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Date: Tuesday 6 May 2008

SEPA ballot delivers thumping majority for action

UNISON members working for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have voted overwhelmingly to take action in their dispute with SEPA. Nearly 88% of those voting, voted YES to take action short of strike. And the union has said that a range of action short of strike, will start on May 12.

SEPA issued dismissal notices (which will be followed by re-engagement on lesser conditions) to a large number of its staff in a unilateral attempt to impose changes to employees pay and conditions. This followed a failed attempt to pressure staff into signing these conditions away.

In addition UNISON says the agency has failed to agree a pay claim from 2006 and is in breach of its own agreements on job evaluation procedures.

John Keggie, UNISON's Scottish Organiser said: "This is a clear rejection of management's attacks on staff pay and conditions, and we would hope that SEPA will see sense and withdraw their threats of imposition. We are always available for discussions with the employers, but staff are deeply frustrated and need more than words."

The SEPA pay and grading proposals could lead to some staff losing thousands of pounds a year. The attempt to pressure staff into signing away their rights led to a 93% vote of no confidence in the board and management of SEPA. Over 200 individual grievances have also been lodged, and now an 88% action vote Staff voted for a range of action short of strike, for example, working to contract and to contracted hours, and to refuse voluntary work - such as on-call duty, action that is likely to restrict the ability of SEPA to carry out work relating to sampling, inspection and flood warning etc.

Alan Fleming, SEPA UNISON branch chair, said: "This is a responsible and caring workforce, who don't want to take strike action, because they know the importance of the work they do in protecting the environment and safeguarding public health. They have been forced into this action by a completely intransigent management. We are now planning our action which is targeted at having the maximum effect on the employer."


Notice for editors: 510 votes were returned, of which 448 (87.8%) voted Yes, and 62 (12.2%) voted No

For further information please contact: John Keggie, Scottish Organiser 07958 121 113(m) Alan Fleming, SEPA UNISON branch chair 01786 455924