Environment Agency workers walked out today in a dispute over pay.
UNISON, the UK’s largest trade union, has called for all environment agency members covered by the Cabinet Office Pay Remit to support today’s one-day strike.
The walkout has been organised from 8am to 5pm, following ongoing pay negotiations which have ended with an offer that equates to a 2 per cent pay increase.
Greg Marshall, an Environmental Agency worker and UNISON water, environment and transport sector representative, said: “It is a hard decision for our members but after poor pay rise offers we decided to strike.
“We cannot go on like this, our members can’t afford nursery fees, heating or bills, this is why we are striking today.”
The union wants to make their voices heard, in the midst of the biggest fall in living standards on record as well as costs and bills rising.
Wages, however, have not risen to meet inflation.
“We can not go on like this, our members can’t afford nursery fees, heating or bills, this is why we are striking today.”
The Environment Agency is responsible for many things in the UK, including regulating major industries and waste, conservation and ecology, as well as water quality and resources among other things.
Andy Disney, a senior flood risk advisor at the Environment Agency in West Bridgford, said: “I’ve had no real significant pay rise in the last 12 years.
“As a result of that, our teams are getting smaller and we are finding it hard to recruit new employees.
“We are not getting the best for our communities until we get any changes.”
UNISON has highlighted that the environment agency is underfunded and workers are undervalued and underpaid.
They have encouraged the walkout as the EA has decided it cannot let the pay cut go on any longer.
Mr Marshall added: “In the future, we can see more strike days as we are trying to highlight to the public the importance of the role that we at the Environment Agency play.”
This is the first time that EA workers have ever gone on strike over pay and it was voted on by over 70 per cent of the environmental agency members of UNISON, with 92 per cent of those who took part voting for action short of a strike.
The Environment Agency has struggled to fill a large number of its vacancies, as many workers have taken the decision to leave the EA due to other organisations paying higher wages.
Environment Agency workers had a 0 per cent award last year, with the lowest paid receiving a one-off £250 uplift.
Andy Barker, an HS2 ground water worker, said: “We have been working here for a long time and my own personal pay is one thing but the retention of workers is another thing which is key as we have a whole host of environmental issues to deal with in the future.”
The picket line has received a large amount of support from locals in West Bridgford as cars have been driving past and beeping horns or shouting words of encouragement.
David Thomas Price, retired, said: “I am 92 this year and have been on many picket lines over the years as I was part of the engineering union.
“I am so glad so many people turned up today for this walkout.”
The EA will strike again if members of the union decide that more must be done to ensure better pay.