TUC: Union movement urged to join school climate walkouts this month

"Climate change is a trade union issue" says the UCU, calling for solidarity action with striking students.

School students and supporters will urge delegates at the TUC Congress in Brighton on Sunday to back the global school strikes on Friday 20 September.

The lobby, organised by the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) comes after the University and College Union (UCU) submitted a motion to the four-day conference calling on trade unionists to support the school students’ efforts, and to join them for 30 minutes in a solidarity walkout on 20 September.

The lobby will take place at 3pm on Sunday, with the UCU’s motion heard on Tuesday afternoon as part of the debate on the economy. The union’s general secretary Jo Grady will support the motion and say that workers should lend 30 minutes of their day on 20 September to the most important issue the planet faces.

The union believes tackling climate change will be central to the development of the British economy in the 21st century and an essential way of improving the lives of working people. The UCU have demanded a just transition to a greener economy.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said:

“The work done by Greta Thunberg and school students around the world has been inspirational. Now it’s time for the rest of us to catch up.

“As trade unionists it is important that we raise awareness of the impact of climate change, and we hope delegates in Brighton will back our motion. If workers don’t take a stand against climate change and speak with a united voice on the importance of a just transition, then multi-national corporations and anti-worker governments will simply take decisions without us.”

Jake Woodier from the UK Student Climate Network said:

“In the context of the ever-worsening climate crisis, it’s essential that workers are at the forefront of fighting for a just transition.

“That the UCU has put forward this motion to be heard at the TUC congress shows the trade union movement the direction it should be heading in – working in solidarity with those putting most pressure on government and those in positions of power to act now before it’s too late.”

The motion being heard at the union movement’s annual congress reads:

Congress notes:

  1. the Earth’s temperature has already risen by one degree above pre-industrial levels. The autumn IPCC report warned that we only have 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees. Carbon emissions need to be cut by 45% by 2030 and reach zero carbon by 2050 in order to avoid a dangerous tipping point
  2. the tremendous impact of the school students strikes in shifting government complacency over climate change forcing them to amend the 2008 Climate Change Act
  3. Greta Thunberg’s call for a Climate Strike and for adults and workers to join the global school students strike on the 20th September which will begin a week of action on climate
  4. the solidarity strikes organised by trade unions in Belgium and France. 

Congress believes: 

  1. climate change is a trade union issue
  2. that the future of our planet is at risk if we don’t organise now to force governments to cut emissions in line with the IPCC report
  3. that taxing the very wealthy and closing tax loopholes in line with Labour Party manifesto commitments will meet the cost of cutting emissions
  4. that we must keep the pressure up. The school students have led the way but educators and the trade union movement as a whole must now act to ensure that they don’t fight alone.

Congress resolves:

  • The TUC to call a 30-minute workday solidarity stoppage to coincide with the global school student strike on the 20th September.

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.

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