Met Office staff begin strike action


Met Office weather staff on strike over gender pay gap

Image caption
The Met Office says it is currently reviewing the findings of a pay audit to understand the reasons behind the gender pay gap

Staff at the Met Office have begun a walkout in a strike over a 10% gap in male and female salaries.

The trade union Prospect, which represents the majority of Met Office employees, says senior female meteorologists earn about £7,000 less than their male counterparts.

The Met Office, based in Exeter, conceded the 24-hour industrial action could disrupt some weather services.

It said it was aware of the pay gap and was “committed to reducing it”.

“Critical services maintained”

It is the second time in a year staff at the Met Office have taken strike action over pay. The walkout began at 07:00 GMT.

A group of union members are travelling to London to lobby MPs in a bid to get the government to give the Met Office more freedom in how it pays its staff.

It says its current pay policy is restricting the Met Office”s ability to close the equal pay gap and retain specialist staff.

Union spokeswoman Helen Stevens said the strike action was not being taken lightly by “loyal and committed” staff, adding the government “talks the talk on fair and equal pay, but does not walk the walk”.

Image caption
Prospect claims the government is restricting how the Met Office rewards its staff

The Met Office said it was working to ensure services “critical for safety of life and property” were maintained during the strike action.

It provides information for a wide range of customers including the armed forces, energy and retail companies and for BBC weather forecasts, although the BBC announced last summer it was cancelling its weather forecasting contract after nearly 100 years.

The Met Office said its current gender pay gap was “in line with the public sector and better than the UK”s industry-wide figure”.

“The Met Office has carried out a pay audit and is now reviewing the findings to understand the reasons behind the pay gap it has revealed and decide on next steps,” a statement added.