Joint Negotiations in the Environment Agency

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2009 Water & Environment Service Group Conference
4 March 2009

Conference will be aware that within our service group, there is an Environment Agency (in England and Wales) Sector Committee. Additionally, there is a formal collective bargaining mechanism that is enshrined in the framework of the National Negotiating Group (NNG). From this joint group, there is a joint agreement called the Trade Union Recognition and Procedure Agreement, signed off in June 2006. This agreement sets out the framework for joint negotiations between the employer and the trade unions across the Environment Agency, from national bargaining issues through to matters relevant at regional and local/area level.

Times have changed, however, and we, as UNISON representatives, need to ensure that such agreements on trade union recognition are sufficiently robust in order to maintain our trade union responsibilities and roles.

This Conference calls on the Executive to direct the Environment Agency Sector Committee to secure a joint review of this agreement before our next service group conference. Some elements of the agreement are simply out of date (owing to trade union mergers), but several fundamental points in the agreement ought to be subject to a full and considered joint review.

The UNISON Environment Agency Sector of the Water and Environment service group needs to build upon the emphasis of negotiation being the prime responsibility of the NNG – as stated in the Procedure – and this must entail meaningful negotiation. It is welcomed that the purpose and accountability relating to the “TU Representative Role” is outlined; it would be equally welcome for a similar outline of the purpose and accountability if the managerial role on the NNG was outlined in a similar manner. In addition, the UNISON Environment Agency Sector must work to secure parity of treatment for the chair of the NNG Trade Union Side alongside other employees to end the anomaly in terms of the Trade Union Side chair’s future employment. The current agreement states that at the close of a term of office (which could, by definition of annual election to the role, be one term of twelve months) the individual

will become a re-deployee; this does not apply to other employees at the end of a twelve month assignment role. The agreement must state that the NNG Trade Union Side chair will retain a provision to return to their substantive post and be provided with access to continuous training and development, in order to retain their capabilities.