Why we must take further strike action 7/8/9 February 2023

Thank you to all our members that participated in the Strike Action on 18 January 2023. Your tremendous efforts are having an impact.

So far we have not received an improved pay offer. The Secretary of State for Defra has refused to engage with the unions to unlock the issue and find a resolution.

UNISON’s Environment Agency Sector Committee has considered that further escalation is required to seek a resolution to the dispute. Prospect has also announced escalation of its action and both unions have agreed joint action in the form of Action short of strike action and an additional strike day for the period 7/8/9 February 2023.

UNISON is now calling on ALL Environment Agency members covered by the Cabinet Office Pay Remit to support the following action:

  • Further action short of strike action – 7pm 7 February  – 7am 8 February 2023 in the form of withdrawal from Incident Response Rosters
  • One-day strike on 8 February 2023, from 7am to 7pm.
  • Further action short of strike action – 7pm 8 February  – 7am 9 February 2023 in the form of withdrawal from Incident Response Rosters

Discussions with the Agency continue – but unfortunately talking to the Agency has not yet delivered an improved offer. This strike action has been notified to the Agency. We are still seeking a dialogue with the employer to find a resolution to the dispute.

Taking strike action is never easy. Many will be concerned and have pressure on household finances. UNISON pays £50 per day to every member taking strike action and branches have hardship funds to support members when taking strike action has a significant financial impact.

We urge you to take part to send a strong message to government and the employers that they need to put forward an improved offer. The EA Pay Campaign webpage and industrial action FAQs will be regularly updated over the coming days.

Of course we regret the potential disruption, but many members of the public showed their support of the action taken 18 January 2023. as they face similar challenges of during the cost-of-living crisis.

The government can prevent disruption by enabling your employer to return to the negotiating table with a better offer.

You need to make a stand on 7/8/9 February 2023 alongside Prospect members.

A well supported strike is vital in getting the government and the employer to put forward an offer to resolve the dispute.

Please note that members whose pay is determined outside of this should NOT participate in this action.

If you are rostered to take part in Incident Response 7/8/9 February and must withdraw then you are also eligible for UNISON strike pay for the Action Short of Strike where you must withdraw from rosters due to the notice given of the next action.

UNISON webinars for EA members

To get the latest information from senior UNISON reps and officers, and for the opportunity to ask questions, make sure to sign up for our upcoming webinar, which will take place in the week before the day of strike action.

UNISON EA Pay Campaign Webinar – 26 January 2023 – Register here

UNISON General Secretary Christina McAnea has written AGAIN to the DEFRA Secretary of State seeking a meeting to resolve the dispute within the EA and discussions and engagement with the agency at local level are taking place.

The issue remains that the UK Government pay remit does not adequately reward staff financially during the current cost of living crisis – and we see members of staff reliant upon Universal Credit and in some cases food banks to make ends meet. The Secretary of State has the power to enable the Agency to re-enter into negotiations. So far – we have had no response – and frankly this is a snub to the workers of the Environment Agency. We know you are worth so much more – certainly worth the time of the Secretary of State to try and support a resolution to prevent further disruption.

You can quickly and easily contact your MP to make the case that the current arrangements around Environment Agency pay are unacceptable, and lobby them to use their influence to seek a better deal for EA workers, using UNISON’s online tool. It takes less than one minute to complete, and only needs a few pieces of information to create a customised email to your Member of Parliament.

Click here to use UNISON’s online tool to lobby your MP on EA pay

The time to take strike action is NOW

Taking any form of industrial action is a last resort and reaching this decision has not been taken lightly. We have been campaigning and negotiating with the employer for over 10 months on this issue.

Members do not have to inform managers whether you are participating in any form of industrial action. If you feel under any pressure to respond, please contact your local UNISON branch and we will escalate this matter.

The reason EA staff face financial problems is because of the real terms pay cuts that have taken place for over a decade. This means you are now working at least one day a week ‘for free’ as your wages have not kept up with inflation since 2010.

Find out the impact on your salary here using UNISON’s salary loss calculator. This also includes what the pay award for 202/23 looks like on your hourly rate of pay.

UNISON understands that it can be financially difficult to take any form of strike action, but our members are all in this together and our branches will support members in financial hardship.  By not working outside of your contracted hours you are showing your employer the level of goodwill and working for free that you deliver every day to keep the EA going.

The reason staff face financial problems is because of real terms pay cuts meaning you are now working one day a week ‘for free’ as your wages have not kept up with inflation since 2010. Many staff saw their pay frozen in 2021/22.

You contribute to protecting our environment and communities, and you should be fairly rewarded for contributing to that success.

UNISON branches can use their Industrial Action Funds to support members who face hardship because of taking industrial action. Details of how to access support can be obtained from your local branch secretary.

UNISON can also provide support via “There for You” for members. For more information contact us on 08000 857 857 or email thereforyou@unison.co.uk or contact your branch welfare officer.

For any of your colleagues who are not members of UNISON, if they join now they will be eligible to take part in this action and also any future strike days if they sign up before or during any action, including on the day of any strike. The quickest way of joining is to fill in a form from your branch or online at: join.unison.org.uk

We must show the employers our strength of feeling

The message that rings loud and clear is… ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

The Agency is UNDERFUNDED, the work you do is UNDERVALUED and you are UNDERPAID.

UNISON and Prospect are both taking industrial action and working together. We hope GMB members will be joining us shortly when their balloting procedures are concluded.

All union members feel equally strongly about the pay issue.

UNISON believes that there should be a fair deal for EA staff available that mirrors that of other public sector workers delivering frontline emergency services, and we ask you to show your support by taking strike action short of strike action when called to do so, to get a better pay offer.

Industrial action FAQs

An updated FAQs document on a range of issues related to the pay dispute and taking industrial action both in the form of strike action and action short of a strike. This updated document can be downloaded here.

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