Gritters take industrial action
MEMBERS of three unions in Carmarthenshire have voted not to grit roads overnight for three consecutive nights between 18 and 20 December.
The action has been timed for maximum impact ahead of forecasted icy weather conditions in parts of the county.
The effect on commuters to Carmarthenshire from Pembrokeshire could be significant, as could the potential for travel chaos if Pembrokeshire shoppers head east to buy Christmas gifts.
As we went to press, a meeting was scheduled between Carmarthenshire County Council and the unions in an attempt to avert industrial action.
The strike vote followed an official dispute between GMB, Unison and Unite unions and CCC over the issue of rates of pay for staff undertaking winter gritting duties.
The council made an offer to staff that was rejected unanimously by members of GMB, the largest union in the depots, with a mandate to ballot for action if negotiations do not progress.
The unions say Carmarthenshire currently has some of the worst terms and conditions for staff under-taking gritting duties in comparison with other local authorities, and staff risking their own insurance when working.
Peter Hill, GMB Regional Organiser said: “We negotiated in good faith over the last year to try and find a deal, but unfortunately we’ve yet to get a fair deal for GMB members.
“Staff are being forced to undertake winter gritting on low rates of pay, after years of real-terms decline in the wages.
“Our members are angry and frustrated.”
The unions have indicated an intention to step up their industrial action in the New Year.
Beware of unlicensed taxi drivers this Christmas party season
A WARNING has been sounded about rogue taxi drivers as the Christmas party season approaches.
Carmarthenshire County Council licensing officers are urging people to stay safe when they use a cab.
They fear unlicensed drivers will be cashing in as growing numbers of people need taxis over the busy festive period.
Cabbies will be in high demand over the coming weeks as partygoers decide to drink and not drive. More people are also out shopping and the cold and wet weather means less will be inclined to walk home or wait at bus stops.
Licensing officers at Carmarthenshire Council have joined forces with the police to raise awareness of the problem and to carry out joint enforcement across the county during this busy period.
Residents are being warned they are not insured if they travel in an unlicensed cab, and people are being urged to check out cars and their drivers before they get in.
Licensed drivers will have been DBS checked, trained on how to safeguard members of the public, and should always wear identification badges.
Taxis are usually parked at known ranks, or their numbers can be found in various directories online.
Hackney carriages, which can be flagged down by the roadside, always have a roof sign, which is illuminated when they are available for hire.
They also display two identifying white door stickers and a white plate on the back bumper.
Taxis should display a list of fares for passengers and be fitted with meters, which should always begin with an initial charge of £2.20 before 10pm and £2.40 afterwards.
Private hire vehicles can only be pre-booked and not stopped in the street.
They carry two identifying yellow door stickers and a yellow plate on the back bumper.
I have lost the weight of my seven year old in a matter of months!
Andrea Morris, 35, from Llanelli, was fed up of being the fat friend.
‘I’ve been overweight as long as I can remember. After getting married I struggled to conceive. I had PCOS and hadn’ ovulated in over a year. I was advised by my GP to lose weight so I did! I managed to lose 2 stone and I got pregnant, regaining the weight after giving birth. I repeated this cycle of losing weight to get pregnant three times and ended up heavier than I’d ever been.’
In January 2019, after seeing some photos of herself in a Christmas dress Andrea decided that enough was enough.
‘At the time I thought I looked nice in that dress but looking back on it I really disliked the way I looked. Not only that, I was fed up of being the fat mam at the school gates. I was self-conscious, had no self-esteem and no energy to chase my three children. I felt worried I was going to put myself in an early grave by piling on the weight.’
On 3rd January 2019 Andrea joined WW (formerly Weight Watchers) with WW Coach Catrin Morris in Llanelli, weighing 18 st 2.5lb.
‘My first workshop was fab! I came out feeling amazing. Catrin made me feel so empowered as she asked me what my ‘why’ was to lose weight. Even though I knew why I needed to, I hadn’t thought hard about it. It made me realise that I wanted to wear clothes that I liked, not just ones that covered my lumps and big bumps. I wanted to make my children proud and set a good example for them. I didn’t want to die young from weight related illnesses.’
The WW plan is based on a SmartPoints counting system, where all foods and drinks have a value. Each member has a personalised budget to spend on the foods that they love and fit in with their lifestyle, depending on which plan they are following; Blue, Green or Purple. Within each plan there zero point foods that don’t need to be counted to help stretch the budget. The plan also incorporates mind-set and activity.
Before she knew it, Andrea, a busy mum of 3, was losing weight. As her weight dropped, her confidence grew which encouraged her to become more active and take up Couch25K and join exercise classes like Boogie Bounce.
‘I love the WW App, which is included with a subscription membership plan. The app makes sticking to budget easy. There is a barcode scanner to scan every day foods to find out the SmartPoints value. In addition to this there are 1000’s of recipes which help me to plan my meals with ease. I can grab food on the go and still feel like I’m in control knowing I can have zero pointed food if I’ve used my entire SmartPoints budget.’
Andrea finds eating out is absolutely doable with this plan.
‘Nando’s is one of my favourite places to eat. I use the Restaurant section in the App to help me find the lowest point option. I usually choose butterfly chicken, macho peas and corn on the cob. A Subway chicken tikka sub for 6 points fits in perfectly too when I’m on the go.’
By October 2019, Andrea has lost an amazing 4 stone 5lb.
‘Recently, while I was sorting breakfast for the family, my 7 year old daughter weighed herself on our bathroom scales and announced proudly that she was 4 stone 5 lb. This was something that she hadn’t done before as I don’t encourage my children to weigh themselves. The WW ethos is that it is more than just the numbers on the scales and as such I don’t ‘worry’ about the numbers. It is more about how I feel, getting healthier and the changes in my behaviours to achieve this. What hit home was that this was how much weight I had lost!’
For Andrea this weight loss and change in her outlook wouldn’t have happened without the support of WW Coach Catrin and the weekly WW Workshop.
‘The workshops have helped me think about my relationship with food and encouraged me to become more active. Each week we explore a different technique to help us change our behaviours. Recent topics have been how to manage stress, how to sit less and eat more fruit and veg, all things that I need help and advice with. The group support is brilliant.’
‘My life has changed for the better. I’m happier and more outgoing. Simple things like taking the children to Legoland are so much more enjoyable as I don’t have to worry that I won’t fit in the rides! I have gained friends from attending the workshop and with my new found body confidence I have bought a dress that I would never have worn before for my friend’s wedding. I’m not quite where I want to be yet but I can see the end is achievable. I’m so motivated and watching the scales go down each week is amazing. I’d recommend WW to everyone!’
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