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Report "sensible and balanced" says union

Unison, the union which represents many local council workers, has broadly welcomed the Williams Commission report and it's call for a series of mergers that would halve the number of county and county borough councils in Wales.

The union says that it will study the recommendations and their impact on public sector workers throughout Wales.

The report appears to be a sensible and balanced response to the challenges that Welsh public services face and we are pleased that the commission acknowledges the increased demand being placed on services at a time of budget restraint. Understandably there is going to be a lot of focus on the future of Welsh local government and we welcome the assertion that the ‘status quo’ is not an option. Unison is calling for the Welsh Government to establish a staff commission with significant trade union involvement to oversee this reorganisation process.

Unison has always been clear that 22 local authorities across Wales is an unsustainable position. We need to use this chance to ensure that local authorities can sustainably deliver good quality services and value for money to Welsh communities. However, Unison is concerned that there are going to be significant transitional costs incurred as a result of reorganisation and believes that the Welsh Government should commit to fund any reorganisation and local authority budgets should not be required to absorb these costs.

Local authority budgets must be used responsibly and for the delivery of services to the communities they serve, which would be incompatible with having to fund reorganisation. We are positive about many of the opportunities outlined in the report for local government but we are disappointed that there is no recommendation to merge the eight current Local Government Pension Scheme funds into one all Wales fund which would lead to over £65 million year on year savings and we would urge the Welsh government to take this into consideration.

– Dominic MacAskill, head of local government Unison Cymru Wales

Redundancy will 'affect very small number of staff'

The cumulative impact of the UK Government's decisions means that our budget has been cut by £1.7 billion in real terms since 2010-11.

The impact of these cuts on all public services, including the NHS, is inescapable. We know that health boards are facing unprecedented levels of demand and additional burdens, and have responded by increasing the health budget in Wales by £570m over three years.

Cardiff and Vale Health Board is not making 400 members of staff redundant. Faced with increasing demands against a backdrop of austerity, it is modernising and creating more efficient systems and ways of working. As a result of these changes, some staff are being redeployed, some are taking voluntary early release, and where posts are no longer needed, those posts are being removed. We are reassured that compulsory redundancy will affect a very small number of staff, as a last resort.

– A Welsh Government spokesperson

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Health workers plan job cut protest at Senedd

Unions claim planned NHS job cuts raise "serious concerns" for clinical services. Credit: PA

UNISON members from across South Wales plan to demonstrate today against jobs cuts being proposed by the Cardiff and Vale health board.

A petition will be delivered to the National Assembly for Wales as part of the campaign to protect jobs and services says the union.

The board is aiming to reduce staff by 380 by next March.

The Chief Executive of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board says fewer than 40 staff are at risk of compulsory redundancy.

Mike Jones of UNISON said, "We know the Welsh government has aimed to work in partnership with the unions and the NHS around these budget pressures and we applaud them for that. Unfortunately Cardiff and Vale has decided to go their own way - that is frustrating and demoralising.**

"In our view, cutting jobs flies in the face of the staffing issues raised in the Francis report. We know that staffing levels are key to the sustainability of good quality safe services and there are certain clinical areas being considered that lead us to have serious concerns," he said.**

University: 'Strike action is regrettable'

The University has taken steps to minimise the impact and plan to maintain services as far as possible. All University buildings will be open. There may be some minimal disruption to opening times for some University buildings, postal services and teaching. Any changes to the teaching schedule will be communicated directly via Academic Schools.

"It is regrettable that the Trade Unions have decided to take this action. Pay negotiations are conducted at a UK level and we would encourage the Trade Unions to continue dialogue within the agreed national procedures."

It is regrettable that the Trade Unions have decided to take this action. Pay negotiations are conducted at a UK level and we would encourage the Trade Unions to continue dialogue within the agreed national procedures.

– Cardiff University Spokesman

University staff to strike over 1% wage rise

A picket line is expected to be held at Cardiff University. Credit: PA

Higher Education workers are due take strike action this morning in response to a pay offer of a 1%.

UNISON Cymru says it will be taking industrial action and holding a picket line at Cardiff University alongside Unite and University and College Union.

Simon Dunn, UNISON Cymru/Wales higher education lead, said, "Some of our members in higher education are not even paid a living wage and most have experienced a real term drop in wages of almost 15%. That is bound to have a devastating impact on people's lives.

"And to add further insult to injury, Chief Executives' and Vice Chancellors' pay is extremely generous, with the highest paid vice chancellor in Wales receiving £264,000 a year."

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Emergency ops 'not affected' by winter plans

The health board says emergency operations will not be affected by their winter plans. Credit: ITV News

Hywel Dda Health Board has denied health union claims that it is cancelling operations this winter to save money.

But it says some surgery - such as knee and hip replacements - will be postponed.

The health board says it has a responsibility to ensure continued safe care at this time of increased pressure and is putting plans in place now to respond to the anticipated increase in activity over the winter.

Dr Phil Kloer, Director of Clinical Services, said, “There have been too many operations cancelled at the last minute due to emergency admissions. In previous winters, we had up to 160 additional beds in place often being managed by temporary staff. This is not a position we can sustain this year.

”We would like to reassure patients that if they have an urgent clinical need they will be seen. Emergency and cancer procedures, the vast majority of orthopaedic day surgery and other elective procedures will also continue.”

Hip and knee operations 'cancelled' till 2014 claim

Unison claims orthopaedic surgery will be cancelled at four Welsh hospitals. Credit: PA

The health service union, UNISON, claims all planned orthopaedic surgery for four main hospitals in the Hywel Dda Health Board area have been cancelled until April 2014.

It says the hospitals affected will be Prince Philip, Glangwili, Bronglais and Withybush Hospitals.

Unison says the health board has to make financial savings and as a result hip and knee replacements will be cancelled.

UNISON Branch Chairperson, Wendy Evans, said, “The Health Board already has a waiting time of 15 months for patients awaiting orthopaedic surgery. This will clearly add at least another five to six months to their waiting time, causing further distress."

The union says it has written to the Health Minister, Mr Mark Drakeford to complain about the decision.

UNISON: "Logical and rational response" to demands on Welsh NHS

In response to the Health Minister’s announcement of a £82m contingency fund for struggling health boards, Dawn Bowden, UNISON Cymru/Wales head of health, said:

Clearly, the quality and standards of the NHS in Wales is of the utmost importance to us all.

The NHS and NHS workers in Wales are under enormous and ever increasing pressures. We know that our members strive day in and day out to deliver the best possible care for patients.

UNISON agrees that the contingency funding announced today by the Health Minister will help our members to continue to provide a service they are proud of and so we welcome this decision.

We know that this is not a ‘bail out’, but is a logical and rational response to the demands that the Welsh NHS is currently facing.”

– Dawn Bowden, UNISON Cymru/Wales

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