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Cairns: Quango wind-up hits Welsh economy

Speech to the National Assembly for Wales.

"I wish to highlight the dreadful effects that the Minister's decisions have had on the Welsh Development Agency, and their impact in influencing the Welsh economy.

It is useful that the Minister highlighted the consultation with the unions. I have in front of me a letter to disprove the first claim that he made in his statement that there was no consultation under the former chief executive's reorganisation plan. It is a letter from Prospect, which reads:

'I am advised by our lay office that Prospect's WDA branch were involved in the ODD exercise promoted by Graham Hawker, the former chief executive of the WDA'.

Therefore, clearly, the Minister's claim is inaccurate.

The whole process followed by the Minister is steeped in dogma and an arrogance that has not been seen for many years in Wales.

It is worth reminding ourselves of the series of events. It started with the announcement last year that the agency would be wound up.

The chief executive, whom the Minister had previously praised and recognised for his efforts, resigned.

The First Minister asked the chief executive on television to reconsider. When he refused, he then became the reason why the agency should be wound up.

There was then a scramble to give the Minister's own man the post. The Nolan principles were thrown out of the window, and the Minister urged the board to appoint Gareth Hall.

I am grateful for your support, Dirprwy Lywydd, because the Chairman of the Economic Development and Transport Committee thought that those words were questionable. I am glad that you have now clarified that I was also not out of order in the committee some weeks ago when I said that the acting chief executive of the WDA is the Minister's own man.

The chairman of the board then became the Minister's closest ally, although their relationship until a year ago was somewhat cool to say the least.

Having taken the major decision to wind-up the agency, they then decided to consult. When questioned about the pension deficit, they had to admit that there was a £40 million pension deficit and that there was no solution.

Following consultation, they ploughed ahead claiming that there would be £10 million in savings, although they cannot show where they will come from.

There are still no answers on the pensions front. At the same time, one of the most talented members of the board, David Williams, chose to leave, citing reasons other than the merger, but we all know, having spoken to close contacts and allies, the reason why he left.

He was followed by the highly regarded director of the international division, Hilary Hendy.

Staff morale plummeted, and statements that were originally included in the annual staff survey, such as 'I believe that the merger offers better opportunities', and 'I feel optimistic about the merger', which staff had to either agree or disagree with, were cut out because they feared the outcome.

The true attitude can be found expressed in the open comments section, where comments such as 'scrap the merger' are commonplace, and many support the sentiments of those who stated: 'I am demotivated.

People say "business as usual", but it is difficult, to be honest', and 'I am truly sorry that such a great organisation and a wonderful employer will cease to exist in April 2006'.

In response to Jeff Cuthbert and Carl Sargeant, the evidence is here.

The evidence is here. That is how demotivated and demoralised the staff are. If you choose to ignore that, it is quite obviously a problem for the Minister.

Despite such low morale, the Minister continues to denigrate the WDA and its staff. He obviously does not realise that because the WDA is a service organisation, its value lies in its employees and their skills and knowledge.

I am also privileged to have had many conversations before and after this event with many of Hilary Hendy's close colleagues, who support what I have said.

In relation to her departure, will the Minister tell us whether she was made redundant or whether she was sacked?

If she was made redundant, why was her post then filled by Mike King shortly after she left?

It is clear to anyone that the majority of staff are considering leaving: 45 per cent, according to the staff survey.

The Minister's citing of low staff turnover as showing that morale is high only confirms his lack of understanding of the situation. Staff will obviously wait for any redundancy package.

It is no wonder that Wales has dropped from first to ninth in the inward investment league table. On top of this, the Minister then announced a due diligence investigation into the WDA, without reference to the chairman with whom he was so closely involved 12 months ago.

The Minister's inconsistency is breathtaking. He cannot have it both ways—he either accepts a large part of the blame because his own man was at the helm for so long, or he has not properly fulfilled his responsibility as the Minister responsible for the agency.

He criticised the WDA for not following Government priorities, but halfway through the Pathways to Prosperity programme, he cut that budget by £30 million after having agreed it in the agency's business plan.

