Sunday 10 February 2008

Trade union conference on climate change

Yesterday I attended the trade union conference organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change. I was a delegate from my branch, but we also had a delegation from our Electrical Engineering, Electronics & IT (EEE&IT) National Sector Committee and I was pleased to see a reasonable spread of other UNITE activists there.

It was well attended and extremely useful. As well as reinforcing the importance of unions taking up this issue, there were some very practical ideas about how we do so, from the workplace to the political sphere.

I was pleased that quite a lot of people were discussing how to keep the environment linked to our mainstream bargaining agenda, rather than allowing it to become a "specialist subject" disconnected from the rest of what we do.

I will be posting a more detailed report highlighting some of the things I learned, but here is an outline of the day.

Opening Plenary
Chaired by Jean Lambert (Green MEP), speakers were Phil Thornhill (Campaign Against Climate Change), Frances O'Grady (TUC Deputy General Secretary), Caroline Lucas (Green MEP), Matt Wrack (FBU General Secretary), Chris Bough (PCS, standing in for Mark Serwotka who had to give his apologies), Linda Newman (UCU President), Christine Blower (NUT Deputy General Secretary) and Michael Meacher MP.

There were six workshops, each run twice, so each delegate could go to two of them.

A) Carbon Trading and Market Mechanisms

B) Greening the Workplace
I attended this one, which was introduced by Paul Hampton from the Labour Research Department and Caroline Malloy, the TUC's Green Workplaces project leader.

C) Alternative Energy - Towards a Zero Carbon Economy

D) Building Sustainable Cities
I attended this one, which was introduced by Glyn Robbins from Defend Council Housing in Tower Hamlets.

E) Towards Sustainable Transport

F) Global Treaties, Kyoto and Beyond

Closing Plenary
Speakers were Jonathan Neale (Campaign Against Climate Change), John McDonnell MP, Elaine-Graham Leigh (Respect), Dr Derek Wall (Green Party) and Tony Kearns (CWU Deputy General Secretary).

A resolution was overwhelmingly agreed:

CCCTU Conference Resolution

Conference fully endorses the aims of the Campaign against Climate Change (CCC)*. We recognise that trade unions have a central role to play, both in developing just and equitable solutions to climate change and also in building a mass movement around the issue. We therefore urge all trade unions to use their full industrial, political and organisational strength to force government and employers to take urgent and effective action to tackle this potentially catastrophic threat. As a first step, we urge all trade unions to:

· Affiliate to the CCC** and encourage members to support and participate in its actions, particularly the National Climate March in December 2008.

Develop union policies on:

(i) Securing effective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within each industry, workplace and local area, and across the economy as a whole.

(ii) Defending the interests of members during the transition to sustainable production.

In pursuance of this aim, conference calls for the establishment of an open, national Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Working Group, which shall meet once per quarter and which shall elect at its first meeting***, and subsequently re-elect annually, officers comprising at least a chair, vice-chair, secretary and treasurer. As a first step, this group will aim to organise CCC fringe meetings at as many national trade union conferences as possible.

*Aims of the Campaign against Climate Change:

1/ The CCC exists to secure the action we need - at a local, national and, above all, international level - to minimise harmful climate change and the devastating impacts it will have.

2/ In particular the CCC brings people together to create a mass movement to push for our goals, including street demonstrations & other approaches.

3/ The CCC seeks a global solution to a global problem and aims to push for an international emissions reductions treaty that is both effective in preventing the catastrophic destabilisation of global climate and equitable in the means of so doing.

4/ The CCC recognises that the issue of the destabilisation of global climate has enormous implications in terms of social justice and global inequality.

** Current trade union affiliation fees: National £250; Regional £100; Local £25.

*** The first meeting of the CCCTU Working Group will take place at 11am on Saturday 1st March 2008. Room 2A, University of London Union, Malet Street. All welcome.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was Glyn Robbins, from TH DCH. We did try very hard to get a representative of UCATT to speak in that workshop, but it didn't workout.

For the record there were about 300 delegates on the day (just over 200 advance bookings were made). Most of the British Trade Unions had at least one delegate, though it must be admited that the biggest representation came from unions like Unison, NUT and UCU. Saying that though, there were a good number of delegates from the CWU, RMT and PCS.

The conference was very much conceived of as a first step in the process of getting Trade Unions more involved in the climate campaigns. At this, it was very succesful.

The next open planning meeting is on the 1st of March in ULU.