UNISON members who protect communities during severe weather conditions will be taking part in industrial action from 12 December.
Members in the Environment Agency (EA) will take continuous action, short of strike, from that date.
The action will take the form of work to rule and includes:
- only working contracted hours;
- taking all scheduled breaks and having appropriate compensatory rest between work;
- not doing any unpaid work outside contracted hours; and
- disconnecting from work electronics outside contracted hours and during rest breaks.
UNISON is also asking members to consider withdrawing from incident rosters on the 12, 14, 16, 20 and 22 of December.
Vacancy levels across the agency are so high that services rely on the goodwill of staff to deliver vital services to protect communities and the environment from floods and pollution incidents.
UNISON national secretary for the environment Donna Rowe-Merriman said: “Staff across the environment agency have seen wages fall by over 20% as a result of over 12 years of pay austerity. The cost of living crisis is affecting the ability of staff to pay household bills and put food on the table.
“Workers have said loud and clear that enough is enough. The EA is underfunded and its staff are undervalued and underpaid. The failure to properly reward staff is leading to unprecedented vacancies – as staff vote with their feet in search of better paid jobs.
Ms Rowe-Merriman continued: “This failure to address the root cause of low pay forces the agency to pay external contractors even higher rates to fill the gaps or turn to remaining workers working overtime to provide vital services. Staff are often compelled to carry out overtime just to pay their household bills due to low pay in the EA affecting their family life”.
She concluded: “The government needs to ensure that public monies deliver decent pay for public sector workers – not inflated profits for contractors and dividends for shareholders”.