It is clear that the Minister is not meeting his obligation to the staff or to the Welsh economy. I have a long list of questions for him to answer, one of which is: how will the WDA fulfil its obligations overseas when the home civil service does not allow it to employ foreign nationals?

It will probably employ more consultants, which goes against bringing the WDA into the civil service."

"Hoffwn bwysleisio'r effeithiau ofnadwy y mae penderfyniadau'r Gweinidog wedi eu cael ar Awdurdod Datblygu Cymru, a'u heffaith wrth ddylanwadu ar economi Cymru.

Mae'n ddefnyddiol bod y Gweinidog wedi sôn am yr ymgynghoriad â'r undebau. Mae gennyf lythyr i wrthbrofi'r honiad cyntaf a wnaeth yn ei ddatganiad na fu unrhyw ymgynghoriad o dan gynllun ad-drefnu'r cyn brif weithredwr.

Llythyr ydyw gan Prospect, sy'n dweud: Fe'm hysbysir gan ein swyddfa leyg i gangen WDA Prospect fod yn rhan o'r ymarfer ODD a hyrwyddwyd gan Graham Hawker, cyn brif weithredwr y WDA.

Felly, yn amlwg, mae honiad y Gweinidog yn anghywir.

Mae'r broses gyfan a ddilynir gan y Gweinidog yn llawn dogma a haerllugrwydd nas gwelwyd ers blynyddoedd lawer yng Nghymru.

Mae'n werth atgoffa ein hunain o'r gyfres o ddigwyddiadau. Dechreuodd gyda'r cyhoeddiad y llynedd y byddai'r awdurdod yn cael ei dirwyn i ben.

Ymddiswyddodd y prif weithredwr, yr oedd y Gweinidog wedi ei ganmol o'r blaen ac wedi ei gydnabod am ei ymdrechion.

Ar deledu, gofynnodd y Prif Weinidog i'r prif weithredwr ailystyried. Pan wrthododd, daeth ef yn rheswm wedyn dros ddirwyn yr awdurdod i ben.

Yna bu ymgiprys am roi'r swydd i ddyn y Gweinidog ei hun. Diystyriwyd egwyddorion Nolan ac anogodd y Gweinidog y bwrdd i benodi Gareth Hall.

Yr wyf yn ddiolchgar ichi am eich cefnogaeth, Ddirprwy Lywydd, oherwydd yr oedd Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor Datblygu Economaidd a Thrafnidiaeth o'r farn bod y geiriau hynny yn amheus.

Yr wyf yn falch eich bod wedi egluro nad oeddwn allan o drefn ychwaith yn y pwyllgor rai wythnosau yn ôl pan ddywedais mai dyn y Gweinidog ei hun yw prif weithredwr dros dro y WDA.

Yna daeth cadeirydd y bwrdd yn gyfaill agosaf y Gweinidog, er bod eu perthynas tan tua blwyddyn yn ôl ychydig yn oeraidd a dweud y lleiaf.

Ar ôl cymryd y penderfyniad mawr i ddirwyn yr awdurdod i ben, maent wedyn yn penderfynu ymgynghori.

Pan holwyd am y diffyg o ran pensiynau, bu'n rhaid iddynt gyfaddef bod diffyg o £40 miliwn mewn pensiynau ac nad oedd unrhyw ateb.

Yn dilyn ymgynghoriad, bu iddynt fwrw ati gan honni y byddai £10 miliwn o arbedion, er na allant ddangos o ble y daw'r arbedion hynny.

Nid oes atebion o hyd o ran problem y pensiynau. Ar yr un pryd, dewisodd un o aelodau mwyaf talentog y bwrdd, David Williams, adael, gan nodi rhesymau heblaw'r uno, ond gwyr pob un ohonom, ar ôl siarad â chysylltiadau agos a chyfeillion, y rheswm iddo adael.

Fe'i dilynwyd gan gyfarwyddwr uchel ei pharch yr isadran ryngwladol, Hilary Hendy.

Syrthiodd morâl staff, a chafodd datganiadau a gynhwyswyd yn wreiddiol yn yr arolwg staff blynyddol, megis

Credaf fod yr uno yn cynnig gwell cyfleoedd ac Yr wyf yn teimlo'n optimistaidd ynglyn â'r uno, yr oedd yn rhaid i staff naill ai gytuno neu anghytuno â hwy, eu dileu oherwydd yr oeddent yn pryderu am y canlyniad.

