Council staff inspect headstones at Lanarkshire cemetery for safety


Headstones at Westburn Cemetery in Cambuslang are currently being inspected by council staff.

South Lanarkshire Council (SLC) has a duty of care to provide a safe environment for both visitors and staff.

Westburn is the latest plot to be inspected as part of checks being carried out at all 55 cemeteries across the area.

Around 25,000 headstones have been checked so far.

Fully-trained operatives carry out the checks, and where a headstone is found to be unsafe, lair owners are contacted in writing and a sign attached to the headstone advising issues with its stability.

If the headstone shows significant movement and is deemed unsafe, it is immediately secured by use of wooden posts and banding.


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Advice is then given that the lair owner should contact the memorial mason who erected the headstone to look at the possibility of making a suitable repair.

The council’s head of facilities, waste and grounds services, Alistair McKinnon, told Lanarkshire Live : “We do not have the right or the responsibility to make repairs to headstones.

“However, should the lair holder not make contact within the designated timescale, we will lay the headstone flat or ‘trench in’ the headstone to ensure safety.

“We acknowledge that in some cases families may be attending the lair without full knowledge of the process and we would apologise in advance for any distress caused.”

Information will be posted on the notice boards at the entrance to each cemetery when inspections are taking place.

Should you wish to discuss any matter arising please contact Bereavement Services by calling 0303 123 1016.



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AP tax staff helping Telugu Desam MLC P. Ashok Babu


Vijayawada: Senior officials of the AP commercial taxes department (CTD) have gone all out to safeguard the interests of Telugu Desam MLC P. Ashok Babu, a bitter critic of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

Ignoring all evidence available on record, the CTD gave a clean chit to Ashok Babu in a Lokayukta case. State GST commissioner Peeyush Kumar even wrote to its registrar to drop further action on a complaint filed against the MLC.

 

Making things more embarrassing for the ruling dispensation, the CTD on Saturday illegally transferred the complainant in the case, B. Meher Kumar, GST officer and president of the AP Commercial Taxes NGOs Association. Meher approached the Lokayukta against the TD MLC after the YSR Congress took the reins of the government.

“Transfer of the complainant along with four others is a clear case of witch hunting because he questioned the previous inquiry conducted by senior officials into Ashok Babu’s case and approached the Lokayukta against them,” alleged K.R. Suryanarayana, president of the AP Government Employees Association. The transfer of Meher Kumar and others to any district other than Krishna is a clear violation of the Presidential Order, he pointed out.

 

Inquiries revealed that Ashok Babu had applied for voluntary retirement just before filing his nomination paper as MLC during the Chandrababu Naidu regime. There were allegations about his wrong claims of education qualification and pending criminal cases but the then inquiry officer looked the other way and a gave clean chit to Ashok Babu, facilitating his retirement from service and contesting the Legislative Council elections.

Meher Kumar approached the Lokayukta stating that Ashok Babu had wrongly claimed that he was a graduate and had mentioned in his election affidavit his pending criminal cases while the department had concluded that there were no pending cases. Meher Kumar also produced evidence to establish that Ashok Babu was engaged in political activity including campaigning for the Congress against the BJP in the Karnataka Assembly elections.

 

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COVID-19 safety breach potentially exposes Perth hospital staff to virus

COVID-19 safety breach potentially exposes Perth hospital staff to virus



COVID-19 safety breach potentially exposes Perth hospital staff to virus

Three staff members at the Royal Perth Hospital may have been exposed to coronavirus after a safety breach involving a service lift used by a COVID-19 patient.

It has been revealed the lift, used by a ship captain who was treated at the hospital last week, wasn’t properly cordoned off, exposing the staff to the potentially deadly virus.

Yesterday morning he was moved to the hospital’s intensive care unit through the service lift.

A review of hospital CCTV has now revealed three staff members who were not wearing any personal protective equipment unknowingly used that same lift within 15 minutes of the transfer.

WA Health has stressed the risk of transmission is very low, stating two of the staff members were fully vaccinated while the third has had their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

As a precaution, the three staff members have been placed in self-isolation.

A review will now be undertaken into the hospital’s procedures.

The ship’s captain remains in the hospital in a dedicated isolation ward.

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‘Worse than ever’: Australian bank culture has not improved since royal commission, staff say | Banking


The culture inside Australia’s banks has not improved in the two years since an overhaul of the scandal-prone sector was recommended by a royal commission, employees say.

