uk, april, and strike day 14
This weekend, thousands of Environment Agency employees in England will walk off the job in a long-running pay dispute.
Unison claimed that the walkout, which will take place from 7 p.m. on Friday, April 14, to 7 a.m. on Monday, April 17, will endanger local communities, waters, and wildlife.
The strike, which started last year, was described by the union as a “significant escalation” of industrial action.
Union members who work on coastal sea defenses, safeguard communities from flooding, and combat water pollution, waste fires, and fly-tipping will participate in the most recent strike.
Despite months of strikes and other forms of industrial action, Unison charged the government with failing to make any effort to hold talks to resolve the conflict.
The union claimed that “endemic” low pay makes it difficult for the Environment Agency (EA) to retain experienced staff and hire new hires. Workers have no choice but to “reluctantly” go on strike once more as a result of the government’s refusal to permit the Agency to improve the 2% plus £345 pay increase that was given to employees in the fall.
The union added that as long as the government continues to “do nothing” about its staffing issues, the situation will only get worse.
In order for the agency to pay its employees “fairly,” Unison has written to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt pleading with him to step in and resolve the conflict by releasing more funds. Therese Coffey, the secretary of the environment, is also being urged to meet with unions to discuss pay.
The damaging argument might go on for months.
The wage dispute has been going on “far too long,” according to Christina McAnea, general secretary of Unison, and it is “in everyone’s interests” to “find the extra funding to secure essential services and hammer out a deal.”
Without government intervention, the damaging dispute over this pitiful wage increase, she warned, “could drag on for months.” Staff would become even more dissatisfied as a result, and communities at risk would lack adequate security.
Many of the lowest paid employees at the agency have left in search of higher paying jobs elsewhere due to the agency’s uncompetitive pay. Others in specialised technical roles are also moving on to new positions where they believe their abilities will be more fully appreciated and their experience will be more highly regarded.
This is not the time to leave the agency understaffed, she continued, as environmental damage and rising pollution levels are receiving greater attention than ever before.
The government “needs a properly staffed Environment Agency if natural habitats and water sources are to be protected,” according to Donna Rowe-Merriman, the head of Unison’s environmental department.
Every community in England needs these seasoned workers to help maintain the safety of their neighbourhood, she continued. The way the government approaches environmental policy is best described as being all talk and little action. The seas, rivers, lakes, and canals of England are not cleaned up much despite announcements that come and go. This has to alter.
The Environment Agency (EA) is “meeting regularly with unions to have conversations about pay, conditions, and reform,” according to a Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) spokesperson.
“As a public sector organisation, the Environment Agency remains bound by the pay policy of the government of the day,” a spokesperson for the agency said. “We have plans in place to minimise disruption to our essential work to protect the environment and respond to critical incidents.”