STUC Women’s Conference: General Secretary renews call for immediate General Election and highlights the gender impact of climate change
In a speech to STUC Women’s Conference in Perth, Grahame Smith is calling on all parties to bring about the General Election needed to break the Brexit deadlock and for a focus in that election on the everyday issues which affect working people. He said:
“Of course, an election and a Labour government at Westminster is the one sure way to take no deal or a hard Brexit off the table and to give the people the final say in a peoples vote."
“I understand Labour’s reservations about agreeing to an early election. But for me, the sooner we get the chance to rid the country of this government and the prospect of years of economic misery, growing inequality and poverty, and an anti-union onslaught, the better. It might be wishful thinking to hope that we can have an election that is not simply a re-run of the EU referendum or a dress rehearsal for a future Scottish Referendum. But there is too much at stake to let this be a leave/remain – yes/no election campaign. As unions we need to use all the influence we have to ensure that all the political parties focus on the everyday issues that affect our members.”
Smith praised school climate protesters and also went on to highlight that climate change is a class issue, and also a gender issue, as it is a racialised issue too.
“It is of course understandable that young people have felt it necessary to organise and campaign for action on climate change. And, it is equally understandable that their leading voice is that of a young woman. Climate change is the single most pressing global injustice facing present and future generations.
And it is a class issue. It is those who own and control the economy that bear the greatest responsibility for the carbon emissions that are destroying the plant. They extract the vast majority of wealth it creates. They enjoy lifestyles with the highest carbon footprints. It is they that can best protect themselves from the damage they are doing to our plant; And they, or course, are the leading climate change deniers.
Climate change is a class issue but it is not gender neutral. Women are disproportionately affected by climate change; but are least likely to own or work in the industries that do most damage to the planet, or to be climate change deniers. Men are by far the biggest culprits in that regard. Globally, women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men, primarily because women constitute two-thirds of the world’ poor and their livelihoods are more dependant on the natural resources that climate change threaten.
Our approach to climate justice will be insufficient if it ignores the gender and indeed the other equality dimensions. And I want to commend the many young trade unionists have acted in solidarity with the school climate strikers in their campaign for climate justice.”
ENDS For further details or comment contact
Rachel Thomson (at Perth conference) 07974966227
Dave Moxham (Glasgow office) 07891026870