In focus groups conducted for the Finance Sector Union, bank workers rejected statements from the Australian Banking Association’s chief executive, Anna Bligh, that employees were no longer being paid based on hitting sales benchmarks.

“If anything since the RC things have just gotten worse,” one worker said during the focus group sessions, a report of which has been obtained by Guardian Australia.

“The banks think that no one is watching. Since the royal commission they’re just slipping things back in and it’s now worse than ever.”

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While some workers said things were slightly better, most condemned bank bosses for continuing to run a sales-oriented culture.

A retail bank worker for one of the big four banks, who spoke to Guardian Australia separately, said the lure of bonuses for making sales, which were banned as a result of the royal commission, had been replaced by the fear of being sacked if targets were not met.

“They used to offer us a carrot, now they threaten us with a stick,” the worker said.

“They don’t call them sales anymore, they call them different things like ‘customer requirements met’. Frontline staff are always terrified of being performance managed out the door.”

The FSU’s focus group material was prepared by the union as part of a submission to a review of the ABA’s own program to reform retail banking pay.

In 2016, as part of its efforts to fend off a royal commission, the ABA commissioned former senior public servant Stephen Sedgwick to conduct the review.

Sedgwick’s final report, released in April 2017, recommended severing the direct link between sales and pay and replacing it with what the industry calls a “balanced scorecard”, where financial results are just one component that goes into determining pay.

While his review was not enough to stop the royal commission taking place in 2018, commissioner Kenneth Hayne endorsed it in his final report, saying the industry should “implement fully the recommendations of the Sedgwick review”.

Sedgwick is currently conducting a review of the implementation of his report. As part of this process he has invited submissions from industry participants, including the FSU.

However, the FSU national secretary, Julia Angrisano, said the changes had not addressed a culture of greed in the banking industry because they only affected frontline workers and bosses were still earning bonuses based on financial targets.

“If we don’t change the way pay is structured from the very top, nothing will change,” she told Guardian Australia.

She said branch workers such as tellers were trying to sell products “because they were getting smashed from above”.

The change from explicit sales targets to balanced scorecards had not reduced the pressure to sell, she said.

“Before everyone knew what it was, it was a sales target.

“Now there’s all this trickery.”

In the FSU’s focus groups, rank-and-file workers also raised concerns about the continued existence of leaderboards to track sales, which Sedgwick criticised.

Leaderboards should only be used if they were “consistent with the intention to de-emphasise sales relative to ethical behaviour and customer outcomes”, he said in his 2017 report.

But workers in the FSU focus groups said leaderboards were still rife and still focused on sales.

“Leader boards still 100% exist,” one worker said. “I’ve seen them with my own eyes. They are lying through their teeth when they say they don’t have leader boards.”

Workers also raised concerns that banks expected them to continue to hit sales targets during last year’s coronavirus shutdown.

The bank employee who spoke to Guardian Australia said that despite a big turnover in executive management since the royal commission, bank bosses were still not listening to rank-and-file staff.

“They all say we’re going to clean up the culture, yeah right. Nothing has changed.”

An ABA spokesman said that banks were “committed to improving culture and remuneration arrangements”.

“The current Sedgwick review is an important opportunity to take stock of the progress made so far,” he said.

“In recent months, Prof Sedgwick has been conducting staff surveys to inform his review. He’s also been meeting with the Finance Sector Union and regulators before delivering his final report.”

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Why giving staff the title of “leader” is a good idea for your business


I have experienced firsthand how having a leader who deserves their title has been essential to the success of my business. One who can keep the team motivated and succeed in whatever action they were carrying out. Where the team would excel because they were being led by a leader who had earned their title, one who always led by example.

Be aware though the person you give the title of leader can make or shake your business. Therefore, great consideration should first be given before selecting someone for this title. Be sure exactly why you have chosen them; they must deserve it; they must be grateful for the opportunity and respect the honour that comes with having the title.

Many years ago, I worked in a corporate company where the role of leader was used as a power position, relationships came into play with who got promotions, preferred duties, higher wages, and other privileges depending on their relationship with the “leader and their title”. The work environment was one of untrust and despair, it did not matter what you produced in your workload, it was more important your social status with the leader as to how far you may go. At the time I really did not understand how wrong this misuse of power was, today I do.

You will know who to pick as your leader, they should be someone who follows all the rules, works smart, positive, has great communication skills, and is respected by their peers and most of all respects you, if you do not have that person, do not settle for less, try to find them or help someone become them.

