We must avoid the mistakes of the 1980s, says the TUC.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has called on government and companies to make sure that workers are involved in decarbonisation plans.
While recognising the need for decarbonisation, the TUC said it must be done in a fair way, in consultation with trade unions.
In its statement, it said:
“The trade union movement will support the fight against climate change to help protect the planet for our children and grandchildren.”
“And we’ll stand up for those workers whose jobs are at risk if we don’t take action to make the transition to a greener economy a just one.”
The TUC said that, if decarbonisation was left solely to the market, it could repeat “the failed neoliberal approach of the 1980s” when coal mine closures devastated communities.
To avoid this, the TUC said the government should set up a cross-party commission on long-term energy strategy.
This commission should involve affected workers, unions, industries and consumers and plan for a just transition to clean energy.
“As part of its remit, this commission should carry out a study of the
social impacts of such a transition, its regional impacts and necessary mitigation measures,” the TUC said.
The TUC highlighted the automotive, aerospace, steel and construction industries as among those in need of government investment in green transition.
Commenting on this statement, Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison said:
“The TUC’s commitment is to be welcomed. Energy workers affected by the move to a low-carbon economy need a specific plan for their jobs, particularly in the gas industry.
“Greater public ownership and a commitment to hydrogen technology must be part of this plan. UNISON‘s recent Power To The People report outlined the benefits of nationalising the retail arms of the UK’s biggest energy companies.
“A massive energy efficiency programme is desperately needed to create homes that are cheaper to run, with councils, housing associations and energy companies working together.
“Public services are ready and willing but need the resources to be climate-change ready, reduce emissions and air pollution. We must also do what we can to expand public transport.”
An investigation by Greenpeace recently showed that workers at a recycling plant in West London were not being paid living wage and were set demanding targets.
A campaigner for War on Want argued that this case shows the need for green jobs to be good jobs – something echoed by the TUC in their statement.
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