Indicative ballot on industrial action at Natural England

Indicative ballot on industrial action at Natural England

Morale at Natural England has hit rock bottom and reps are gearing up to ballot members on industrial action after the organisation imposed a 2% pay increase.

The national Joint Union Forum said the overall award would not provide any meaningful change to pay progression, the gender pay gap, equal pay, historical harmonisation and parity with the rest of the environment, food and rural affairs group.

The unions suggested alternative ways of improving the offer eg by reducing the working week to 36 hours. But this was rebuffed as Treasury rules would classify it as a cost.

Natural England ultimately said no further movement was possible on the 2%.

The settlement is effectively the result of successive core funding reductions handed down by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 

These financial restrictions placed upon NE management have severely limited room for manoeuvre, with anything more for staff having to be self-funded from programme budgets.

The unions are now going to concentrate their efforts on lobbying the purse holders – Defra and the Treasury.

Prospect branch chair David Heaver said: “We want more than a one-off payment to keep members quiet. We want the whole pay framework to be revised and we want better benchmarking across the EFRA family.

“But above all, we want a longer-term trajectory to start to make up the losses from 10 years of pay restraint.”

Prospect’s pay claim includes:

  • a consolidated pay rise for all staff, in line with cost of living, ie CPI/RPI
  • pay scale maxima and minima to rise in line with the cost of living and restore parity with the wider EFRA family
  • an additional progression increase for people below the maximum, so they can reach it in a reasonable timescale
  • agreement on a new system which reinstates structural progression through the pay scales.