Monday, 30 June 2008

The life of a lowly worker

"It would be nice not to have to worry about money but it is always on my mind"..."I don't really go out a lot."

"I enjoy my job, but I am unsure how long I can afford to continue in it."

Monthly budget:

Rent £270
Car £85
Council tax £85
Mobile phone £15
Home phone £25
Food £80
Credit card £100
Going out £80
Savings £100
Other (clothes, toiletries etc.) £160
Total £1000
Take home pay £1000


Friday, 27 June 2008

The rulings of Elis-Thomas, Part I

An odd exchange at the Senedd last Wednesday as two Plaid Cymru members discussed the birds and the bees. Well, the bees at least:

Leanne Wood: This year more than one in
five UK bee colonies have been killed off due to a mixture of bad weather, stress and disease, according to the British Beekeepers’ Association. I know that bees are not animals, but if they disappear— [Interruption.] Perhaps that is a matter for another debate—

The Presiding Officer: Order. Bees are definitely animals.

Leanne Wood: Thank you for your ruling, Llwydd [Laughter.]

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The knock-on effect of recruitment

As previously mentioned, it seems that once again a ripple emerges and internal candidates rush forth for the glory of [self] promotion...

Assembly Commission Jobs
The National Assembly for Wales has the following opportunities. All these posts are permanent and pensionable, and are based in Cardiff Bay. Part time working or job share arrangements will be considered.

The final two should make a few people blush.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Diplomatic gesture to the Presiding Officer

The Israeli ambassador has confirmed that he received a warm reception in Wales, despite a call by Presiding Officer Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas for AMs to boycott a meeting with him.

Dafydd Elis-Thomas said he objected to Israel's "failure to meet its international obligations" towards the Palestinians.

The ambassador Ron Prosor [honorary Welshman] said the boycott call did not make sense but his welcome had been "wonderful".

The ambassador met party leaders in Cardiff Bay and is attending a private meeting with around 15 assembly members organised by Wales' only Muslim AM Mohammad Asghar.

Ambassador Prosor said he had enjoyed "a wonderful reception from the people of Wales and also from people here at the national assembly".
I have to say that when I talk to people and I listen to them it's really an amazing thing to be here in Cardiff and I'm happy to be here... The good lord [Dafydd Elis-Thomas], although a lord, not everything that he said is very noble. Especially at the national assembly, here in Wales, I'm sure that people are not following his call and I'm being treated very very nicely. We conduct an open debate and I don't mind criticism of the only democracy in the Middle East.
He insisted that Lord Elis-Thomas's protest did not makes sense for "someone who is in a national assembly, in a parliament, which comes from 'parler' - from talking to each other".

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Potential conflict of interest on track in Assembly Government

An assembly government civil servant in charge of monitoring a rail franchise is in a relationship with a top train boss, it has emerged.

The senior official, Alison Teague, is responsible for monitoring the £100m Arriva Trains Wales franchise for the assembly government, and is said to be living with the Managing Director of Arriva Trains Wales, Tim Bell, who was appointed last December.

Opposition assembly members are demanding a meeting with the assembly government about the issue. But the assembly government said stringent processes are in place to avoid any conflict of interest issues.

The Shadow Minister for the Economy and Transport, Welsh Conservative AM David Melding has said he wanted a discussion with Deputy First Minister and Transport Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones about any possible conflict of interest.

The assembly government needs to explain whether it thinks this position is appropriate given the size of the Arriva Trains Wales franchise.

I am seeking an urgent meeting with the transport minister to discuss this situation... I am confident guidance is in place to prevent potential conflicts of interest or the appearance of such conflicts.

The Welsh liberal democrat's transport spokeswoman Kirsty Williams AM, said there was a clear conflict of interest, and the public would question the situation.

I find it incredible that the minister could think it acceptable that the official with responsibility for ensuring value for money for the taxpayer from the subsidies received by Arriva Trains Wales shares a home with the boss of the company.

Whatever procedures are in place, and whatever the integrity of the individuals in question, there is a clear conflict of interest, which raises questions in people's minds.

Small, clever country

At the end of last week the Assembly Government spin-machine was in action, reporting the First Minister's visit to a small, clever country (they mean Wales. Ed.). Perhaps he ought to visit the offices of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales to discuss the deficit in public funding of universities in Wales.

According to HEFCW, compared with England (a large, clever country) the deficit rose from £40million in 2005 to £61million in 2006. It is predicted to rise to £70million for 2007.

The United Kingdom is in Europe?

While travelling.

Just wondering if anyone knows where I can get a new Sat Nav? Mine says Cardiff is in Europe!

Thats not right, is it?

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The legacy of Rhodri Morgan

Spoken from the mouth of Bethan Jenkins AM, our youngest (and very active) Assembly member:

...It made me realise that we must push forward with enhancing Wales's links with the wider International community- as Wales, and not merely as part of the UK. Surely if people believe in devolution, they can see a strong case for us attending such meetings, and promoting Wales as a serious force in the World?

Perhaps not, that is for Rhodri Morgan to discuss now that he has conceded to consider this as a viable option for Wales.

After all, he has nothing to lose in doing so, especially as he is stepping down as First Minister very soon. Surely he wants his legacy to be much more than providing free transport for the elderly? (Regardless of how important this is to those that benefit from it)

Get a move on First Minister - It's time to shake a leg, get your skates on, as the sale must end soon.

