Thames Lockhouse Review Locks Staff Out of Homes
More than twenty lock keepers and their families face losing
their homes following a swingeing review by the Environment
Agency (EA), warned UNISON, the UK’s largest public services
union, today. Angry lock and weir keepers are drawing up plans
to resist job cuts and the sell-off of their homes, where some
of the workers have lived for over 30 years.
Cuts in the way the Environment Agency is funded means that they are looking for ways to bridge the funding gap and it is the lock keepers and their families who are being made to suffer.
The lock and weir keepers are currently housed along the river Thames and are among the lowest paid staff in the Agency. The plans to sell-off, or rent out their homes to holidaymakers, leave families facing being uprooted and moved from their family homes in the next 5 years.
A lock keeper’s wife commenting on the proposals said:
“How do we feel about the prospect of losing our home, through no fault of our own? We feel depressed, anxious, angry and betrayed, but we also feel intimidated by the EA. All of our best efforts are for nothing. It’s not just a lock house, bricks and mortar – it’s our home and our livelihood that’s threatened just to satisfy a bureaucratic directive.”
Jeanette Roe, UNISON Regional Officer, said:
“Throwing families out of their homes is a disgrace. Our members are rightly very angry. Not only is the Agency planning to cut jobs but workers will be made to leave their family homes – all in the name of so called efficiency savings.
“Our members do a vital job, ensuring the safety of the public who enjoy our waterways and the smooth flow of river traffic. They play an important part in the Agency’s flood defence duties through their operation of the Thames weirs that regulate the flow of the river. In these times of climate change this role is becoming increasingly important.
“We want a full and frank details of the proposed measures. As yet there are no meaningful options for re-housing the staff. The EA is selling off almost 50% of its housing stock and a lock keepers salary is only around £16,000 a year - not enough to pay a mortgage or rent property on the open market. The lock-house is an essential part of their salary package.”
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