Here are my four reasons why I think having a leader is a good one:

  1. To help steer your team toward success
    Having someone who has reason to uphold the standard you expect from all your team members. Who wants to be successful, not for power but because they have pride in what they are doing?
  2. Recognition and Reward for being an outstanding employee
    Some people do not want more than recognition from you to let them know you appreciate them and their efforts. Giving them a title of leader does this. It is giving them a reward for a job well done.
  3. They will take more ownership of their work
    When staff know they are appreciated by you they will endeavour to take on more ownership of their workplace. They will see their position as more than just a job.
  4. Help others grow
    If you have many employees, you may not have time to work with each of them and help them to grow and become better employees. When you give someone the title of leader, they will be able to help you to do this.

Over the years, the most success we have had with leaders is when we have had more than one at any given time, we spread them out, so we are covering most of our opening hours by having a leader present, someone who will always have our business in their mind and goes the extra mile to make sure things are being done right.

Marie Temby, author of “Simple Soulful Successful



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Two men for every woman on staff at country’s largest council, data shows


By Matt Dennien

Women make up only one-third of the workforce of Brisbane City Council and are paid less than their male counterparts in all but one division, data released by Australia’s largest local government shows.

The council said that, overall, women are paid more on average than men but when the figures are broken down, that is true in only one division/department.

One governance and gender expert has described the figures as surprising, with a peak sector body suggesting the rare insight shows how much work is needed across the sector.

More than 8600 council employees carry out the day-to-day work of Brisbane’s local government, which boasts a $3 billion annual budget and the largest pool of residents among councils nationwide.

The council insists there is no gender pay gap, with the average annual earnings of a female employee totalling $75,012 compared with $69,020 for men, according to data provided in a question on notice last month. But women account only for little more than 2900 of the council’s staff. Men make up the remaining 5735.

Brisbane Infrastructure’s workforce — the only one among six divisions that women earn more on average — has almost four men for every woman. Among Transport for Brisbane staff, the second-largest cohort, there are about seven.

In smaller divisions spanning community services and administration, the balance swings back towards women. City Planning and Development staff are almost at parity.

At the neighbouring Moreton Bay Regional Council, 41 per cent of its 1900 staff are women, with similar divisional splits. Women make up 44 per cent of Ipswich City Council’s workforce and 48 per cent at Logan City Council.

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Darwin businesses hunt for staff before tourists arrive for dry season


One year on from the mass closure of hospitality businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic, some Darwin venues are facing an odd problem: They’re too busy.

With Australia’s border still closed, migrants and travellers have not taken up their usual jobs to fill the gaps in rosters ahead of the peak dry season.

Many people believe this dry season will be a make-or-break moment for many NT businesses.

Like every other restaurant in Australia, Darren Lynch and wife Pina Somerville shut the doors of their 300-capacity Wharf One restaurant a year ago today in response to federal government orders in a bid to curb COVID-19 cases.

Between Wharf One and their other businesses they had 100 staff on the books.

Pina Somerville says the pasta machine has been working overtime to keep up with demand.(

ABC Radio Darwin: Conor Byrne

)

Pivot business

While many restaurants turned to takeaway, the couple brainstormed and had an idea 20 minutes later.

They had already been making pasta in-house, and supermarkets had just sold out.

Their pasta maker has been running overtime ever since.

“A lot of the team got on board and they ate a lot of pasta testing,” Ms Somerville said.

They soon had their new pasta brand on the shelves of local corner stores and they were distributing it on a borrowed scooter.

The idea evolved into the Bella Fresh Pasta restaurant and three other shopfronts.

Man smiling wearing a buoyancy aid standing on a dock beside a fleet of jetskis.
Darwin entrepreneur Darren Lynch has branched out into jet ski tours.(

ABC Radio Darwin: Conor Byrne

)

Harbour from another angle

Mr Lynch also embarked on his passion project and began jetski tours of the harbour.

“There’s Darwin people not leaving town to go to Bali or other places,” he said.

“Now we’re gearing up for the interstaters to come up this dry season.”

Business is booming and the bank manager is happy, but the couple are down about 20 staff for the busy tourist season.

“It means we have to look at our structure,” Ms Somerville said.

Begging friends to work

Also suffering are the owners of Moorish Cafe, Gertrude Knight and Marc Wagnon.