The young of Wales are voicing their opinions as to your lack of contribution to the top job.

Tories and Lib Dems' deal in Newport City

The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats say they have struck a deal to take control of Newport council.

The council has been in limbo since May's local elections after no party won an outright majority, although Labour remains the biggest party overall.

Talks over leadership were further delayed by two by-elections.

Labour had held power in the city for nearly 30 years.

Donate Wales


A pioneering campaign aimed at increasing the number of organ donors in Wales. It is supported by leading charities and celebrities. Transplants are the best possible treatment for most people with organ failure. But there is a serious shortage of donors.


A Kidney Wales Foundation Campaign
Contact Noel Davies-Kidney Wales Foundation for further details
1-3 Museum Place
Cardiff, United Kingdom

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Assembly IT: Surf's up for staff

Senior management of the Welsh Assembly Government are taking an increasingly harsh approach to abuses of the Assembly IT system; and even to information put up on the internet by staff in their own time or at home.

Throughout 2007 many staff have received final warnings for forwarding risque pictures by e-mail, and already this year PCS is supporting members facing disciplinary actions due to their use of IT. Management aren't interested in debating what is an inappropriate image. When it comes to IT they are the reincarnation of the Puritans. Understandably, they want to avoid what happened in the DVLA, where explicit images were circulated, leading to 18 sackings and another 148 staff being disciplined following a huge amount of negative media coverage.

Assembly Minister Brian Gibbons' act of online listening to 'The Archers' during a Senedd debate would have landed him with a disciplinary - were he an Assembly member of staff.

One of the biggest online developments in recent years has been the growth of social networking sites such as MySpace, Bebo and Facebook. Here people create online profiles of themselves, exchange public messages and post photos and videos online. PCS strongly advise members not to declare that they work for the Assembly, especially if their members post compromising photos of themselves or make political statements.

Some companies even check peoples' online profiles, to vet if they are suitable for employment; and once an online profile has been set up it can be very difficult to remove. PCS urge members to be very careful as to what they say online, as some of their members have run into trouble and been subjected to disciplinary proceedings following comments made on blogs.

[Source: PCS Wales]

Monday, 9 June 2008

Welsh Assembly Government Recruitment

Having worked in Human Resources, I always take a keen interest in what still goes on in the world of recruitment. Given that this is a blog about Welsh politics, thought I'd show you what a generic Welsh Assembly Government recruitment advertisement looks like.

Different people.
Same values.

Aiming to be the best public sector organisation in Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government lives by its values of delivering results, valuing people and achieving excellence by mainstreaming equality and embracing difference through a diverse workforce. We are particularly committed to improving representation of women, people from ethnic minorities and disabled people at every level of the organisation and would welcome applications from all sections of the community so that we can be more representative of the people whom we serve.

When vacancies arise they will be posted on our website or visit your local job centre. Alternatively contact the Recruitment Team on 02920 821580.

We welcome applications from under-represented groups.

In reality, most of the vacancies that arise cover the lower end of the job market, are Welsh-speaking, or are technical in nature, which is a far cry from reaching out to all sections of the community.

The opening paragraph also raises eyebrows to a higher-level than usual. Does anyone remember the following posts?

  1. Inequality at the Assembly
  2. Pay and pension can be a lottery
  3. Merthyr Tydfil Office: First Anniversary Propaganda
  4. Assembly Senior Civil Servant Accused
  5. AMs Question Internal Inquiry by the Civil Service
  6. Assembly Government: A bad week in the life of those in charge
  7. Fresh Review by Assembly's Top Civil Servant
  8. Assembly civil servant resigns, but what about the inquiry?
  9. A mild form of state control
  10. No Dignity at Work: procedures were reasonable under the circumstance

Friday, 6 June 2008


The Western Mail today dutifully reports John Prescott's promotional book tour date in Cardiff. Curiously there is no mention of two of Prezza's comments that had more direct relevance to Wales.

Firstly, and not surprisingly, he hailed the whole devolution project as a success and said that moving power close to the people should be a core Labour principle. The English regions, he said, would probably receive devolved government and that he hoped it would come within 20 years but not at the expense of the UK.

Almost as an aside he mentioned the virtues of regional development agencies and how having development outside the civil service was quite effective. Perhaps Wales could consider doing this. Such an organisation would need a name to capture the essence of its functions. How about 'the Welsh Development Agency'?

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

PCS Union: Ten years on

This year, one of the largest trade unions in the UK - the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) - celebrates its tenth birthday, having formed from the merger of CPSA and PTC. Whether you agree with the idea of a trade union - or not as the case may be - here's a number of statistics for the record.


  • 38% of civil servants earn £10,000 to £15,000.
  • A loaf of bread costs 51 pence.
  • Strike days are at their lowest levels for a century.
  • Families with children make up less than one in four households - down from 38% in 1961.
  • The number of civil service staff falls by 37% from its peak in 1976.
  • House prices rose by around 7% compared with the previous year.

  • Average civil service salaries are approximately £20,000.
  • More than three quarters of people say the gap between rich and poor is too large.
  • 32% of public sector workers say it is very important to them that their job is useful to society, compared to 15% of private sector staff.
  • More than three quarters of couples say the woman usually does the laundry, a similar proportion to 1998 and 1978.
  • Nearly one in five civil servants works part-time.

[Source: PCS Union 2008]

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