European GreenWorkplaces Conference: Team GB shine at Brussels conference.
Last week in Brussels, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) hosted a conference for trade unionists and shop stewards across Europe active in 'greening their workplaces'. The conference launched a new European network of greenworkplace projects as well as a new European guide for environmental reps (The guide is featured below).
The event provided an opportunity for reps from a network of European projects to showcase their work to an array of European Commissioners and representatives of business who were present on the day.
The projects on show included five British greenworkplaces: a Unite project at the Port of Felixstowe, a FDA and PCS project focused on Euston Tower, a skyscraper in central London, the Work of UCU at South Thames College, UCATT at Wakefield District Housing and a UNISON project at Harlow District Council.
The day opened with an address from ETUC General Secretary Bernadette Segol. Segol described how 'casino capitalism' had spread across Europe since the mid-1980s, through unregulated markets, and outlined the ensuing social and environmental crisis and attacks on collective bargaining. But Segol stressed that alternatives do exist to austerity:
This address was followed by an on screen appearance by Connie Hedgaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action, who stressed the urgency of creating green jobs for the future: 'we need to really do it, not just talk about it', a warning to all of us to practice what we preach. Hedgaard emphasised the need to invest in our own economy by saving money on energy bills and creating jobs, she singled out the construction industry in particular, as an area for growth in green jobs.
In the sessions that followed, British projects were highlighted as good practice examples:
Port of Felixstowe
The first panel session of the morning 'Putting workers into the driving seat on energy and resource efficiency' featured a Unite project at Felixstowe docks. Both Alan Tinline, environmental manager at the Port and Unite Senior Steward and green rep, Kevin Rogers took to the stage to deliver a joint presentation.
But this approach has to be done with the full consultation of the union and as Kevin went on to explain, with 96% Unite density out of a 2,500 strong workforce, an agreed joint approach is crucial.
There's no mistaking Kevin's passion for all things 'environmental' and all things 'union'. Kevin sits on the Port's travel steer group that promotes sustainable development and encourages cycling to work and car sharing. He started his half of the presentation with the simple statement 'I'm very passionate about the environment'. And it's not hard to see how Kevin was able to persuade management to give him three days paid release to attend the TUC's Trade Union and Environment Course - on the basis that 'non-confrontational dialogue can be progressed through constructive organising' - Kevin's words.
Kevin and Alan, working together, were able to arrange for the TUC to provide a one day awareness raising course on-site with a network of dockers, all new to trade union green work. Kevin stated that: 'The workshop was the ideal platform to promote pro-active greenworkplace reps'.
Taking questions from the floor (Left to right): Judith Kirton-Darling (ETUC Confederal Secretary), Alan Tinline and Kevin Rogers
The aim now is to share resources and review existing policy. (The case study is included in the LRD Green Unions at Work report at www.lrdpublications.org.uk/all_issues.php?pub=OT - ask your union for a copy. It's also been featured in previous editions of this newsletter.
Responding to the projects showcased during the morning, William Neale, from the Cabinet of Commissioner Janez Potocnik (DG Environment) stated that 'employees are best placed to monitor and understand where waste is present in the company and how to use resources more efficiently'.
Greening Euston Tower
The afternoon sessions at Brussels included a session on 'Pushing workers rights to put Just transition into action at the workplace, and achieve EU targets'. Yet again the GB team took centre stage.
Margaret haig , green rep at the Ministry of Justice, outlined how Euston Tower was home to almost 2,000 staff working in: HM Revenue and Customs, ACAS, and private sector businesses. Unions represented included PCS, FDA and ARC (FDA in HMRC). There was a strong union footprint with union membership extending to senior managers. There's also a strong record of joint union work on learning.
After an initial one day course held on site by the TUC, the aim is to hold a three day training course to engage green reps, staff and management and ensure senior management and union buy-in to the project. The initial course involved fifteen members of various civil service unions and was hosted by the FDA branch in ACAS and brought together members of the FDA, PCS and sustainable and estates managers from various governmental bodies working, not only in Euston Tower, but other buildings across the civil service estate.
Throughout the day British projects were featured at the conference with contributions also from the conference floor from:
A UCATT project based at Wakefield and District Housing (WDH) project , (see below for the full case study);
a UCU project at South Thames College (www.eauc.org.uk/sorted/files/south_themes_final_online.pdf);
a Unite project at Magor brewery, near Newport in Wales, (see www.tuc.org.uk/greenworkplacesnetwork/Case_studies/Green_Workplaces_Network_Case_Study_Magor_Brewery.pdf ) which is leading the way in carbon reduction;
another Unite project at GE Electric where reps are saving over £275,000 every quarter in energy costs;
and a new UNISON project at Harlow District Council where union and management have worked jointly to deliver another TUC training course with funding from the European greenworkplaces network project.
In the final session on how to take the European network forward, the importance of ensuring projects are both sustainable and supported was recognised. Conference concluded that green campaigning needs to highlight protecting jobs through discussion on resource efficiency in the workplace and not reductions in staff. The job of the green rep must include giving colleagues a sound reason for getting involved - recognising the environmental benefits from trade union involvement as well as the recruitment and organising advantages that ensue from being active on environmental issues.
It was agreed to that it was crucial that access to, and availability of training must be a high priority. To this end, delegates heard that the ETUC (and TUC) are waiting to hear whether a bid for further EU funding for the European network has been successful. From the evidence in Brussels, let's hope so.
