Environment Agency workers announce four-day strike as staff who work on water pollution, floods, fires and fly-tipping turn down 2 per cent pay offer
- The strike will run from 7pm on Friday April 14 to 7am on Monday April 17th
Thousands of UNISON Environment Agency workers in England are set to become the latest public body workers to take strike action for four days this month blaming government inaction for putting communities, waters and wildlife at risk.
According to UNISON, the strike action has been necessitated by the government’s refusal to invite unions for pay talks – despite months of strikes and other action where workers have taken themselves off ‘on call’ incident response rotas.
The strike action means staff working on coastal sea defences, protecting communities from floods, tackling water pollution, waste fires and fly-tipping will all leave their posts for the duration.
They will not work from 7pm next Friday (April 14) to 7am Monday morning (April 17).
The importance of the Environment Agency’s work was highlighted only last month when hundreds of workers were involved in the clean up to the Poole Harbour Oil spill.
After 200 barrels of reservoir fluid was released into the Harbour due to a leak in a pipeline at Wytch Farm oil field, taff worked tirelessly to clean the affected area and contain the spillage.
The scene of the oil leak where Environment Agency workers helped oil workers clean up the residue
Workers in a field during the clean-up operation at Ower Bay at Poole Harbour in Dorset
However, Unison said ‘endemic’ low pay means the Environment Agency (EA) is struggling to hold on to experienced staff and recruit new employees.
The longer the Government persists with its ‘do nothing’ approach to staffing problems, the worse the situation will become, the union said.
Unison said the Government’s refusal to allow the Agency to improve a pay increase of 2% plus £345 given to staff in the autumn means workers have no alternative but to ‘reluctantly’ strike again.
Emergency ‘life and limb cover’ has been agreed where there is a threat to life or property.
Unison’s head of environment, Donna Rowe-Merriman, said: ‘Every community in England needs these experienced employees to help keep their local environment safe.
‘All talk and very little action best describe the Government’s approach to environmental policy.
‘Announcements come and go, but nothing much happens to clean up England’s seas, rivers, lakes, and canals.
‘This must change. The Government needs a properly staffed Environment Agency if natural habitats and water sources are to be protected.
‘But with too few experts on its books, the Agency can’t possibly punish the polluters and keep everyone safe.
‘Therese Coffey (Environment Secretary) should stop ignoring the plight of these invaluable workers and start tackling the growing staffing problems at the Environment Agency.
‘Hourly rates are so low, some staff had to be given an emergency pay rise at the start of the week or their employer would have been in breach of minimum wage laws.
‘It’s time the Government called in the employer and the unions to settle this damaging dispute once and for all.’
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