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Cost-of-living crisis: Workers have gone without meals or pawned posessions says Union

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Hundreds of public sector workers in Wales have pawned possessions to survive while more than 1,000 have gone without meals says UNISON

A heart-breaking survey by UNISON Cymru/Wales, which represents tens of thousands of public sector workers in Wales, has revealed the devastating impact of the cost-of-living crisis on those providing vital public services.

The news comes as the union is preparing to host a major rally against the crisis in the centre of Cardiff as well as launching a ballot of health workers for industrial action following a derisory pay award.

UNISON’s latest survey, which was completed by more than 6,000 workers including 1,555 NHS staff, found 46% of those who took part said their monthly living costs had increased by up to £300 while 1,188 people had asked for financial support from family or friends.

It also revealed 404 people had pawned possessions to survive while 1,025 have gone without meals and 274 workers had used a food bank.

UNISON heard first-hand from public sector employees facing the full force of the crisis.

Vanessa, a kitchen assistant in Torfaen, said: “My son is disabled with cerebral palsy on benefits and lives in a bungalow on his own.

“His gas and electric have gone up from £85pm to £185pm and he’s asked me when he should put the heating on.

“I am worrying how I will keep subsidising him on the money I earn. It’s not feasible. If it wasn’t for Universal Credit, I wouldn’t be able to live in my flat, but I am contemplating moving in with him.

“The government doesn’t understand the cost-of-living crisis. They don’t seem to care and are deceitful. It is heart-breaking to see my son in this position.”

Alison, a public service worker in Powys, said: “Coming towards the end of each month, I have gone without meals and made do with water, a cup of tea or hot chocolate.

“The family supermarket shop used to cost £60, now the same shop costs me £90. I’m technically disabled and I hoped to save for a bathroom adaptation, but there’s absolutely no money to put away.

“So long-term, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to stay in my home. I’m hoping for a change of government.

“The Conservatives don’t care about working class people.”

Dominic MacAskill, UNISON Cymru/Wales regional secretary, said: “Our latest survey has tragically revealed the threat of homelessness, hunger and in-work poverty is now an every-day reality for public service workers and their families in Wales.

“Thousands of UNISON-organised workers across all public services in Wales are feeling undervalued, underpaid and overwhelmed.

“We are living under a Tory Westminster government whose ‘mini’ budget overtly benefits the richest members of society at the same time as undermining the needs of the vast majority of people.

“There is now a stark division between them and us and a pressing need for a broader trade union and labour movement led socialist response.”

Wales TUC general secretary, Shavanah Taj, will be speaking at the UNISON rally and said: “Workers in Wales are facing huge uncertainty this winter.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are unsure about what their energy bills are going to look like.

“It’s more important than ever that workers stand together to defend their pay and conditions at work. Everyone has a role to play in this fight.”

Cynon Valley MP Beth Winter conducted her own survey into how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting her constituents and will also address the rally.

She said: “The cost-of-living report I completed in Cynon Valley earlier this year shone a light on the level of fear and suffering in our communities.

“Over 80% of people reported that finances were having a negative impact on their mental health while 40% of people said they are simply not going to put the heating on at all in the next year.

“One person even said they felt guilty for bringing their children into the world.

“Westminster holds the purse strings, but working people can’t afford to wait around for a Labour government to get into power, we need to organise now.”

The UNISON Cymru/Wales cost-of-living crisis rally takes place at the Radisson Blu Hotel on Thursday October 6 from 5:30pm to 7pm.

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Tenby’s favourite Japanese restaurant Umi reopens under new ownership

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There’s great news for aficionados of Japanese cuisine in Pembrokeshire, the much-loved Umi restaurant, which closed its doors on High Street in Tenby in January, is now set to welcome diners once again under the new stewardship of Lok and Jen Cheung.

The couple, renowned for their culinary ventures including The Dragon Palace Chinese restaurant at Pentlepoir and Lokky’s and The Imperial Dragon Inn at nearby Wooden, are on a mission to redefine the Japanese dining experience in the picturesque Welsh town.

The grand reopening of Umi – which means The Ocean in Japanese – took place on Wednesday, February 28, has been the subject of much anticipation and excitement. “We are beyond excited to announce the grand reopening of Umi today,” Lok and Jen expressed, inviting customers to prepare for a “culinary voyage that will transport you straight to the vibrant streets of Japan.”

