Week of Climate Action: Unions must intensify our push for climate justice

Thursday 19 September 2019

Calling European unions to action, UNI Europa Regional Secretary Oliver Roethig said, “Climate change is the next frontier for the labour movement. Collective agreements are one under-explored tool which can improve workers’ standards of living, reduce inequality, and ensure a just transition at the workplace and sectoral level. Let’s make sure that the Global Climate Action Week 20-27 September is the start to turn the tide on inequality and climate change.”

“Climate change is not a future crisis,” added UNI Global Union General Secretary Christy Hoffman on the eve of the Global Week of Climate Action “It is a current moral and material danger. We are at a watershed moment, and any just solution to this mounting emergency must include more participation from the global labour movement.”

 

This urgency has compelled UNI Global Union to call on its affiliates to join the millions of working people and students set to hit the streets for the Global Week of Climate Action.

The week coincides with the UN Climate Summit (23 September), starting with a global student strike on Friday 20 September and culminating with a global day of action on Friday 27 September. Joint actions are being prepared in many places in collaboration with youth and climate movements amongst others.

UNI affiliates are already showing leadership on this critical issue, and several are planning to participate in the week of action.

UNI Europa President and President of German labor giant ver.di Frank Bsirske urged members to join the climate protests on 20 September. ver.di has stated that members should use a collective holiday to support the movement or organise lunch break actions. ver.di’s Twitter account reports Bsirske saying ‘Whoever can, should clock out and go out on the streets. I will definitely go.’

A delegation from Italian trade union confederation, led by General Secretary Maurizio Landini, met with representatives of the #FridaysForFuture movement in July. Since then, the CGIL has declared support for the Global Climate Strike, and it is planning a series of actions for the week. On September 27, workplace assemblies will be convened to discuss the climatic emergency and the struggle for climate justice.

In the United States, the 2-million-member Service Employees International Union became the first union to endorse ground-breaking climate legislation that, according to SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, “makes unions central to accomplishing the ambitious goal of an environmentally responsible and economically just society.”

Colombian union SINTRABRINKS is fighting against a vicious campaign of fear and intimidation by security company Brinks, and one of the union’s central demands is cleaner emission vehicles.

In Belgium, SETCa-BBTK and the local works council of Ageas Insurance Group are using the international climate actions to kick off an effort to get their employer to cut emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and zero emissions by 2050. This drive is inspired by the ITUC’s “Climate Proof Your Work” campaign.

In Canada, the CUPW is pushing its employer, Canada Post, to focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, waste and single use plastics through an ambitious climate plan.

The New Zealand labor movement is loudly supporting the youth-led week of action, with the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, the New Zealand Public Services Association, and FIRST Union all encouraging working people to stand for climate justice.

Unions can unite their actions under the ITUC’s banner “#JustTransition for #ClimateAmbition” on social media to show the support of the union movement during the global week of action.

The full list of events being organised during the week of action, to which individuals and organisations can sign up, is available here. Unions can determine the appropriate actions to take from workplace action to community mobilization.

If you and your union are supporting the Week of Climate Action, please let us know!

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