Picket lines announced for Environment Agency strike

UNISON and Prospect union to take joint action this week.

Thousands of Environment Agency employees belonging to UNISON and Prospect are to take strike action on Wednesday (8 February).

Staff working in river inspection, flood forecasting, coastal risk management and pollution control will stage a 12-hour strike on Wednesday (8 February) starting at 7am.

In addition, for 12 hours either side of the walkout, Environment Agency employees will escalate their ongoing work to rule by withdrawing from incident response rotas.

Staff will picket at locations across the South West to demonstrate their commitment to better pay and working conditions. The first picket lines will form at Starcross in Exeter from 7am.

Picket Lines in the South West

Rivers House, Bridgwater (8:30 – 10:30)
East Quay, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 4YS

Horizon House, Bristol (8:00 – 10:00)
Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AH

Manley House, Exeter (8:00 – 13:00)
Kestral Way, Exeter, Devon, EX2 7LQ

Starcross NLS Labs, Exeter (7:00 – 12:00)
Staplake Mount, Starcross, Exeter, EX6 8PE

Pennygillam Way, Launceston (8:00 – 11:00)
Pennygillam Industrial Estate, Launceston, Pl15 7ED

Environment Agency employees got a 2% pay rise (plus £345) this year, but in 2021/22 most staff received nothing. Overall, wages there have fallen by more than 20% in real terms since 2010, say the unions.

This has caused many staff to leave for betterpaid jobs, leaving the agency with severe staff shortages. The unions want the government to intervene to find a solution that will prevent further escalation. In the meantime, they are urging members of the public to show their support for the striking workers joining the picket lines.

UNISON South West regional organiser, Chris Roche, said:

“From flood defences, to river quality, to biodiversity, Environment Agency staff in UNISON work tirelessly to protect communities and our treasured natural surroundings.

“It beggars belief that, as the consequences of climate crisis wreak ever worsening havoc across the country, this government seems hell bent on running the Environment Agency and its staff into the ground. It’s an act of wilful negligence by Ministers, and is to the absolute credit of hard working Environment Agency staff that they’ve said enough is enough.

“This strike by Environment Agency staff is for their families and ours. Without increased funding and pay, the crucial service provided by Environment Agency staff, work that we all benefit from and depend on, will collapse. For all of our sakes, the government need to urgently agree an increase to Environment Agency funding and pay.”