First UK online network for green union reps goes live

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date: Friday 25 February 2011

embargo: For immediate release

The TUC has today (Friday) launched the first UK online network for green union reps.

The website - www.tuc.org.uk/green_workplaces_network - allows environmental reps in workplaces across the UK to keep up to date with union and community-based events and training courses, share ideas and best practice, and find out the latest developments on green issues at work.

The TUC believes green reps play a crucial role in encouraging employers and staff to take part in environmental projects at work, cutting UK carbon emissions and boosting company profits.

Giving reps basic legal rights to act on climate change issues in the workplace, statutory time off to perform their roles, and access to training, would go a long way to unleashing the untapped potential that exists among green reps in UK workplaces, says the TUC.

Case studies of successful environmental projects on the TUC site include an energy saving project at Magor Brewery near Newport, which saw owner ABInBev invest £1.4 million in initiatives put forward by Unite the union and the workforce.

As a result of the green project at the brewery 46 per cent less water was used, electricity consumption was cut by 49 per cent and heating bills were reduced by 23 per cent.

In the first two years, the firm saved more than £2 million in bills, recouping its outlay in less than 18 months. The project's focus has been on getting workers involved, and 70 per cent of the savings have been attributed to behavioural change of staff who have become greener in their approach to the work that they do.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'This website will be a key tool for union green reps to keep in touch with each other, and to share news and ideas.

'It highlights the importance of 'greening' the workplace and underlines the need for statutory rights for union environment reps.

'Already companies that work with green reps are achieving energy savings and huge cost benefits, and with new legal rights more companies - especially those with poor environmental records - could start to clean up their act and make a real difference.'

The site also provides resources including:

  • a model joint environmental agreement aimed at building partnerships between employers and unions to reduce the environmental impact of the workplace;
  • checklists to help union reps conduct environmental audits of their workplace covering energy, waste, water and transport;
  • training resources for environmental courses and workplace activities; and
  • tips on how to go green at home and save money.

Green union reps will be giving the website details on their various greening the workplace projects over the coming months, so a wider library of experience can be built up over time.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- The network is part of the TUC's GreenWorkplaces project, funded by Defra, which gets unions and management working together to tackle climate change, cut energy use and make organisations and businesses more environmentally friendly. The project demonstrates how active union participation in energy saving projects can make workplaces cleaner, safer and better places to work while saving jobs and expanding workplace learning.
- The website address is www.tuc.org.uk/green_workplaces_network

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

- Register for the TUC's press extranet: a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit www.tuc.org.uk/pressextranet

Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: media@tuc.org.uk
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk
Elly Gibson T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: egibson@tuc.org.uk

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