Unite delegates highlighted the urgency of tackling the climate emergency and the importance of a green industrial revolution on the first day of policy conference on Monday (October 18).
Unite delegate John Gillespie from Scotland moved a composite on climate change and a just transition, which highlighted how the growing climate emergency is having a catastrophic impact across the globe – from rising sea levels, to melting ice caps, Australian bush fires and more.
The composite noted the government’s failure to act collectively or even recognise the issue, while millions have already lost their lives, homes and livelihoods as a result of climate change.
Seconding the composite was Unite Stephanie Kasprowski (pictured below), who said, “Time is up because our planet is dying and the government isn’t doing anything about it.”
Stephanie emphasised the importance of a just transition, in addition to having a skills development plan in place so that UK workers don’t lose out on jobs. A mass housing retrofit programme would present huge opportunities as well for displaced workers.
Quoting a Native American proverb, Stephanie said, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors we borrow it from our children.”
Joining in on the debate to support Composite 9 was Unite delegate Peter Bond, a black cab driver from the London and Eastern region, who highlighted the government’s hypocrisy over its rhetoric on high-pay, high-skilled jobs, calling it ‘all lies’. He also called the COP26 climate change conference a ‘cop-out’ because of government failure to take real action on climate change.
He pointed out how many green jobs are being outsourced abroad with the government’s blessing, and that Unite and the trade union movement must reclaim ‘high-skill, high-wage’ jobs as it fights for a green industrial revolution.
Unite delegate Mhari-Anne Agnew (pictured below) also contributed to the discussion, speaking in support of the composite. Mhari-Anne noted that climate change doesn’t only affect its working members, but also its retired members.
“We have a duty of care to everyone in the Unite family,” she said.
The composite was carried.
By Hajera Blagg