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Motion to unite trade unions on climate action

The Campaign Against Climate Change has circulated a motion that it hopes will unite as much of the trade union movement as possible around a strong call for climate action as a class issue and a trade union issue. This is in response to the disappointing position taken by the TUC.

Green Party members may wish to circulate the motion to their trade union colleagues and take it to their branches. It has not been officially endorsed by the GPTU:

Below and in printable form is a General Motion intended for wide circulation across the trade union movement, and adoption by branches, regions, trades councils and annual conferences, with an ultimate aim for it to be heard at the 2024 TUC.

The motion is deliberately pitched at a high level, starting with the basic assertion that climate change is a class issue and a trade union issue.  It sets out the fundamental elements that should underpin the climate policies of every union in order to achieve a common understanding of the crisis, and how to respond to it in the interests of climate justice for workers, public service and the planet.  Many of these elements will already be clearly understood, but there is a need for a consistent and coherent articulation of these across the movement.  

The reason this General Motion is being raised now is due to the fragmented and inconsistent responses of different trade unions, within unions, and between members and their leaderships.  In particular, the climate-related motions passed at recent Trades Union Congresses have been deeply regressive, producing a narrative that runs counter to the long term interests, and job security, of workers, both in the U.K. and globally.  This motion seeks to redirect that narrative towards more progressive and radical solutions that will produce and secure thousands of jobs, restore a public service ethos, and make genuine progress towards countering the climate emergency.

Adaptations to the motion are welcomed to incorporate specific local, sectoral or international factors; the motion needs to be relevant to each constituency while ensuring that the fundamental elements are retained.  It purposely avoids specific references in order to be universal, and it is envisaged that details of specifics would be covered in complementary motions.

Finally, this motion is not viewed as the property of any one union, climate organisation or political faction.  It has emerged from a common analysis among activists across a number of trade unions, many of whom are also involved with the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union group (CACCTU), Greener Jobs Alliance (GJA) and other climate networks. 

NOTE: It would be very helpful if you could fill in the form here if your branch or other trade union forum has passed the motion.

Motion text

Conference affirms that climate change is a class issue and a trade union issue.

Conference notes that the:

 –  UN Secretary General has said we are in a new era of global boiling with unprecedented extreme weather impacting every part of the globe with increasing frequency.

 – International Energy Agency (IEA) states that to stay below the Paris Climate Agreement of 1.5oC fossil fuel use must reduce by 25% this decade and we cannot develop any new fossil fuel sites.

– Working class in the U.K. and globally are already being impacted by the terrible consequences of climate change, through loss of lives, livelihoods, food, access to water, housing and accommodation, forced migration, unbearable working conditions and an intolerable burden on emergency services.

–  UK government is doing little to safeguard workers or people from the impacts of climate change and, far from it, is advancing a narrative that seeks to make a virtue of weakening its commitments.

Conference believes:

– We need a rapid transition away from oil and gas to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown.

– Failing to take urgent measures to transition away from fossil fuels puts jobs at risk from sudden climate events or their economic consequences and foregoes opportunities to build in a timely way the larger skilled workforce needed across the whole economy without which decarbonisation cannot happen.

– Inequality and declining standards of living for working class people are explicitly locked into a fossil-fuelled market economy and austerity policies.

– The costs of transition to a decarbonised economy and society must not fall on those least able to pay.

– Transition policies must be generated by state investment.

– We must resist attempts aimed at using climate to divide working people; this only serves elites and distracts us from our common interest in jobs and a secure future.

 – Political posturing on net zero policies does not help our class and we must fight for policies that address climate change and environmental degradation rooted in economic and social justice.

– Trade unions and workers in all sectors are central to transition plans.

– Workers in other countries are our allies.

Conference agrees to fight for:

– Policies to address climate change and environmental degradation that are in the interests of workers and communities, and a plan for the forms of bargaining and industrial action to achieve them.

– Negotiated transition plans that guarantee protection for all workers in all sectors of the economy including across all equality strands, and as a minimum should cover jobs, wages, pensions, training and skills and trade union rights.

– Public ownership of key sectors such as energy, water, transport, mail, broadband, education, health and social care.

– A fair and progressive taxation system, accessing the wealth of one of the world’s richest countries without asking working people to pay for a crisis they did not create.

– A National Climate Service to plan, coordinate, fund and ensure education/ training for the workforce necessary to undertake the rapid and wide scale transformation to a decarbonised economy.

– Workers and their unions being directly and immediately engaged with government in designing and defining what the decarbonised industries and their workforces of the future look like.

– Solutions to the climate crisis that are in the interests of workers and communities, not capital.

Further, conference agrees to build combines within and across sectors, at the level of branches as well as nationally and globally, to develop common industrial strategies that contribute to a ‘whole economy’ approach to decarbonisation, including engagement with community and climate justice groups.