Environment Agency workers to strike on 8 February


Thousands of Environment Agency employees belonging to the UNISON and Prospect unions are to take strike action Wednesday (8 February) as part of a growing dispute over pay.

Staff working in river inspection, flood forecasting, coastal risk management and pollution control will stage a 12-hour strike on Wednesday (8 February) starting at 7 am.

In addition, for 12 hours on either side of the walkout, Environment Agency employees will escalate their ongoing work to rule by withdrawing from incident response rotas, say the unions.

This action, which is short of a strike starts, at 7 pm on Tuesday (7 February), and kicks in again immediately at the end of the strike for another 12 hours, concluding at 7 am on Thursday (9 February).

During these hours, there’ll be fewer experienced Environment Agency staff to provide cover if an incident occurs, say the unions.

However, the unions say that where there’s a “genuine threat” to life or property from something like a major flood, officers will step in as emergency “life and limb cover” has been agreed with Agency managers.

The government must act now to get talks in motion that could prevent further escalation.

Environment Agency staff belonging to UNISON took strike action on 18 January and now, their colleagues who are in Prospect will join them for a first joint strike.

Environment Agency employees got a 2% pay rise (plus £345) this year but the unions say that in 2021/22 most staff received nothing. Overall, their wages have fallen by more than 20% in real terms since 2010, say the unions.

Commenting on the industrial action, UNISON head of environment Donna Rowe-Merriman, said: “Communities across England are kept safe because of the tireless efforts of Environment Agency workers.

“Staff shortages and persistent underfunding have left the Agency in a difficult place, without the employees to meet the growing challenges posed by climate change.

“Not a single Environment Agency worker wants to take action but the government’s failure to find a solution has left them with no other option but to walk out again next month.

“It’s in everyone’s best interests that a solution is found quickly. The government must act now to get talks in motion that could prevent further escalation.”

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