Going green with Unite

Unite in the South West has begun training more green reps as it continues to take a lead in tackling climate change by supporting green workplaces.

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Unite in the South West is training up ‘green reps’ – while Unite nationally has an exciting new climate change task force

With the recent report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) painting a stark picture of the future without immediate cuts to carbon emissions, and the CoP 26 in Glasgow only months away, Unite has started running “Reps and the environment” courses to train activists and develop a network of Environmental Reps across the South West.

The first three day course ran over the summer, and was well received, with new reps learning about the background to the current crisis and its challenges as well as its opportunities. Attendees also took part in group activities around a number of areas to help reps back in the workplace.

Throughout the course the new reps worked together looking at how environmental audits can be used, explored workplace processes and ways they could be made more sustainable, and ways to get the message across to colleagues.

The course also explored Unite’s series of seven ‘shovel ready’ manufacturing schemes that government and employers could start now to help recover the economy. Providing enormous benefits in terms of how we live and work in the light of the climate crisis.

The Environmental Reps training finished with everyone working on a “call to action”. Reps decided on which issues would be a priority for their own workplaces, how they could involve their branch and fellow members and how they would develop a plan to tackle the issues with short, medium and long term goals.

Gareth Lowe, Unite South West Regional Officer, has been developing the South West regions work around climate change and just transition – working with Unite’s Education Department to develop the training.

Gareth said, “An environment audit was undertaken which shone a light on the expertise and roles already held by Unite’s lay members. A group of these prospective and current environmental activists met for Unite’s first regional environment workshop in the spring, with a second workshop in July for a further group of reps and activists.”

“Following this we held the new three-day pilot training course, Reps and the environment, which we hope to follow up with another course in the autumn.”

All interested reps are initially invited to attend a short Introduction to Unite’s Green Agenda session which sets out Unite’s position and the role that the unions Environmental Reps will have. This is followed up with the full three day course.

Gareth said, “These are exciting and critical times for us all and I’m proud Unite is standing up to be counted in this vital effort. As we aim to progress a Green New Deal nationally, Unite South West are making strides to ensure our region is at the forefront of this plan.

“I would encourage all Unite members with an interest in climate change, the environment and how we green our workplaces to consider becoming an Environmental Rep with the union.”

The next course is being planned for the autumn, with dates available soon. For more information on Unite’s environmental agenda across the South West and how to get involved, e-mail Gareth Lowe on [email protected]


Thinking about becoming an environmental rep? Wherever you live, more details on Unite’s environmental taskforce can be found here.


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.

By Keith Hatch

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