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Environment Agency staff to work to rule in row over pay

Environment Agency staff to work to rule in row over pay

Thousands of Environment Agency workers in England are to take industrial action in the coming weeks, including stopping attending incidents such as floods, water pollution, spills, waste fires and fly-tipping.

Members of the Unison union will be working to rule from Monday on different days up to and over Christmas in a dispute over pay.

This means they will only work their contracted hours, taking all scheduled breaks and rest in full between shifts, and will not accept any unpaid work at this busy time of year for the agency.

In addition, employees will refuse to volunteer for “on call” cover for several days.

Unison said high vacancy levels at the agency are piling extra pressure on staff.

Wages have fallen behind rising costs for many years and this year workers were offered a 2% rise plus a £345 payment, said the union.

Where there is a threat to life from incidents such as a major flood, officers will step in as emergency “life and limb cover” has been agreed.

Unison’s head of environment Donna Rowe-Merriman said: “Staff are proud to play a vital role in keeping communities safe, but feel constantly taken for granted by a Government that has persistently failed to invest in the Environment Agency.

“Wages there have been held down for years, prompting many experienced workers to quit for better paid work elsewhere. But as more leave, the pressures increase on those staff left behind. And so it goes on.

“Severe weather and concerns about pollution mean the agency’s work is more important now than ever. But the blame for any disruption must be laid solely at the Government’s door.

“The solution is a wage rise that’s a better match for inflation. Otherwise, staff will continue to resign, leaving even fewer that can be called upon in emergencies. The consequences for people living in areas prone to flooding are unthinkable.”

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We have plans in place to minimise any disruption to our essential work to protect the environment and respond to incidents.

“As a public-sector organisation, the Environment Agency remains bound by the pay policy of the government of the day.”

Content provided by Radio NewsHub. Originally published on 2022-12-12 04:53:00.

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