In all of our communities, UNISON members work tirelessly to provide public services. Often unseen, it’s our people who keep our country going. That’s certainly the case for the vital workers in the Environment Agency. They have the vital roles of protecting towns and villages up and down the country from flooding, and preventing environmental pollution.
Yet since 2010, they’ve faced 20% real terms pay cuts as a result of the government’s disastrous pay policy – similar to so many others across the public sector. Now, despite lofty claims from the government that “austerity is over” they’re still being offered a measly 1.3% rise – less than the 1.5% which is the going rate under government pay policy. Unsurprisingly, they voted overwhelmingly (by a margin of 9 to 1) to reject the offer.
Worse still, we know that it’s possible for those working in the sector to get better pay offers. Their colleagues doing the exact same job in Scotland, at the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, have accepted an offer of 3% for the low paid, 2% for high earners.
Despite this, the Environment Agency have refused to make a better offer – or even to reopen talks. Instead, they immediately moved to impose their offer on the very workers they rely on each day.
That’s why – starting today – we’re balloting our Environment Agency members on industrial action. Our members are dedicated and hard-working and devoted to their jobs, keeping us all safe. They feel – with much justification – that the Agency has taken advantage of this dedication. It’s time for the Agency’s independent board to step up, restart talks and make sure that this dedicated group of public servants get the settlement that their work merits.