Despite advertising, they’re down to about eight staff after having a roster of 14.

“We’re begging friends and family to come and help, and we’re working ridiculous hours ourselves,” Ms Knight said.

“Mark and I probably work two full-time jobs.

“It’s long hours for chefs as well.

“In terms of sustaining that kind of work level and sustaining a healthy family life and mental health and general physical health, that’s a big ask for two people that are close to 50.”

Man and woman smiling sitting at a restaurant table after-hours.
Husband and wife restaurateurs Marc Wagnon and Gertrude Knight are asking friends and family to work for them because they can’t find staff.(

ABC Radio Darwin: Conor Byrne

)

They are calling for migration initiatives to bring workers to the NT, such as covering quarantine costs.

“My greatest fear is that we’re going to invite people [to the NT], they’re going to have great experiences, and then when they want to go for dinner, they’re going to be refused at every doorway that they get to, which is really, really poor service,” Ms Knight said.

The Home Affairs Department has said while hospitality workers are included in the skilled migration program, they are not on the priority list of 18 occupations in the pandemic, nor are quarantine fees covered.

NT Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade; NT Tourism and Hospitality Minister Natasha Fyles, and small Business Minister Paul Kirby were also asked if quarantine costs could be covered by the NT government, but all failed to answer that question.

How about working two jobs?

Alex Bruce, from Hospitality NT, said despite interstate campaigns, this shortage has been brewing.

“There’s absolutely a gap right now and it’s getting acute,” he said.

“We are putting together a local campaign encouraging Territorians to consider taking up a second job.”

posed headshot of man standing on a pub veranda smiling. Top button open
Alex Bruce says the staff shortage across the city is now acute.(

ABC News: Terry McDonald

)

Hotelier Michael Anthony said staff would be in more demand as more hotels reopened.

“Jobseeker has made it easier for people to stay at home than to work,” he said.

Ramada Zen Hotel assistant manager Michael Anthony
Hotelier Michael Anthony says he changed the menu to suit the staffing levels.(

ABC News: Alan Dowler

)

What are the authorities doing?

A spokesperson said the NT Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade had been involved in the following initiatives:

  • Targeting skilled and semi-skilled workers in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand.
  • JobMaker Booster to assist small businesses with hiring needs.
  • JobTrainer to provide access to courses to support young people and jobseekers.
  • The Australian Government Boosting Apprentices Commencement wage subsidy program, supporting businesses and Group Training Organisations take on new apprentices and trainees.
Natasha Fyles wearing a pink shirt.
NT Tourism and Hospitality Minister Natasha Fyles.(

ABC News

)

NT Tourism and Hospitality Minister Natasha Fyles said the government had connected international students with hospitality employers.

“We are working closely with the federal government around opportunities to attract skilled workers, international students and working holiday makers when it is safe to do so,” she said.

NT Small Business Minister Paul Kirby said an increase in job ads and low unemployment was an indicator of the economy was turning around.

“One of the challenges of a strong economy is businesses being able to find skilled staff to meet their needs,” he said.

A view of the city from the sea with sunset light reflecting off the high-rise. Yachts are moored in the foreground.
Some Darwin businesses may have dodged a bullet with COVID-19, but hard times may be on the horizon.(

Supplied: Geoff Whalan/Flickr

)

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Failed financial empire Greensill can’t pay Australian staff made redundant | Business


Greensill Capital, the Australian company that sits atop the failed financial empire controlled by former Bundaberg sugar farmer Lex Greensill, owes at least $1.75bn to creditors and can’t pay between $2m and $3m owed to staff made redundant.

The company also faces a possible additional claim from German banks of about €2bn, although administrator Matt Byrne of Grant Thornton said he had yet to verify the claim.

Because most of the Greensill group’s operations were run from London, its Australian entity, Greensill Capital, employed only 38 staff – 35 of whom were made redundant on Monday.

In a statement, Grant Thornton said it would assist the redundant employees in making a claim for their entitlements under the federal government’s Fair Entitlements Guarantee scheme, which makes payments when companies collapse without the money to meet their obligations to workers.

Administrators in Australia, the UK and Germany, where Greensill owned a bank, are now combing through the wreckage left behind by the collapse, which has thrown into doubt tens of thousands of jobs at businesses, including the Whyalla steel mill, that relied on the group for finance.

The company provided “supply chain finance” – loans to big companies so that they could pay their suppliers.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is examining the impact of Greensill’s failure on the Australian market, the regulator’s deputy chair, Karen Chester, told parliament.

