Unite delegate and construction worker Andy Jones yesterday (September 12) addressed TUC conference on climate change.
“Conference, there is an old saying that you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you,” said Andy Jones.
“The same is true of our climate. That is a lesson Donald Trump is learning the hard way – at horrific cost to the American people,” he added.
It is only four months since Trump announced that the US would pull out of the Paris Agreement.
However as TUC takes place hundreds of thousands of people across Florida, Texas and the Caribbean are rushing to take shelter or reclaiming their lives from the wreckage.
“These disasters show that it is always our people – working class people – who are forced to pay the price for government inaction,” said Jones.
It is only right that the trade union movement must play a central role in meeting the climate challenge.
“That means democratic control over our rigged energy system, an environmental rep in every workplace and having trade unions in the driving seat to support our members in a ‘just transition’ to high skilled, low carbon jobs,” Jones added.
Jones went on to say that no one must be left behind and every part of the trade union movement has its role to play – including energy and transport.
“We note the reference to moving more freight to rail which must recognise that road still has a part to play in a proper strategy,” he added.
Jones used his own sector, construction as an example.
“This motion proposes a public works programme for the mass retrofitting of insulation for our homes and public buildings,” he said.
This would be a positive step and an economic shot in the arm – creating thousands of jobs in the low carbon economy.
“But conference, the Grenfell tragedy and the scores of tower blocks which failed safety tests in its wake serves as a stark reminder,” said Jones.
“We will not accept cut corners and we will not put private profit over public safety,” he added.
Such a programme must be safe and it must be public – involving workers and residents together.
“Any initiative must be the start of an ambitious long-term industrial strategy which invests in a balanced energy policy, creates secure jobs and invests in reskilling workers,” he said.
The motion was passed.