Thousands of Environment Agency (EA) staff have voted in a consultation to overwhelmingly reject the current pay offer of 2% plus a £345 consolidated increase, together with increases to some allowances.
With inflation topping 10% and further increases on the way, the offer, together with an unconsolidated performance award, effectively represents a pay cut.
EA staff had asked for a pay increase above the rate of inflation after a 0% pay increase in 2021 and the current offer fell well short of those made to other public sector workers.
As frontline workers that protected communities and the environment throughout the pandemic, EA staff investigate and prosecute polluters, maintain our costal defenses and inland waterways, and regulate the UK’s nuclear industry and critical infrastructure such as the Thames Barrier.
UNISON national secretary for the environment Donna Rowe-Merriman said: “EA Staff across England have made clear that the current offer is simply not enough.
“This government massively undervalues the role of the agency and, as they set the pay for workers, have failed to provide sufficient funds for an offer to meet soaring inflation.
“Low pay has been a massive problem for the agency – with recruitment and retention having an impact on service delivery.”
And she continued: “Staff feel undervalued and demoralised for the key roles they deliver and now they are feeling the impacts of the cost of living crisis – with many unable to make ends meet and pay their bills and some resorting to foodbanks.
“Now is the time for the agency to step up and make the case for an increased pay offer.”