Environment Agency chief pulls out of ‘job cuts’ meeting, says Unite

An Environment Agency worker carries a sandbag for floods defences in Sommerset

Serious questions need to be asked about why the boss of the troubled Environment Agency (EA) has pulled out of a meeting this week about future job losses, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Wednesday 5 March).

Unite and other staff unions were due to meet the agency’s chief executive Dr Paul Leinster on Friday (7 March) to express concerns about the threatened 1,700 compulsory redundancies – about 14 per cent of the 12,000-strong workforce. The meeting with the unions will not now take place until 7 April.

Unite national officer for EA members Mike McCartney said: “Serious questions need to be asked why Paul Leinster has pulled of out this important meeting for no apparent good reason.

“Agency staff worked their socks off – day and night – during the recent floods. Yet at the same time, there is this threat of redundancy hanging over 1,700 staff as part of the coalition’s austerity programme.

“It is not good enough that the chief executive is not available to discuss the agency’s future plans and workforce levels with the staff unions until April.

“Now that the floods have subsided and the weather is improving, the issues of protection against floods and the size of the workforce needed to maintain inland and coastal defences can’t be pushed on to the back burner.

“The floods may no longer be front page news, however, we need to hold David Cameron to his promise that ‘money is no object’ in dealing with the impact of the floods and their aftermath.

“It is not fair that workers at the agency – and their families – are still being kept in the dark over their futures.

“The message that the floods sent out is that the budgets for flood defences need to be increased, not axed – and there needs to be a full complement of staff to ensure that the accelerating effects of climate change are held in check.” http://www.unitetheunion.org/news/environment-agency-chief-pulls-out-of-job-cuts-meeting-says-unite/

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