UNISON North West Climate Emergency Group: Green light for action

Green light for action

UNISON in the North West is trying to build a Climate Emergency Group to help our union, activists and members make the vital contribution we can to tackling the Climate Change Emergency.

UNISON, as a public service union, and the biggest union in the region, is especially well placed to organise and bargain for changes at workplace, local, regional and national level. The employers we deal with can make or encourage the critical changes needed.

The Climate Emergency Group is a bottom-up initiative driven by local Environmental Representatives, and supported by the region. Mary Clarke, Stockport Branch, helped co-ordinate this with others around the region. Stockport, for example, has a facility agreement for environmental representatives.

Our aim is to devise simple and manageable practical tasks that will make a difference and generally raise awareness. We believe that UNISON members are naturally predisposed to protecting our planet and its eco-systems as we spend our lives protecting our society. Our members are not apathetic but they need a practical outlet to make their efforts produce results.

UNISON can put the case for a just transition, worker friendly changes to improve wellbeing, work-life balance and create well paid, high quality green jobs. Unions can help employers and government manage changes through redeployment, not redundancy, energy saving not energy poverty.

Just as the current pandemic could not be addressed without key workers being able to speak up through their unions, so too the true experts on tackling climate change, workers, need a voice to bring about the changes we need.

The group will be inviting guest speakers on important aspects of the climate change emergency at alternate meetings, with the meetings in between fully action-focussed. Martin Sleath , Cumbria Branch, spoke at our recent meeting about how the Lake District National Park Authority is driving net carbon zero by 2025.

The group is developing a work plan and strategy in parallel with UNISON objectives:

  • Organising - Increasing environment representatives and involving and informing members.
  • Negotiating and Bargaining – spreading best practice on making progress with employers.
  • Campaigning – raising awareness and changing policy, including supporting the Green New Deal and the just transition.
  • Internal – ensuring UNISON operates in a way that makes our own contribution.
  • Working with others – linking with other unions and campaigns.

Get your branch involved in this new, but long term initiative to help UNISON North West be at the heart of this critical challenge. Invite a speaker to your branch meeting. There’s an online meeting on the second Thursday of every month to which a representative from every branch is very welcome to attend. Contact Mary Clarke [email protected] or Jason Hunter [email protected] for details.

This article featured in InTouch activist magazine Winter 2021 edition.

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