Speaking in support of a motion today (September 11) at TUC conference on a just transition for energy workers, Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail warned of the challenges of climate change and the need for trade unions to take the lead.
There is no question at all that climate change is one of – possibly the – greatest challenge facing the future of humanity,” she said.
“The consensus of scientific evidence is that we urgently need to take action to make human life on this planet sustainable and enjoyable, without scarcity of water and food, for the generations to come.”
Gail highlighted the need to meet these challenges in a progressive way – to, she said, “discuss the new technologies, the new public infrastructure, the support for our eco-systems that needs to be developed.”
“All of us need a green new deal – an economy and industrial strategy that underpins this transformation, delivered by a progressive government that ensures the opportunities created by this challenge are seized to build a more equitable, sustainable and socially just world.”
But action on climate change, Gail noted, is under threat at a time when a sitting US president denies climate change and unilaterally pulls out of the Paris Agreement.
She criticised the UK government too for failing to meet our country’s carbon target budgets.
“If the catastrophe of climate change is left to unfold – the very wealthiest will ensure they are looked after,” Gail noted.
“Trade unions will be, and should be, a force that ensures on this matter it is not working people that are left to pay the price – as they so often are.”
But she urged conference of the need to have “specific areas of discussion, debate and work to ensure that no working people or communities lose out and the benefits are shared.”
“Energy workers must be at the heart and centre of the change we support and we need to safeguard that future energy jobs are union jobs on union rates,” she added.
Gail reminded conference of TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady’s speech yesterday (September 10) that spoke to “one of our core values – ‘to protect workers jobs and rights.’”
She said part and parcel in protecting workers jobs and rights is a continued commitment to a just transition for energy workers as she urged conference to support the motion.
The motion was carried.