Environment Agency Workers Deserve A Decent Pay Rise in Line with Inflation

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2023 National Water, Environment & Transport Conference
20 February 2023

2022/2023 was a year of industrial dispute across the Public Sector, partly to address the indecent pay increases. UNISON Members in the Environment Agency are not immune to this – EA members took strike action over pay for the first time, which members voted overwhelmingly for in November 2022. Since 2010 salaries in the Environment Agency have fallen by more than 20%, which means staff are effectively working one day in every five for free. UNISON is the biggest trade union in the Agency and has had a key role in pay negotiations and securing employment policies, terms and conditions which benefit both the workforce and the Agency.

Conference rejects the narrative from the government and the Bank of England Governor that pay rises for workers are the drivers for inflationary pressures. All workers in the public and private sectors deserve a pay increase to survive the cost-of-living crisis. Conference condemns the Cabinet Office policy of tight constraints on the Environment Agency’s pay remit with no flexibility to use income from other sources for pay uplift. Conference notes that private companies in the water and transport sectors have agreed pay awards of circa 7% and have adapted their business plans because of rising energy prices and the wider cost of living crisis. Furthermore, decades of cuts to the Agency funding have made it impossible to maintain a full-spectrum response to environmental pollution incidents.

Low pay awards and funding cuts hinder the Agency’s ability to retain and recruit skilled staff to carry out its environmental regulations. At the same time, poor remuneration is impacting staff morale and increased workload due to staff shortages. UNISON’s pay survey and a recent survey by the employer show that pay is the main reason people are leaving the organisation for alternative employment.

Therefore, conference condemns the 2% plus £345 pay award made by the employer to Agency staff in June 2022.

This conference therefore calls on the WET Service Group Executive working through the Environment Agency Sector Committee to:

1) Intensify the current pay campaign for the government to take their responsibilities seriously to deliver a fair wage for staff and a well-funded EA.

2) Campaign for pay increases at least in line with inflation.

3) Put pressure on the Secretary of State to allow more autonomy for the Environment Agency Management/Executive Directors Team (EDT) to determine fair pay and reward for its workers.

4) Continue to work with other recognised unions in the Agency involving/lobbying all politicians in challenging further cuts to the pay of Agency staff.