Trade Unions in support of YouthStrike4Climate 20th September

Sheffield TUC is giving its support to the School Students who are striking for the climate on Friday 20th September – and we think trade union branches and their members should do the same!

There IS a Climate Emergency and many more people now agree that this is one of the most pressing issues facing all of us. Following recent YouthStrike4Climate school strikes and Extinction Rebellionprotests in London, Jeremy Corbyn led a debate in Parliament which declared a Climate Emergency for the UK. If we don’t reduce carbon  emissions – and get global temperature rises to below +1.5C – then irreversible climate damage will affect life as we know it on our planet.

Trade Unions have a direct interest in climate action. As Sharon Burrow (then Gen Sec of the ITUC) said “There are no Jobs on a Dead Planet!”. Trade unions need to be at the heart of the debate about the greening of our economy, so that no-one is left behind as we transform to a carbon-free future. That means a “Just Transition” so that workers in “dirty” energy and manufacturing are transferred to “clean” jobs in the new green industries. Trade unions also know that the change won’t come about by relying on “market forces” and the profit motive. We need to take back control of energy production and we’ll need public investment in new green infrastructure and job creation to meet the challenges ahead. So climate action also becomes an opportunity to transform society into a fairer, better world based more on public need than private greed – for the Many not the Few! Many trade union have adopted positive policies on this and the 2018 TUC Congress agreed that energy production needs to be taken back into public control if we are to transform to a carbon-free energy industry.

Last week, Sheffield TUC took part in a joint planning meeting with Sheffield Climate Action, YouthStrike4Climate, Extinction Rebellion at which a number of trade union activists and shop stewards  attended, to discuss how we can show support for the next YouthStrike4Climate school strike on Friday 20th September. This is a chance to raise climate issues with your workforce/union branch membership, possibly for the first time. Can your branch send a message of support? Perhaps some of you can take a photo of yourselves in support of the students outside your depot/office/factory? Even better if your branch can be present on the march and rally on 20th september with your trade union banner. In some workplaces, it might be possible for a short stoppage at lunchtime – for example some Local Authorities and voluntary sector organisations have agreed do this with agreement of the employer. Whatever you think your branch can do, please show your support for the brave school children who are striking on Friday 20th september – for a  greener and better future for all of us.

Here is a brief report of the planning meeting held on Wednesday 245th July – by Jenny Patient Sheffield Climate Alliance:

This is big!

On Friday 20 September, school students will walk out in another global day of action and have asked others – workers and adults – to join them. Sheffield Climate Alliance is working with the youth strikers, Sheffield Trade Union Council, Extinction Rebellion and Campaign against Climate Change to respond to this call for action, aiming to have the biggest impact we can in Sheffield on 20 September – why not, as one youth striker said, 10,000 people taking action of some kind in Sheffield?

At a packed meeting on 24 July 50 people talked about how unions can mobilise for the strike day for climate, and how we can organise protests and actions that involve everyone who wants to be active over the climate crisis. There were speakers from SCA, XR, Youth Strikers and Sheffield TUC. Jointly we will be organising a further planning meeting in early September, which will soon be publicised on the SCA website and on Facebook.

Here are some of the proposed plans and actions:

  • Sheffield TUC will get information out to all affiliated union branches in Sheffield – plus why not affiliate your branch? Get in touch with STUC to express interest.
  • Union branches can bring banners to the rally/march in the city centre (plus possible feeder marches, e.g. from each University)
  • Leafletting of major workplaces will be organised in conjunction with the unions there – the youth strikers will produce a leaflet. Contact STUC if you can help with leafletting.
  • We could do mass leafletting in the city centre – e.g. on the Moor – contact the youth strikers if you could help.
  • We will approach Sheffield City Council to support the day and encourage all staff to join the rally. There are already ambitious similar plans in Doncaster. Lambeth Council have said they are shutting their offices to join the rally there.
  • There are initiatives from UCU and NEU to get Universities and schools to join in too – please make contact in your workplace. Similar is also happening in hospitals (GMB, also perhaps Unison and Unite) and government offices (PCS) – so get in touch.
  • STUC will talk to union branches of bus and tram workers to see how they could support the day in some visible way.
  • There could be a road blockade happening – we would like this to block cars and lorries, not buses!
  • We will have to steward the march ourselves and want to make it very safe for everyone to participate – please contact STUC if you would be willing to help with this.
  • Activists from Barnsley TUC suggested that shops could be asked to display a poster supporting the day of action, in the same way they have displayed a poster for Pride – we need some design skills on this!
  • Friends of the Earth is preparing resources and supporting local groups to call for a national Climate Action Plan.
  • 350.orgis calling for global action ahead of the UN’s climate meeting on 23rd Sept.
  • Everyone can write to the Star and Telegraph with their story about what they are doing and why it’s so important and urgent.

Get organising, and let us know your plans!

Jenny Patient

Co-chair of Sheffield Climate Alliance