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Justice at last for female employees



Doreen Goldthorpe: Four years hard work has led to 100 women getting a payout

Doreen Goldthorpe: Four years hard work has led to 100 women getting a payout

SOME one hundred female employees and former employees of Pembrokeshire County Council are celebrating this week having successfully pursued a claim for Equal Pay Discrimination against the local authority, which is set to cost the council hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Claimants included hard working care workers, cleaners, dinner ladies and lollipop ladies began their action in 2012, when formal complaints of discrimination to Pembrokeshire County Council were completely rebuffed by the authority’s senior staff.

The ladies however were not to be put off and contacted solicitor Mr Chris Benson of Leigh Day & Co, London, who after considering the matter agreed to take on the case. Leigh Day had previously succeeded in winning a landmark case on Equal Pay in the High Court whilst representing female workers of Birmingham City Council.

An open meeting was held at the Cleddau Bridge Hotel, Pembroke Dock, when more employees who believed they had been discriminated against came forward and following this the case was pursued by Leigh Day which has resulted in this week’s payment to the claimants in an out of court settlement agreed with the council.

The Ladies are extremely grateful to Leigh Day for their diligent approach to the case that has lasted nearly four years, but are less than complimentary to the council who have fought the claim every step of the way, despite other local authorities settling their claims many years ago.

The union UNISON also offered no help to the group, stating in a letter to the women in 2012 that ‘you cannot bring a claim unless you do so within six months of leaving your employment, changing your job, being promoted or your employment transferring to a different employer’.

The landmark case against Birmingham City Council led by the team from Leigh Day at the Supreme Court led to the historic judgement that extended the time limit for claims from six months to six years.

In December 2014 the women were told they were entitled to pay outs but that they were unlikely to receive them before Christmas that year, which caused great unrest amongst the women, as former Chief Executive Bryn Parry-Jones had received a six figure settlement whilst they were still waiting.

Over two years later the claim has finally been settled despite the continuing claims from the council that some women were not entitled to payment as there was ‘no male comparator’ in their job role.

The council had claimed that cooks in charge, cook supervisors and care staff were eligible for pay-outs whilst cleaners, catering assistants, lunchtime supervisors, teaching assistants and school crossing patrols were not. Leigh Day and Co, who gathered information from local unions and other sources to support their claim that every woman was entitled, challenged this. The council also admitted making ‘nominal’ pay-outs to employees in ineligible job roles in order to avoid the legal costs of contesting these claims. With the council now also having to pay the solicitors fees on top of the individual pay outs, the eventual bill is sure to be multiple hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Mrs Doreen Goldthorp has led the charge against the council, after she was underpaid in her role as a care worker, she told The Herald: “After four years of fighting Pembrokeshire County Council we have finally come to the close of our claim, in which there are 100 of us waiting to be paid out our cheques from Mr Chris Benson and Ms Sara Rumberg from Leigh Day & Co at their London office.

“Thank you very much to them, and I’m sure all these people when they get their cheques will appreciate what has been achieved.

“I am delighted that something I started four years ago has now resulted in 100 women in similar situations getting their just rewards and receiving their pay out.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without the fantastic team at Leigh Day, who took on our case when our unions UNISON and GMB said they would not, and when the council said we had no chance.

“We were told by the council at one point to ‘take us on you won’t win anything’ and we have proven them wrong. It is a wonderful day.”

The Herald contacted Pembrokeshire County Council for comment, a spokesperson said: “I understand a settlement has been agreed with just over 100 ex-female employees relating to compensatory payments in lieu of equal pay.

“Initially some of them would not have been liable for a payout as there was only a six month window in which a claim could be made. However a landmark case involving Birmingham City Council in 2012 increased the window for lodging a claim to six years.”

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Police: RNLI ‘most likely saved man’s life’ following tombstoning incident



POLICE have issued an urgent warning following a tombstoning incident Tenby on Saturday evening (Apr 10).

