UNISON recognition by Defra

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2022 Water, Environment & Transport Conference
21 February 2022

A number of posts within the Environment Agency have been transferred to the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) over the past few years. Also, some new Environment Agency vacancies are advertised as Defra posts.

UNISON has strong representation on behalf of our members in the Environment Agency.

1)We are entitled to elect representatives to the Water, Environment and Transport Service Group to speak up on behalf of our members.

2)Our Environment Agency Sector Group brings together our Environment Agency branches to decide policy and appoints representatives to negotiate with EA Management at our National Negotiating Group.

3)Our strong UNISON branches within the Environment Agency work hard on behalf of our members. We negotiate, on their behalf, with EA management at national, regional, and local levels. We defend our members in disciplinary, grievance, bullying and harassment, discrimination cases, and on any other issues.

We do not have a full recognition agreement with Defra.

The Environment Agency Sector Group is not represented at Trade Union Side meetings with Defra management, we have to rely on PCS to negotiate on behalf of our members.

UNISON Branch Officers and Stewards cannot represent our UNISON Environment Agency employees in Defra posts if they have an issue. They must be represented by a UNISON regional officer.

As more and more Environment Agency posts become Defra employees, our Environment Agency Sector Group and our UNISON EA branches will become more undermined and weakened. Branches, indeed UNISON itself, will become irrelevant to our UNISON members within the Environment Agency.

Our past experience, regarding Environment Agency members subject to TUPE from the EA to other organisations, shows that it is essential that UNISON has full recognition in order to protect our members and their working conditions.

This motion calls on the Service Group Executive, to work with the EA Sector Committee to employ every means to achieve full recognition by Defra on behalf of our UNISON members in the Environment Agency, seeking intervention by the TUC if required.