Environment Agency workers on strike in longstanding dispute over wages

Thousands of Environment Agency workers will go on strike for four days later this month in a long-running dispute over wages.

Unison said its members in England will withdraw from 7pm April 14 to 7am April 17, adding that communities, waters and wildlife will be at risk.

Unison accused the government of making no attempt to hold talks to resolve the dispute, despite months of strikes and other forms of industrial action.

The most recent strike will involve union members working on coastal sea defenses, protecting communities from flooding, tackling water pollution, waste fires and garbage dumps.

Unison said “endemic” low wages mean the Environment Agency (EA) is struggling to retain experienced staff and recruit new employees.

The longer the government persists with its “do nothing” approach to personnel problems, the worse the situation will be, the union said.

Unison said the government’s refusal to allow the Agency to improve on a 2% pay increase plus £345 given to staff in the autumn means workers have no choice but to strike again “reluctantly”.

Emergency “life and limb cover” has been arranged when 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 words and very little action best describe the Government’s approach to environmental policy. Advertisements come and go, but not much is happening 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 punish 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 that some employees had to receive an emergency raise at the start of the week or their employer would have violated minimum wage laws.

“It is time for the Government to call on employers and unions to resolve this harmful dispute once and for all.”


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