‘Climate change is here – right now’

Unite AGS Steve Turner tells Congress about Unite’s climate change strategy – developed in the absence of any govt action  

Reading time: 5 min

This year’s TUC Congress is again being held online from today, September 12, through to September 14.

This year’s TUC President is none other than Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail who welcomed union delegations and everyone watching the proceedings live.

The first Unite speaker up was Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary. Turner was speaking in support of composite 2, a motion in the debate on ‘the economy – energy and the environment.’

He opened with the immense challenge the global community now faces – and that climate change is above all a class issue – and that it’s here, right now.

“Colleagues, nobody in this virtual hall is going to disagree on the scale of the challenge ahead. Climate change is not somebody else’s problem, an issue for the global south or island communities drowning as sea levels rise. It’s a class issue, a global crisis and one that’s here right now in the UK.

“A crisis that demands action now to clean up and decarbonise our towns and cities, our skies and seas, the air we breathe, products we use and foods we eat.

“Action to protect our communities from pollution and growing threats of flooding, fire and drought Conference, securing a sustainable, healthy, living environment for future generations is the challenge of our lifetime.”

Being a union that was present in every sector of the UK economy, Turner said Unite members were intrinsically affected.

“No union will be impacted by climate change like Unite, we are the economy,” he said.

‘Centre stage’

“We have been and will continue to be centre stage in demanding a workers transition to a green economy.

“Led by our members in our oil and gas fields, refining and distribution operations, in energy generation, construction and manufacturing; in our steel plants and those transitioning our automotive and aerospace sectors; looking after our health and driving our buses, working in our aviation sector.

“Building the industrial organisation alongside alliances with our communities, campaign groups and wider civil society necessary to force political change.

“In the absence of any government strategy Unite developed its own,” added Turner, making a key point.

Manufacturing matters strategy  

“Our manufacturing matters strategy lays out a clear programme for change, from corporate governance, collective workers’ rights and industrial policy to the public procurement, investment, intervention and support necessary to transition and rebuild while bringing home our supply chains.

“An industrial and social plan to end austerity and invest in a million public sector jobs, caring for our sick, educating our kids, rebuilding our communities.

“A plan to build the green council homes we need to end the housing crisis while decarbonising the rest. Investing in a balanced energy policy including new tidal, wind, solar and nuclear generation.

“A plan to produce the green hydrogen and biomass we need to power change.  And manufacturing the products we need to do that here.

“Making the products we need locally and offering apprenticeships to our young, reskilling our existing workforce, protecting pay and standards of living giving working people the confidence to come with us on this journey,” he continued.


“Conference, as a movement we have to be confident in our ability to win a green new deal that protects our members and planet. To shape the future of work and to ensure that no worker, family or community is left behind on our journey to a greener, cleaner world

“This composite lays out a strategy to win, an action plan that brings people with us. Nobody else can or will do it for us,” he concluded.


Watch Congress live – tomorrow’s session starts at 10 am.


Read Unite’s manufacturing matters strategy



If you’re interested in the environment and climate change why not attend Unite Education’s Environment Conference? An online discussion called Climate crisis – a workers-led future.

The event will take place on September 16 from 9.30 am to 12 noon. To take part register here.

If you simply want to find out more about the Taskforce and the courses on offer, contact your regional education organiser.

Stayed tuned to UNITElive for more from this year’s TUC Congress

Pic from an earlier event for illustration purposes only

By Amanda Campbell


Related Articles