Trade unions back radical action on climate and jobs

April 17th 2019

As STUC Congress prepares today to confront the hard questions surrounding climate change and jobs, a new trade union report says that Scotland is missing out on job opportunities in the low-carbon and renewable energy economy while multinationals offshore money and jobs from Scotland’s natural resources.

Report castigates past promises from governments and calls for an industrial strategy Congress set to agree statement on need for radical commitments on jobs and low-carbon investment Gilet jaune and school-age climate strikers join trade unionists to warn of dangers of inaction or inequitable action Critical Report

The report, entitled ‘Broken Promises and Offshored Jobs’, castigates the Scottish Government for past promises of up to 130,000 jobs in the low-carbon and renewable energy economy by 2020. Current figures show 46,400 (21,400 direct and 25,000 indirect) employees in the low-carbon and renewable energy economy.

The report blames a reliance on multinational companies, financial interests and imported goods and services and calls for a greater focus on public ownership and an industrial strategy to build a manufacturing base and ensure workers in Scotland benefit.

Congress Statement

The report is published as Scotland’s trade unions debate energy policy at their annual Congress in Dundee. The Conference is asking hard questions about the economic changes that need to be put in place to ensure a just transition to a low-carbon economy.

It is expected to agree a statement which recognising that the trade union movement is the only place where a debate can be held that brings together those who need good quality jobs and those who want to see a bright future for generations to come.

Gilets Jaunes and Climate Strikers

The conference is also hearing from young environmental protesters involved in the climate strikes and the Gilets Jaunes involved in French 'yellow vest' protests against President Macron's economic reforms that favour the elite. Both will meet with seasoned trade unionists.

The Climate strikers will warn Congress about the dangers of a lack of action to tackle climate change while the Gilet Jaune will warn about the dangers of inequitable action such as fuel taxes on the poorest in society.

Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the STUC, said:

‘Reducing carbon emissions in Scotland will involve hard choices, and the trade union movement is where these hard choices have to be resolved.

'Carbon reduction will only come from economic and social change on a massive scale. Work will be transformed, and that comes with uncertainty and risk. Protests in France demonstrate that attempts to place the burden on workers comes with serious consequences, and the Scottish Government must know that it is not immune to these risks.

'Equally, commitments to new jobs and policy reforms have failed to materialise time and time again. Scotland’s unions each have a different stake in this debate, but they are clear that market-driven policies are not the answer. Interventions in research, education, industry and ownership – as well as international cooperation – are crucial components of any just transition to a low-carbon economy.’

Salomé Saqué, a French journalist who has covered the Gilets Jaunes protests against Macron's tax reforms focused on fuel and energy, said:

'Macron's folly was to believe that he could place the burden of carbon reduction on the poor, the workers and the dispossessed of France, who have risen up and are currently forcing the government to think again. But the brutality of his government, his favours to finance and big business, and the violence inflicted on yellow vest protesters in France must be seen as a warning to the people, trade unions, and to any kind of political opposition across Europe.

'Government platitudes are useless at best, and often dangerous. Economic change, the ecological requirements that have to be implemented to improve workers' lives, must be fought for and won in unions, communities, and before anything, on the streets.'

ENDS

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