Trade unions and working families across the world are mobilising to join the global actions for climate justice taking place around November’s COP26 global climate summit in Glasgow.
The Peace & Justice Project is contributing to these mobilisations by working with Labour for a Green New Deal, Momentum and the COP26 Coalition to build the trade union and worker actions in November.
Here’s how you can be part of making not just history, but the future we need.
What’s happening when?
5 November: Global Climate Strike
On Friday 5 November, the global “Fridays for Future” school strike movement, started by Greta Thunburg, is calling a global climate strike. This means students and workers are encouraged to stay out of education and work where possible, disrupting business as usual and sending a clear message to educational institutions, politicians and businesses.
6 November: Global Day of Action
Saturday 6 November is the global day of action called by the COP26 Coalition of civil society organisations. There will be x2 flagship national demonstrations in Glasgow and London, large scale regional demonstrations in other major cities, and local and international demonstrations in towns across the UK and the world. Each demonstration will be timed to assemble at 12pm, start at 1pm and rally for speeches at 3pm. There will also be a global roundup rally online at 7pm.
How can I help?
To build these mobilisations will take all of us and everyone has a place. Here’s our list of things that need doing at the moment:
–Helping to identify what union/worker led actions are planned already and to bring them together
–Taking on building a union/worker bloc on your nearest demo on the 6 November if one isn’t already in progress
–Taking on organising a workplace action to support the global climate strike on 5 November
–Mobilising your co-workers or other non-union workers in your area to join in on the 5 and 6 November
–Writing to and calling trade union branches and offices to get them involved
–Helping with copywriting, graphic design, social media, the website or other digital communications between now and November
Sign up on the form above and we’ll be in touch shortly about what you can do and read more about our plan below.
Why should workers participate?
Fires, floods and famine – the impacts of climate change are already being felt on every continent, costing lives and livelihoods. At the same time, workers who work in fossil fuel industries are at serious risk of being left behind by a corporate led climate transition. Working people have done the least to cause this global catastrophe, yet so far are paying the price. Our political and economic system isn’t working. It’s past time for a rewire and workers can’t wait: We need a just transition now!
Work is the problem?
The way business is organised today is at the heart of our problems. Profit driven employers are cutting costs by lowering workers pay and conditions, reducing environmental and safety protections, and raising prices for ordinary consumers. And our privatised infrastructure and public services – from flood defences to railways and healthcare to education – are creaking from underinvestment and failing in the face of climate impacts.
These economic choices mean that working people globally are increasingly vulnerable to the environmental, economic and public health crises that are intensifying as a result of the climate crisis. And meanwhile, the carbon emissions that cause climate change – far from being your fault – are the result of this same overall economic system that is still hooked on burning fossil fuels to make profits.
While the production and distribution of goods and services is primarily directed by private companies in competitive markets, rather than democratic planning, profit is put before people and planet.
Work is the solution.
To enable society to minimise and adapt to the impacts of climate change will require a whole lot of work. Government bodies, business and trade unions alike have been unanimous that a green and fair recovery from Covid and a serious plan to tackle climate change will create millions of good jobs globally and put money in the pockets of working families.
To minimise the worst of climate change, fossil fuel workers need urgent retraining and support to transition into new roles, so the fossil fuel industry itself can be brought to an end. Likewise, millions of new green jobs and apprenticeships can be created in obvious areas like public transport, retrofitting housing and planting trees, simultaneously addressing the post-Covid rise in unemployment.
Meanwhile, to enable a more resilient society that is better able to adapt to climate change means – firstly – massive public investment in low-carbon, socially essential work such as health and social care, education, welfare, food supply and our emergency services. And secondly, it means a new deal for all workers, lifting workers out of poverty and insecurity, with an expansion of unionisation, new workers rights, a shorter working week and improved pay and conditions.
Working people create the world’s wealth and make the world turn. While our political and economic system might be dominated by multinational corporations and the super rich, the simple truth is that they rely on us. History shows us that when working people have united together in trade unions, this has been the form of people power best able to challenge the power of big money. The mobilisations around COP26 are an opportunity to show that the world’s workforce are standing strong in the movement for climate justice, forming unions and ready to use our power as working people to win the globally fair and worker-led just-transition we urgently need.
How should workers participate
Mobilising as workers
While the vast majority of the people taking action for climate justice in November will be working people, because we are usually there in a different guise – as climate activists – the corporate media get away with declaring the movement a middle class minority and encouraging policy makers to ignore us. This November we will break that narrative wide open, by mobilising proudly as trade unionists and as workers.
On every action, this means:
–Bring trade union flags and banners!
–Wear work uniforms where possible!
–Bring home painted t-shirts, placards and banners letting the world know your job and why you are demanding climate justice! (e.g. “Cleaners for a Green New Deal!”, “Nurses for Climate Health” etc etc)
5 November: Workplace actions to support the Global Climate Strike
To support the global climate strike we are encouraging workers in the UK to organise creative workplace actions on 5 November. An action guide will be available soon!
6 November: Trade union and Working Families sections on the global day of action demonstrations
On the global day of action, the main national and regional demonstrations in Glasgow, London and other major cities will be based on “blocs” i.e. different sections of the march representing the diversity of the demonstrators.
Each of them – and as many local demonstrations as possible – will have a “Trade union and working families” bloc and we aim to mobilise both existing trade union members and non-unionised working people to make these blocs as large, visible and powerful as possible.