Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner gave an impassioned speech as he spoke in support of a motion on climate change at Labour conference on Sunday (September 26).
Addressing conference, he said, “This is a passionate, emotional debate, but it also has to be an honest one.”
“Climate change is a class issue that demands action now to clean our towns and cities, our skies and seas, the air we breathe, the products we use and the foods we eat,” he added.
“But it also demands a plan that takes working people, our families and communities with us on our journey,” Turner continued, noting that the plan must also give people confidence that their “genuine fears and anxieties will be addressed”.
He said that the plan must convince “our members in decent, well paid, skilled, unionised jobs” such as those in oil and gas, refining and distribution, or food, energy and steel manufacturing that “we’re not buying a pig in a poke”.
“Conference we have to win their confidence in an industrial and economic plan that protects them while creating millions of new green jobs, that ends austerity and invests in our public services,” he said. “A plan that builds the green council homes we need and to retrofits the rest.”
He went on to say that the plan must invest in a balanced energy policy and must also transition heavy industries, invest in people, localise production of things we need and reskill workers while protecting their pay and standard of living.
He told conference “to be confident in our ability to win a new fairer, more equal, greener economy that protects jobs, our people, and our planet”.
He said this new deal will “shape the future of work and ensure that no worker, family or community is left behind on our journey”.
“It’s only a Labour government working with us that can do this — that will put our priorities front and centre,” Turner added.
Calling for support of the motion, he concluded, “This is our moment – let’s not lose it.”
By Hajera Blagg