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EA Redundancies "On Hold"

Friday, February 14, 2014

Consultation On Redundancies “On Hold” But Environment Agency Intends To Press On With 1,700 Job Cuts After Floods Have Receded Says GMB

This is ludicrous as the root of the current flooding crisis are successive years of central government cuts that have cut budgets by over a quarter before latest 10% cut says GMB.

GMB, the union for staff at the Environment Agency (EA), responded to the statement by Paul Leinster to all staff that they are putting "on hold" formal consultations on 1,700 redundancies. See notes to editors for copy of statement to staff issued 13th Feb 2014.

Justin Bowden, GMB National Officer for members at the EA, said “While EA has put consultation on redundancies on hold this statement makes clear that they will press on with redundancies after the floods have receded. This is ludicrous. Have government learned nothing from the current floods.

At the root of the current flooding crisis are successive years of central government cuts that have trimmed maintenance budgets to unsustainable levels.

Facts are stubborn things. In 2009-10 total grants to the Environment Agency were £846.7m.  For 2010-11 there were cut to £799.6m, for 2011-12 they were cut to £749.5m, in 2012-13 there were further cuts to £723m.  There was a further cut of £14m for this year. This is a reduction of 16% and during this period inflation has increased by 11%. In real terms the grant has been cut by more than a quarter.

That is before the latest 10% hack at the budget for 2014- 15 announced by Osborne last summer. 

Government must immediately reverse the ludicrous cut of 1,700 EA jobs, followed by an independent inquiry into what are the realistic funding levels necessary to ensure the EA has both the capital budget to protect the country from flooding and drought and a big enough revenue budget to maintain, service and run these vital defences.

When the floods recede so too should the demand for compulsory water meters based on the mistaken conclusion that water in the UK is scarce. It is not. Less than 2% of rain that falls in the UK is used in households and industry while the rest runs off eventually to the sea. Blaming citizens rather than water companies at times of shortages is a cop out.

What needs to be done to avoid running out of water is to store more water from times of plenty to be used at times of scarcity and transfer it from places with surplus water to areas with shortage at times of drought. ”

End

Contact Justin Bowden 07710 631 351 or Frank Minal 07713 079930 or GMB press office 07974 251 823 or 07921 289880.

Notes to editors

Copy of message from EA Chief Executive to all staff

Sent: 13 February 2014 17:01

Subject: Message to all staff - Managing change alongside flooding

Dear Colleagues

I’m writing to update you on how we plan to manage organisational change and the Strategic Reviews Response Programme (SRRP) alongside our response to the extensive flooding.

We have just experienced the country’s wettest January since 1766. With more rain forecast, we anticipate further flooding along the Thames, which could reach its highest levels in some places since 1947. This incident has presented huge challenges and the effort made by Environment Agency staff to warn about and reduce the risks of flooding has been incredible.

We are quite rightly prioritising incident response above all other work. With this in mind, we are reviewing the timetable for the change programme.

We will not be taking further decisions on work stream proposals or structures whilst we remain in incident mode. This means we will not be seeking any further engagement with staff on ways of working during this period and will not be entering into any formal consultation arrangements. We will continue to work closely with the Trade Unions and are committed to their on-going involvement.

We will complete the process of appointing Executive Managers, to ensure we have the leadership in place to move forward as soon as the incident permits. We will also keep the Voluntary Early Release Scheme (VERS) open and will manage vacancies carefully, as we move towards our affordable numbers of staff.

On 1 April we will move to transitional arrangements for teams currently based in regions. As communicated previously, this will mean all teams currently based in regions will temporarily report to the Executive Manager responsible for their work stream. We will provide more detail about this in the coming weeks.

Once we move out of incident response mode, we will re-focus our efforts to continue implementing a successful change programme. We want everyone’s voices to be heard as we develop ways of working, free from the pressures of incident response.

Directors and I have been out to affected parts of the country and met with teams working night and day to reduce the risk of flooding. The commitment, energy, expertise and professionalism we have seen first-hand makes us incredibly proud to lead this organisation. We are committed to managing engagement and consultation around organisational change in a manner that makes the best use of your knowledge and encourages you to have your say.

Thank you for all you are doing for people and the environment. Please continue to work safely and support one another at this challenging time.

Paul Leinster

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