A multi-agency operation was launched just after 6pm following reports of a man in difficulty after jumping from cliffs into the sea.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys police told The Herald: “We were called to the beach opposite St Catherine’s Island at around 6.15pm today, where a man had got into difficulty after jumping off the cliff into the water.

“On the arrival of officers, RNLI were at the scene and were administering CPR to the 23-year-old who was unconscious and not breathing.

“Fortunately, he regained consciousness shortly after and was taken to hospital for assessment.

Inspector Gavin Howells added: “This incident highlights the serious danger posed by tombstoning or cliff jumping, and the potentially life-threatening consequences.

“We urge people not to take part in this sort of activity anywhere along our coastline, and not to put themselves or the emergency services at risk for a thrill.

“We would like to thank our colleagues at the RNLI for their swift response to this incident, and for their actions which most likely saved this man’s life.”

RNLI Tenby posted on Facebook the following: “The Georgina Taylor was launched after person seen in difficulty in water

“Tenby’s RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched at around 6.25pm on Saturday, following a report of somebody in difficulty in the sea off Castle Beach.

“The volunteer crew were quickly on scene and immediately saw the casualty, who had been pulled from the water and was on the rocks.

“The casualty was taken from the rocks and into the lifeboat, where Casualty Care was administered whilst the helmsman made best speed to the harbour.

“As the lifeboat was entering the harbour, an ambulance was arriving at the slipway.

“The crew then assisted the ambulance personnel in getting the casualty onto the stretcher and into the ambulance, before re-housing the lifeboat.

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Police and drugs advice service issue warning over ‘deadly batch’ of heroin



POLICE have asked the media to issue a warning over a batch of heroin.

The drug circulating in west Wales, first detected in Llanelli, is particularly dangerous, it has been confirmed.

“We are warning drug users to take extra care following reports of a particularly harmful batch of heroin circulating in the Llanelli area” said a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson.

“We have reasons to believe some drugs being distributed and used in the Carmarthenshire area at present have been contaminated with other substances and could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately if they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone you believe could come into contact with these drugs.

”In an emergency or if you think someone’s life is at risk always dial 999.”

Earlier this week Barod, the drug and alcohol abuse service reported a dangerous and toxic heroin circulating in Pembroke Dock which a spokesperson described as being ‘potentially deadly’.

To comes as Public Health England issued a formal alert about the risks of heroin containing fentanyl or carfentanyl.

The warning reads: “There is significant evidence from a small number of post-mortem results of recent drug user deaths and from police seizures that some heroin may contain fentanyl or carfentanyl added by dealers.

“These are highly potent synthetic opioids and very small amounts can cause severe or even fatal toxicity.

“Those of you in contact with heroin users should be alert to the increased possibility of overdose arising from heroin cut with these synthetic opioids, be able to recognise possible symptoms of overdose and respond appropriately.”

The fentanyls are a group of synthetic opioids; some have legitimate uses while others are illicit drugs.

Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine and is a licensed medicine used to treat severe and terminal pain. Carfentanyl is 4,000 – 10,000 times more potent than morphine and principally used as an animal tranquilliser.

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Tenby’s famous walrus ‘Wally’ has been spotted again



TENBY’S most famous marine animal has been spotted again after fears she had been scared away.

Wally was spotted on Friday evening by the seaside town’s Lifeboat station.

Thought to be a two-year-old male, the walrus’s return comes after it was feared she had been disturbed by people flocking to catch a glimpse of her and “getting too close”

The animal has attracted hundreds of people to the seaside town now that the travel restrictions with Wales have been lifted to coincide with the Easter school holidays.

Wally was last seen on Monday, but  members of the public were warned it was in the animal’s “best interests” to be “left alone” as much as possible and they were urged to “avoid the temptation to get near and disturb” her.

A joint statement was issued by the RSPCA, Tenby harbour master Chris Salisbury, Welsh Marine Life Rescue, Tenby lifeboat coxswain Phil John, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Natural Resources Wales and CSIP Marine Environmental Rescue said that they were concerned to hear that people had tried to get close by using personal watercraft or paddle and surfboards.

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