Green Workplaces

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Activist Resources

This guide is aimed at trade union reps and members
A chapter from The TUC Workplace Manual. Helpful resource for
A 3-part handbook with practical guide to taking action in

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The TUC's Greenworkplaces projects show how unions are leading the way with a wide range of imaginative initiatives on energy saving at work, waste reduction, recycling, green travel plans and many other ideas. Over 1,300 green reps replied to the 2009 survey of green workplaces carried out for the TUC by the Labour Research Department (LRD), so clearly a lot is happening out there!

The TUC is currently working with unions and management to deliver training and support in projects at, for example, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, Leicester City Council, The National Library of Scotland, Corus, the National Union of Teachers, who are greening their own workplace, and a major initiative at United Utilities.  The union network of greenworkplace projects is expanding through the South West TUC’s GreenWorkplaces project, now well underway in that region. Also, a successful bid by a consortium of four unions (PCS, UCU, CWU and NUT) for Defra funding has led to the Climate Solidarity project, which aims to build community/workplace links for greening working and living.

Our GreenWorkplaces projects are supported by a unionlearn-led environmental education programme that took off in earnest three years ago.  For course details visit: http://www.unionlearn.org.uk/courses/index.cfm/sb/14/

A number of affiliates also run their own environmental courses. The TUC’s GreenWorkplaces projects all include joint union/management training programmes. Whilst we don’t have a database for those trained, we are confident that we are approaching the 1,000 mark.

The TUC wants statutory rights for trade union environment reps – both in terms of training and facility time. Unions want the statutory right for workplace environmental representatives to take reasonable time off during working hours to:

  • promote environmentally sustainable workplace initiatives and practices
  • carry out environmental risk assessments and audits
  • consult on workplace environmental policies, practices and management systems
  • receive relevant training

The TUC wants the law changed to allow amendments to be made to the ACAS code of practice, Time off for trade union duties and activities.  In TUC GreenWorkplaces projects, and many other workplaces, unions have, on an ad-hoc basis, been extending their rights to cover an ever widening environmental agenda at work to tackle climate change.  We are looking for a change in the law to make the position of union green reps absolutely clear. 

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