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Wednesday 5 December 2007

'No confidence' vote by 93% of SEPA staff

A motion of 'No Confidence' in the management of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has been passed overwhelmingly by the troubled agency's staff.

SEPA staff union, UNISON, announced that their members voted 93% in favour of the no confidence motion in a secret ballot after SEPA management walked away from agreed bargaining arrangements and began an attempt to individually pressure staff to accept its unilateral proposals to rewrite staff conditions, create a new pay structure and impose a pay rise.

The ballot, organised by UNISON, received a 65% turnout in four days. Rebecca Noon, UNISON's SEPA Branch Secretary said "It was clear to all, that this huge and costly exercise to try and return industrial relations to the Victorian era, was planned and organised by the Agency's executive long before they even proposed their plans to the staff negotiators. Staff clearly realise that the orchestrated walkout, when UNISON refused to accept major proposals that had just been tabled, was an exercise in treating the elected reps of their staff with contempt. The costly roadshows in hotels across Scotland, with free transport and an internal website all organised weeks before the meeting with staff reps only confirmed that they never intended to take any staff response seriously. That was reflected in the huge vote of no confidence."

The SEPA proposals - while details have continued to be changed during the series of staff presentations - could lead to some staff losing thousands of pounds a year.

Alan Fleming, UNISON's SEPA Branch Chairperson said "Even after their advance planning, four different versions of the offer were presented to staff over two days and the presentation had to be changed halfway through the 'tour' as the information was misleading! It is no wonder that UNISON refused to accept the version they got initially, or that staff exposed to these presentations have no confidence in those trying to pressure them into signing away their rights."

UNISON are now taking this vote back to the Board and the management of SEPA, and will urge them to resume normal bargaining procedures. The union also continues to explore other methods of resolution of this issue, including legal and other action, including possible strike action if other activity fails.


For further information please contact: Rebecca Noon, Branch Secretary 07748 945 801 Alan Fleming, Branch Chairperson 07809 041 906 Marion Adamson, Regional Officer 07904 326812 Chris Bartter, Communications Officer 07715583729