“This became an incredibly risky business model,” Chester said.

She said the Greensill situation was being looked into by several different teams at Asic.

“I think it’s fair to say that at the moment our focus is on having a complete understanding of what’s happened with Greensill, working out what impact it has in the Australian market, and what we need to do, if anything, to address any concerns that we have,” she said.

Creditors of the Australian company met with Byrne on Friday morning.

Japanese venture capital group Softbank, which is heavily backed by money from Saudi Arabia, is the company’s biggest creditor, owed more than $1bn.

Credit Suisse, which ran funds that fed money into the Greensill machine, is owed about US$140m.

A Greensill family trust has also claimed to be a creditor, saying it is owed about US$60m.

Byrne is yet to decide which of the debts creditors claim to be owed should be admitted.

It is understood he told creditors that the company he controls has a claim worth about US$800m against the UK operation, which is in administration through the British arm of Grant Thornton.

Creditors were also told there would be a significant shortfall, with not enough money on hand to pay staff entitlements including redundancy payouts.

The company’s main asset is its ownership of the UK business, which was reportedly close to being sold to hedge fund Apollo before a catastrophic failure to renew insurance on $4.6bn in lending when it expired on 1 March triggered Greensill’s sudden collapse.

However, it is not clear how much, if any, value remains in the shattered business and how much of anything that can be recouped would flow back to Australian creditors.

Greeensill Capital also owns Earnd, a fintech that allows employees early access to their pay, which it is understood Byrne will attempt to sell.

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Over half of staff go back to workplace in last week


More than half of the country’s employees travelled to work last week for the first time since official figures began being recorded last June.

The Office for National Statistics reported that 53 per cent of workers travelled to their place of employment at least once during the week to March 14, up from 48 per cent the week before.

The findings suggest that people began returning to the workplace after schools reopened in England on March 8. With the country still in lockdown, official advice is that people should continue to work from home if possible.

Despite the drift back to the office, new habits appear likely to remain a permanent feature of the economy after the pandemic is over. A report by the Bank of England suggests that 34 per cent of the workforce will continue working one day a week from home.

The Bank’s decision-maker panel of 8,000 chief financial officers said that 49 per cent of workers were at home one day a week last month, compared with 14 per cent before the pandemic. Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, said this week: “I would be very surprised if things went back to how they were before Covid. For many people there will be more of a hybrid model of working from home and working in a place of work.”

While some companies plan to cut office space — including Aviva, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Lloyds Bank and Metro Bank — others are keen for workers to return as soon as possible.

David Solomon, chief executive at Goldman Sachs, told the bank’s 41,000 employees this month that they should all be back in the office by the end of summer. He called remote working an “aberration that we are going to correct as quickly as possible. This is not ideal for us and it’s not a new normal.”

Jamie Dimon, boss of JP Morgan, said last year that productivity was slipping on Mondays and Fridays. He also expressed concerns about the damage for graduate trainees and new starters.

“There are a lot of people who have been hired into our companies who have never been into our company,” he said at a conference in October. “How do you build a culture and character? How are you going to learn properly?”

Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank, said people were having fewer conversations that spur new ideas and that virtual discussions did not build trust and relationships in the same way. “These losses will grow with time,” he said. “At some point, they will offset the benefits of avoiding South West Trains.”



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NBA adds freedoms for fully vaccinated players, staff




FILE PHOTO: An NBA logo is seen on a chair at an NBA exhibition in Beijing, China October 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

March 19, 2021

NBA players and staff who become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are being granted freedoms from quarantine, permitted to host family and friends, and allowed to dine outdoors at restaurants.

In a release issued Thursday, the NBA outlined changes to its health and safety protocol related to the coronavirus pandemic. The new rules would go into full effect for individuals two weeks after a final dose of the vaccine is received.

The changes include the lifting of mask requirements in practice, eliminating quarantine following exposure to COVID-19, allowing visitors at home or on the road without testing, and scheduling in-person sponsorship and marketing events.

Players and staff who receive the required doses of the COVID-19 vaccine also can work with a trainer or therapist — who also must be fully vaccinated — and no longer must submit to daily point-of-care testing.

The league announcement comes as additional teams are clearing the way for fans to return to arenas.

On Thursday, the Nuggets confirmed fans could attend home games in Denver as of April 2.

–Field Level Media




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