Environment Agency staff start to vote on possible strike over pay, says UNISON 

Staff voted to reject a pay offer of 2% and an additional £345.

Environment Agency staff are being asked to vote for industrial action in a ballot that could see the first strike over pay in the organisation’s 26-year history, says UNISON today (Monday).

A strike ballot of several thousand Agency employees across England – including river inspectors, flood forecasting officers, coastal risk management officers, sewage plant attendants and staff maintaining the Thames Barrier – opens today. The vote closes in a month’s time.

Earlier in the year, Environment Agency staff voted to reject a pay offer of 2% and an additional £345. This is substantially less than the lowest measure of inflation – currently 9.9% – and simply isn’t enough, says UNISON.

The latest offer follows years of no wage increases, or rises significantly below the cost of living, and has proved the final straw for the Agency’s employees, adds the union.

UNISON says low wages have led to large numbers of staff quitting the UK’s key environmental regulator. The Agency has struggled to fill vacancies, which has put the remaining workforce under intolerable pressure, says UNISON.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Environment Agency employees love their jobs. But harsh government budget cuts means it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to do their work.

“Staff are no longer prepared to accept such poor treatment at the hands of ministers. It’s high time the government showed it values the important work they do, and increased funding to the Agency so all employees can get a decent wage rise.

“The staff work tirelessly to protect us all. They do crucial jobs protecting the environment, clearing up pollution spills, maintaining coastal defences, managing flooding risks and supporting affected communities. They deserve much better.”

Aside from UNISON, there are three unions – GMB, Prospect and Unite – representing Environment Agency workers. Other unions are expected to commence strike ballots soon.

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk