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GMB EA Demo London 20 Feb

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

GMB Protest Demonstration On Thursday 20th Feb At Environment Agency Meeting In London To Discuss Timetable For 1,700 Job Losses

This meeting shows that the EA is pressing on with the 1,700 redundancies as soon as the floods have receded says GMB.

GMB, the union for staff at the Environment Agency (EA), is holding a protest demonstration outside a joint meeting in London on Thursday 20th which will discuss an amended timetable for 1,700 job losses when the current flooding recedes. See notes to editors for EA statement in press re the talks/ meeting.

Last week the EA put consultation on redundancies on hold. GMB is calling on Government to immediately reverse these ludicrous cuts to staff needed to deal with floods and flood defences.

The details of the protest, called by GMB Southern Region who represents EA workers on the Thames, are as follows:

Outside joint EA/trade union meeting

From 10.30am Thursday 20th Feb 2014

Friends Meeting House,

173/177 Euston Road,

London NW1 2 BJ

There will be GMB members with flags and banners and officers and members available for interview.

The EA budget for 2013/14 has been cut by 16% in cash terms since the 2010 general election. During this period inflation has increased by 11% so in real terms the grant has been cut by more than a quarter. That is before the latest 10% cut in the budget for 2014/ 15 announced by Osborne last summer. 

The details are that 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.

Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary, said "GMB is calling this protest demonstration because last week’s EA announcement that consultation on redundancies has been put on hold is a sham.

This meeting shows that the EA is pressing on with the 1,700 redundancies as soon as the floods have receded. Management want the meeting to discuss how the delay in consultation impacts on the timetable for job losses. This is a ludicrous state of affairs, 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.

What we need to see now is a clear commitment from Government to stop the redundancy process and to take the job cuts off the table. This should be in favour of 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".

End

Contact: Justin Bowden 07710 631351 or Frank Minal 07713 079930.  GMB Press Office 07921 289 880 or 07974 251 823

Notes to editors

1 Press report on EA position on talks with unions – from Daily Mirror 18th Feb 2014.

The Agency said that while consultations with individual workers had been put on hold, talks with unions were continuing.

Spokesman Toby Willison said: “We are reviewing the timetable for the Environment Agency’s change programme and will not be entering a formal consultation with staff until the current flooding has subsided...

“The planned reductions in posts will not affect the Environment Agency’s ability to respond to flooding incidents and the Environment Agency will minimise the impact on other front line services through the changes.”

2 2 the picture on GMB website with this release is of GMB member Richard Hawkins, the resident Lock & Weir Keeper at Abingdon employed by the Environment Agency (EA), who raced into action at 7.30am on Saturday morning 15th February 2014 to rescue a boater who had fallen into the Thames. Richard then steered the 57' narrow boat, which had come adrift from its mooring by the ferocity of the current, across the river, where he was able to secure the vessel safely. Only six days earlier Richard had rescued a young boy who had slipped into the flood waters and was in danger of being swept into the weir.    

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