The majority of the 1,800 Met Office staff at its headquarters in Exeter, around the country and at the BBC Weather Centre are expected to back the one-day action and stay away from work, their union Prospect said today. For the public, one of the most obvious signs of the dispute is that well-known names like Alex Deakin and Laura Tobin will be missing from the BBC forecasts on their TV screens.
However, Prospect has agreed emergency cover to ensure key weather information is available for aviation, shipping, defence and other essential services such as emergency flood warnings. Staff set to take strike action at the Met Office, which is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, include forecasters, scientists, IT experts and commercial sales staff. Their absence will hit the collection and interpretation of meteorological data from weather stations and satellites around the world and the UK.
Prospect negotiator Philippa Childs said: “Production of the UK’s 24-hour and five-day outlook forecasts will inevitably suffer a loss of quality and substantial delays until staff return to work on Thursday. We are sorry for the inconvenience this will cause the public and business community but our members would not take this action unless they felt it was absolutely necessary.
“They face the prospect of paying increased contributions to their pension schemes from next year at a time when they are already in a pay freeze, and a savage cut to the value of their pension in the future, because of a financial deficit that they did not cause. Many of the Government’s changes have already been imposed. All our members are asking is that the government engage in genuine negotiations and moderate its attack on people whose only crime is to serve the public to the best of their ability.”
Weather presenter Alex Deakin, local Prospect rep for the London forecasters, said: “All the staff at the centre are Prospect members. While we are impacted by the proposed changes, our main concern is to support other colleagues in the Met Office and across the public sector for whom the impact will be devastating.”
Also affected will be 200 researchers at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, the world-famous climate science body based at the Met Office in Exeter, which uses computer models to understand changes in the global climate.