A sustainable Unite

Unite delegates affirm union's commitment to sustainability

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Unite delegates on Monday (October 18) affirmed the union’s commitment to lead by example in the fight against climate change and ensure the union itself becomes more sustainable.

Unite delegate Adam Umney (pictured above) of the East Midlands region moved a composite on ‘a sustainable Unite’, which calls on the union to “commit fully now to examining the initiative to combat climate change and determine how Unite can support this”.

Adam urged Unite to make a commitment as an organisation to reduce disposable packaging among other measures. The composite specifically asks the union to source food and drink from local businesses that use good employment practices; to ensure food provided in meetings and events are sourced sustainably with as little impact on the environment as possible; and to minimise food waste and single-use plastic.

Seconding the composite was Unite delegate Deena Bettison (pictured below), who urged support for a more sustainable Unite, noting that Unite must also find a greener way to communicate with each other and its members.

Also taking part in the discussion was Unite delegate Ivan Monckton (pictured below) who said it was especially vital that Unite ensures it sources food from companies whose workers receive the real Living Wage.

Ivan highlighted how the ‘fair trade’ label can be misleading, noting too that the leading international food workers’ union, the IUF, finds the label problematic. Fair trade, he said, is often only ‘fair’ for producers but not for the people who work for these producers.

In a powerful speech, Ivan added that “good intentions are not enough” and said it was vital that all members ensure that Unite carries out its commitments to sustainability in all its operations.

Unite delegate Amanda Cunningham of Scotland, who also spoke in the debate, highlighted the issue of plastic packaging.

In a related debate, a motion was moved on the ambition to make Unite not only carbon neutral in the near-term by 2024 but to make the union carbon negative by 2030.

Unite delegates Stewart Forrester and Adrian Jones among others spoke in the discussion, with Adrian noting the importance of nominating a designated officer, ideally in the role of assistant general secretary, to oversee Unite’s carbon use as a whole.

Both the composite and motion were overwhelmingly carried.

By Hajera Blagg

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