Umi’s commitment to quality and authenticity shines through in its offerings. The restaurant promises an array of fresh ingredients, expertly crafted sushi rolls, and mouth-watering Japanese delicacies. “From traditional favourites like sashimi and tempura to unique fusion creations, our menu is a true celebration of flavours,” the couple shared in a recent Facebook post.

However, Umi aims to offer more than just exquisite food. The restaurant’s serene and stylish ambiance is designed to immerse guests in the beauty and tranquillity of Japanese culture, making it an ideal venue for both intimate dinners and lively gatherings with friends.

Lok and Jen are no strangers to the hospitality industry. The busy parents of four have previously made their mark with the success of The Dragon Palace, followed by the opening of Lokky’s, which features cuisine inspired by eastern Asia. In June last year, they expanded their portfolio with the launch of The Imperial Dragon Hotel, notable for its themed rooms that include Indian, Japanese, and Chinese decor.

Their efforts have not gone unnoticed in the culinary world. The Dragon Palace was awarded the Best Oriental Restaurant in the Food Awards Wales 2022, and Lokky’s secured the title of Best Asian Restaurant in Wales at the Golden Chopsticks Awards 2022.

With such a rich background and a clear passion for enriching Tenby’s dining scene, the reopening of Umi under Lok and Jen Cheung is poised to be a gastronomic event that will further cement their reputation as pioneers of Asian cuisine in Wales.

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McDonald’s thanks Milford Haven after a busy first day

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MC DONALD’S new restaurant in Milford Haven, which opened its doors for the first time today, February 28th, at 11am, has already become a hit with the locals, thanks to an overwhelming turnout.

The opening day saw the restaurant bustling with patrons eager to check out the new location.

Reflecting on the day, the McDonald’s team extended a warm message of gratitude. A spokesperson said: “Wow, you came to see us in your droves today!

“We certainly tried our best to provide good service to you all. Inevitably at times, service was a bit slower than we would have liked, but we hope to see you all again soon.

“Thank you from team Milford.”

Despite the busy start and not offering breakfast on its first day—a detail proactively communicated to customers—the franchise’s focus remained steadfast on ensuring everyone had a positive experience.

The commitment of the new McDonald’s restaurant to the local community extends beyond its menu. In partnership with the police and Port Authority, the franchise is actively working to address anti-social behaviour and improve traffic management around the new site.

These collaborations aim to create a safe and enjoyable environment for both patrons and the broader community, reinforcing McDonald’s dedication to making a positive impact, the company said.

The opening of the restaurant has also brought significant employment opportunities to Milford Haven, with 90 new jobs created.

This boost increases the total number of individuals employed by Lonetree Limited, the local franchisee, to around 1,700 across its 17 McDonald’s outlets in South West Wales.

As McDonald’s encourages residents to follow their social media for updates, the overarching message is one of gratitude and excitement for the future.

A local councillor said: “The successful launch day sets a promising tone for the McDonald’s restaurant in Milford Haven as it embarks on its journey to be more than just a place to eat but a valued community partner.”

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McDonald’s opens new branch in Milford Haven today

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A BRAND new McDonald’s restaurant is opening its doors in Milford Haven today (Feb 28) at 11am, offering locals a fresh dining option with a promise of community engagement and attention to local issues. The opening marks a departure from the usual breakfast service, with the restaurant opting to start later on its first day, running until 11 pm, before resuming its regular hours of 6 am to 11 pm thereafter.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s Milford Haven expressed enthusiasm for the launch, stating, “We are excited to be opening at 11am! We are open all the way through till 11pm and can’t wait to serve all of you throughout the day/week. We hope no matter what time of the day or night you visit us that you enjoy your first look around our new store.”

The opening day’s late start means that breakfast will not be available, a point the franchise was keen to highlight ahead of time. “Good Afternoon, Our opening hours will be 6am-11pm. But however, on opening day we will be opening at 11am so no breakfast,” the company announced, setting the stage for what is anticipated to be an enjoyable experience despite this minor setback.

In a move that underscores its commitment to becoming an integral part of the Milford Haven community, McDonald’s has announced collaborations with local law enforcement and the Port Authority to address anti-social behaviour and ensure efficient traffic management around the new location.

This partnership, The Herald was told, aims to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for both patrons and the broader community.

The McDonald’s restaurant franchise encouraging residents to follow their social media pages for updates and to share news of the opening with friends and family.

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