

The unique GenOMICC COVID-19 Study, which is being delivered in Wales through Health and Care Research Wales, analyses the genes of people who have had the virus to discover why some experienced mild or no symptoms while others became extremely ill. The study is already contributing to the fight again COVID, with preliminary results helping identify possible new treatments.

study open to anyone who caught COVID but didn’t need hospital treatment

However, for the study to continue to make progress, the scientists urgently need to recruit 2,500 more people from all backgrounds. Along with seeking the help of members of Asian and Black communities, they’re also keen for more men to volunteer.

The home appointment system has already proved popular when the scheme was launched in Scotland and Bradford earlier this year – and with lockdown restrictions beginning to be eased in Wales, organisers are hoping for a similar response from people across the country.

“This study has one key objective – to help us understand why COVID-19 has impacted different groups in different ways,” said Dr Matt Morgan, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at the University Hospital of Wales and Specialty Lead for Critical Care at Health and Care Research Wales.

“Across the UK, a disproportionate number of people who ended up in hospital have been male as well as people with Asian and Black heritage – that’s why we need people from these groups in particular to join the study as soon as possible.”

“If you are eligible, please register and join the project. You’ll be making a direct contribution to helping improve our knowledge of the virus and discovering new ways of beating it.”

scientists issue urgent appeal for assistance to help them identify new treatments

Dr Kenneth Baillie, the study’s Chief Investigator, said: “We’re appealing for more volunteers from all walks of life to come forward and register. We need to find people who tested positive for COVID but experienced either mild or no symptoms and didn’t require hospital treatment. To maximise the study’s potential, it’s important these volunteers are similar in age, gender and ethnicity of those people who were severely affected and hospitalised.”

Professor Sir Mark Caulfied, Chief Scientist at Genomics England added: “The quicker this research can be completed, the faster we can solve the COVID-19 puzzle and protect vulnerable people.

Genetic research into COVID-19 is now playing an increasingly important role in our fight against the virus, enabling us to identify new forms of the virus and develop treatments.

“The findings from the GenOMICC COVID-19 Study will improve the treatment, care and outcome for those most at risk and lower the number of deaths.”

Dr Nicola Williams, Director of Support and Delivery at Health and Care Research Wales, said: “It’s vital we learn as much as possible about COVID-19 and to do that we need people to volunteer to take part in research. By introducing an appointment booking system, the GenOMICC COVID-19 Study is giving people the opportunity to contribute to potentially life-saving research from their own homes. These contributions can help provide the evidence we need to give all patients the best possible outcome.”

The research project is open to anyone who tested positive to COVID-19 but experienced mild or no symptoms and didn’t require hospital treatment – volunteers can register online here.

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A Llanelli household is hospitalised following reports of an “unknown substance”

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REPORTS of an “unknown substance” at a Llanelli property led to a multi-agency operation.

Police, ambulance and the fire service descended on a property in a village, just outside of Five Roads, Llanelli,  following reports of members of the household feeling unwell and the presence of an “unknown substance”.

Three members of the household in Five Roads, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire were taken to hospital as a precaution.

Emergency services were alerted to members of the household feeling unwell and the presence of an ‘unknown substance’ on Sunday, April 11 at 7.30am.

The ambulance service were first on the scene with one rapid response vehicle, four emergency ambulances and the Hazardous Area Response Team and were supported by police and the fire service.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Ambulance Service said: “We were called to a residential property in the village of Five Roads, Llanelli at 7.30am on Sunday, April 11 to reports of three people needing medical attention.

“We responded with one rapid response vehicle, four emergency ambulances and our Hazardous Area Response Team.

“Three patients were taken to Glangwili Hospital, Carmarthen, for further treatment.”

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS) assisted the police and ambulance service, deploying a specialist officer and an Environmental Protection Unit to the property.

The service ventilated the property and remained on the scene until 5.29pm.

A MAWWFRS spokesperson said: “At 7:44am, crews from Llanelli were called to assist the ambulance service and police at an incident in a property in Five Roads, Llanelli.

“An unknown substance was found at the property and its occupants reported feeling unwell.

“The occupants were taken to hospital by the ambulance service.”

“The incident was contained to one property and there were no concerns for the wider community of Five Roads.”

A Dyfed-Powys Police Spokesperson confirmed the force assisted in the multi-operation incident.

A spokesperson said:: “Members of one household in the village were feeling unwell, and were taken to hospital for assessment.

“They were found to have no medical concerns.

“Following examination of the scene by a number of agencies, there was no cause for further investigation into the incident.”

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