South East Wales

GMB criticises Amgen Cymru treatment of Aberdare staff

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Media captionGMB union regional organiser Gareth Morgans: "It shouldn't happen in the 21st Century"

A company owned by Rhondda Cynon Taf council has been criticised by a union over its employment practices.

The GMB union said agency staff at Amgen Cymru, an arm's-length waste management company, were sent home at short notice without a full day's pay.

It said the agency, Smart Solutions Ltd, paid employees via a third party.

The agency said it had changed the way it paid staff, but it had always complied with statutory requirements.

Amgen Cymru's waste and recycling plant at Bryn Pica, near Aberdare, provides services for Rhondda Cynon Taf council and other authorities.

It operates as a separate legal entity to the council, but does have two council employees as its board of directors.

BBC Wales has seen payslips showing that some workers were not paid by Smart Solutions Ltd, but by another company until recently.

'Shouldn't happen'

The GMB union said some workers were confused about who they were working for and claimed some were told they would have to pay for a paper payslip, and any replacement personal protection equipment.

Gareth Morgans, regional organiser for the GMB, claimed some workers were paid around £7,000 per year, before expenses were added to "make up" their pay, meaning the employer was not liable for national insurance contributions.

"The implications to the individual as I see it is that this could affect their pension in years to come if no national insurance contributions are being paid for the employee," he said.

"Amgen is an arm's-length company with directors from Rhondda Cynon Taf on the board... RCT introduced an ethical procurement policy earlier this year.

"I'm hearing of employees turning up for work in this organisation, working for an hour and then being tapped on the shoulder and sent home with no pay...that's 1960s-type employment practices - it shouldn't happen in the 21st Century."

In a statement, Smart Solutions said all its workers at the Amgen site were paid "in accordance with statutory requirements", and while it would not comment on individual cases it had "not received any complaint directly" from workers at the site.

The company added that workers were not charged for the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) unless "they might repeatedly and carelessly misuse or lose PPE".

It said it had used "specialist outsourced suppliers" previously for payroll functions, which it said might explain staff seeing a different name on payslips in the past, but denied ever charging staff for a paper copy of them.

It added change in tax legislation meant agency workers were no longer able to claim tax relief on subsistence and travel expenses in connection with their work, which had previously been the case.

A Rhondda Cynon Taf council spokesperson said: "Amgen Cymru operates as an arm's-length company and, therefore, contract tendering and other such operational issues are the responsibility of the company and its board of directors.

"The council was made aware of concerns with Smart Solutions by GMB and has since made contact with Smart Solutions to look into the matter. Smart Solutions have provided the council with reassurance on the matters raised."

Smart Solutions added: "In response to the recent issues raised by the council, Smart is running a series of surgeries for workers to understand and address any concerns they may have and which affect them individually."

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