The government has capped this year’s pay increase for Environment Agency (EA staff) to a maximum 3%, on the same day that unions, including UNISON, submitted a 10% pay claim on behalf of members.
The Cabinet Office published the 2022/23 civil service pay remit guidance last week, which sets out the Treasury’s pay policy for the coming year and binds the hands of a number of government departments and agencies on pay.
It has instructed departments – including the EA – that they can make average pay awards of up to 2% this year, or up to 3% if a special need can be demonstrated, such as easing recruitment and retention issues.
In response, UNISON national secretary for business, community and environment, Donna Rowe-Merriman said: “Following over 10 years of pay restraint, which has seen the value of Environment Agency wages drop in real terms by 21%, and with the cost-of-living crisis biting into pay packets, yet another below-inflation pay award is woefully inadequate for our members.”
Hard-working members who protect our environment
The unions’ fully-evidenced claim seeks a real-terms pay increase that recognises the increased demands that the EA has made of staff over the last 12 months, and notes the fact that the large majority of staff received no consolidated award last year, due to the public sector pay freeze.
Ms Rowe-Merriman continued: “Inflation rates are at their highest levels in decades, national insurance has increased and energy costs are soaring. Last year, members saw a 0% increase in take home pay, a real-terms pay cut. Now they face yet another.
“These are hard-working members who protect our environment and who protect our communities from flooding and pollution. They are feeling the impacts and are demanding a pay rise that doesn’t leave staff facing hardship.
“A 10% increase would meet current inflation rates, and at the same time, begin to address over a decade of pay erosion in the Environment Agency. Two per cent or, at best, 3% is an insult to our members and comes nowhere near covering the spiralling cost-of-living.”