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Gritters in Carmarthenshire set to strike

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Gritters in Carmarthenshire County Council Highways department are set to strike early in the new year, after GMB union members overwhelmingly voted to take industrial action. 

The move will see more than 50 gritters go on strike.

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Strike dates will be set when other unions – who have a further 20 members between them – also ballot for industrial action.

In total 90% of members voted in favour of action after the council reneged on the agreement they signed with the union. 

The dispute follows on from action taken two years ago that saw the introduction of the comprehensive collective agreement between the union and the authority.  

GMB is the largest union within the highways department, and with a shortage of HGV drivers strike action could see the entire road network come to a standstill.

All the recognised unions in the authority have registered a dispute with the authority over continuing breaches of this agreement by the authority, with Unison and Unite expected to ballot members over the coming weeks. 

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Peter Hill, GMB regional Organiser, said: “It is hugely disappointing for our members that we find ourselves in this position again.  

“We signed an agreement with Carmarthenshire just two years ago two years ago and all we’re asking is that they honour what they signed up to.” 

“Sticking to the agreement costs the authority nothing. We’ve put forward a number of positive suggestions for how the dispute can be resolved. But despite months of talks the authority seems hell-bent on a dispute with our members.

“After the last two years where our members worked loyally throughout the pandemic it is a kick in the teeth for them.

“Carmarthenshire now risks complete road network shut down this winter after the council broke its promise to workers.”

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In response, Cllr Hazel Evans, Carmarthenshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “We reject comments made by GMB regarding the agreement – our staff are being paid the rates for duties as set out in the collective agreement.

“We are continuing our conversations with trade unions and our staff on this issue, and whilst we wish to avoid industrial action we have contingency measures in place to ensure the safety of travelling public in the event of action taking place.”

(Lead image: GMB)

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