Gall yr agwedd wirioneddol gael ei mynegi yn yr adran sylwadau agored, lle y mae sylwadau megis 'dileu'r uno' yn gyffredin, ac mae llawer yn cefnogi teimladau'r rhai a nododd:

Yr wyf wedi colli cymhelliant.

Dywed pobl "busnes fel arfer", ond mae'n anodd, a dweud y gwir', ac Yr wyf yn wirioneddol flin bod sefydliad mor fawr a chyflogwr mor wych yn mynd i beidio â bod ym mis Ebrill 2006'.

Mewn ymateb i Jeff Cuthbert a Carl Sargeant, mae'r dystiolaeth yma.

Mae'r dystiolaeth yma. Mae hynny'n dangos bod y staff wedi colli cymhelliant ac wedi digalonni. Os dewiswch anwybyddu hynny, mae'n amlwg yn broblem i'r Gweinidog.

Er gwaethaf morâl mor isel, mae'r Gweinidog yn parhau i ddifrïo'r WDA a'i staff. Yn amlwg, nid yw'n sylweddoli hynny oherwydd mae'r WDA yn sefydliad gwasanaeth, ei gyflogeion a'u sgiliau a'u gwybodaeth yw ei gryfder.

Cefais innau y fraint hefyd o gael sawl trafodaeth cyn ac ar ôl y digwyddiad hwn gyda llawer o gydweithwyr agos Hilary Hendy, sy'n ategu'r hyn a ddywedais. O ran ei hymadawiad, a wnaiff y Gweinidog ddweud wrthym ai colli ei swydd a wnaeth neu a gafodd ei diswyddo?

Os colli ei swydd a wnaeth, pam y cafodd ei swydd ei llenwi'n fuan ar ôl iddi adael gan Mike King?

Mae'n glir i unrhyw un bod y mwyafrif o staff yn ystyried gadael: 45 y cant, yn ôl yr arolwg staff.

Mae'r ffaith bod y Gweinidog yn nodi mai'r rheswm dros drosiant staff isel yw bod morâl yn uchel yn cadarnhau ei ddiffyg dealltwriaeth o'r sefyllfa.

Bydd staff yn amlwg yn aros am unrhyw becyn colli swydd. Nid yw'n syndod bod Cymru wedi gostwng o'r safle cyntaf i'r nawfed safle yn y tabl cynghrair mewnfuddsoddi.

Ar ben hyn, cyhoeddodd y Gweinidog wedyn ymchwiliad diwydrwydd dyledus i'r WDA, heb gyfeirio at y cadeirydd yr oedd mor agos ato 12 mis yn ôl.

Mae anghysondeb y Gweinidog yn drawiadol. Nid yw'n bosibl iddo ei chael hi bob ffordd—mae naill ai'n derbyn rhan fawr o'r bai gan mai ei ddyn ef oedd wrth y llyw am gyhyd, neu nid yw wedi cyflawni ei gyfrifoldeb yn gywir fel y Gweinidog sy'n gyfrifol am yr awdurdod.

Beirniadodd y WDA am beidio â dilyn blaenoriaethau'r Llywodraeth, ond hanner ffordd drwy'r rhaglen Ffordd i Ffyniant, torrodd y gyllideb honno £30 miliwn ar ôl cytuno arni yng nghynllun busnes yr awdurdod.

Mae'n glir nad yw'r Gweinidog yn cyflawni ei ddyletswydd i'r staff nac i economi Cymru. Mae gennyf restr hir o gwestiynau iddo eu hateb, ac un ohonynt yw: sut y bydd y WDA yn cyflawni ei ddyletswydd dramor pan nad yw'r gwasanaeth sifil cartref yn caniatáu iddo gyflogi tramorwyr?

Mae'n siwr y bydd yn cyflogi mwy o ymgynghorwyr, sy'n groes i'r penderfyniad i gynnwys y WDA yn y gwasanaeth sifil."

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