11 November 2021

Natural England to ballot members for industrial action over pay

The ballot opened today and we are recommending that members vote yes.

Pay in Natural England has the lowest starting salaries in the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The minimum of the EO grade in Natural England is £3,000 less than that in other parts of the department

Pay progression has been virtually non-existent for the same period and there are pay discrepancies where we believe that some PCS members are not getting paid the rate for the job that they do.

The ballot, which opened today and closes on 24 November, is consultative, and a further statutory ballot would need to be held before strike action could take place. However the ballot result could strengthen our position in negotiations with management.

Why hold a consultative strike ballot?

Following a previous ballot in 2020 Natural England management agreed to undertake a pay review and submit a pay flexibility case to The Treasury. However, there has been virtually no progress with the review and no pay flexibility case was submitted to The Treasury.

Recently the trade unions have ramped up the pressure on Natural England to deliver on their promises. This has resulted in a timetable being produced which indicates that a pay flexibility case will be put to The Treasury and work done on the pay framework by January 2023.

This is too little too late.

PCS demands

  • Natural England pay to be brought into line with the rest of the DEFRA group
  • A thorough review of pay and grading throughout Natural England to be completed by April 2022
  • A pay flexibility case put to the Treasury by April 2022
  • Real pay progression in Natural England.

A good turn out in the ballot gives us a better chance of getting our reasonable demands met.