Workplace action for environmental protection: new ETUC handbook for trade unionists.
The ETUC Green-Workplaces Project has produced a new handbook aimed to encourage shop stewards to get going on greening their workplace. It offers practical examples including:
Use of food-waste in prisons to produce electricity, and solid waste to fertilise gardens a
Union reps in a hospital on a joint union-management committee conducting energy audits in the hospital
Residential care - union representatives working to audit waste and provide training on waste management
Cleaners - reducing night shifts, working during day time, saving energy and working more sociable hours
Ethical and Green procurement at the work place- unions involved in what the company buys
Union reps proposing double glazing and efficient heating systems in a social care centre
Automatic energy controls, motion sensor lights and automatic powering down of PCs in a major electricity company
Co-generation to power child care facilities, waste recycling in libraries, water savings and collecting rain water in office buildings: numerous examples of how trade union representatives can be active at the workplace.
The handbook developed by the ETUC offers guidance on how to start, plan and campaign. It's available in sic different languages and can be downloaded at www.etuc.org/a/10376
UCATT supports a green approach to social housing
UCATT is supporting the building of an environmentally-friendly housing development not only because it is helping tackle climate change and fuel poverty but also because the workers involved in the Wakefield and District Housing (WDH) project are getting the opportunity to develop their green
skills on cutting-edge green technologies.
The 91-home Park Dale project in Airedale, Yorkshire is the UK's largest zero carbon housing development.
The homes cater for a range of ages
and family sizes and were built for WDH by developers Bramalls to the highest sustainable housing standard using traditional construction methods. For example, each home is connected to a central biomass boiler that uses locally produced wood pellets to provide heating and hot water; every house has a south facing roof fitted with 35m2 of photovoltaic (PV) panels to turn energy from the sun into electricity; and the air temperature in each property is regulated by a mechanical ventilation
heat recovery system.
According to the environmental manager, a union member, 'Other local authorities and social housing providers can be doing exactly the same as us......It just requires vision on the part of senior management and a commitment to work in partnership with the trade unions and other organisations.'
UCATT General Secretary, Steve Murphy, argues that the project highlights a major transition occurring in the construction industry. 'It demonstrates not only the massive change needed in the way people are employed in construction; but also the opportunities
for retraining those with traditional skills."
Apprentices have had access to unique hands-on
practical training in cutting-edge green technologies at Park Dale - skills they would never have acquired on a conventional building site. For example, he can now install and maintain the grey water system to flush the toilet. Apprentices are now helping to pass
on their skills to WDH's adult workforce. The union commented: 'The project is fantastic. It is good for the environment, good for the tenants, and good for construction workers - providing them with the opportunity to develop green skills for the future. We certainly hope to see more developments like this springing up around the country.'
The UCATT project features in the ETUC's new Green workplaces Guide for union reps.
UCU Environmental Success Story
UCU has got a lot to celebrate on the green agenda lately. During the 2011-12 academic year the number of UCU reps has rocketed by 60% - bringing the total number of UCU environment reps to 161 reps. The aim is to get an environmental rep in every branch.
On top of that, one of the UCU's sustainability projects - a partnership featured as a case study for the ETUC conference in Brussels - has been short-listed as 'Best Newcomer' in the annual Green Gown Awards. For more details on the shortlisted entries go to: http://www.eauc.org.uk/green_gown_awards
The project is a partnership between UCU and South Thames College on pioneering community engagement on low carbon skills.
Finally, during the autumn term UCU will also be issuing a new guide for reps. If you have any thoughts on content and case studies contact Graham Peterson at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you're one of those new reps and haven't been on any training you can sign up for a 2 day course at:
London - November 6th-7th, 2012 at UCU Head office or
Leeds - Feb. 20th and March 19th, 2013 at TUC Regional Office.
To register contact Karen Brooks at email@example.com.
UCU is also trying to put its own house in order. They are arranging for an NUS Green Impact Officer to conduct an audit of UCU's Head Office. Graham Peterson of UCU said 'Along with the work of our HQ union environment reps, this will help to make sure we practice what we preach'.
UNISON issues online cuts pack - advice on cutting carbon, not jobs
A growing number of UNISON branches are now electing environmental reps to campaign for cost effective green measures - looking to reduce energy and resource use as an alternative to job losses.
The coalition government may be trying to rip up our public services on a scale never seen before but UNISON's online resource or 'cuts pack' puts tools into your hands to stem the tide of brutal Tory-led cuts to public services.
It brings together economic arguments, legal rights, publicity ideas and campaigning tools to help you fight the cuts and defend jobs and public services.
The toolkit draws on lots of advice UNISON has produced but summarises it and signposts to other resources. Crucially it now contains a section on cutting carbon, not jobs. To download visit:
TUC 16,000 jobs at risk in home insulation industry
by Philip Pearson
The Insulation Industry Forum is the latest business group to warn the Government that its putting green jobs at risk. Home insulation is a key part of the Government's Green Deal. The Forum has warned the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, that thelack of continuityof Government support between the end of the existing Government subsidy for cavity wall and loft insulation, and the Government's Green Deal has put 16,000 jobs in jeopardy from 1 January 2013.
The Forum represents 70% of the UK's £700m insulation industry. Spokesperson John Sinfield of Knauf Insulation said 'The loft and cavity wall insulation industry will fall off a cliff in 2013.' His forum's letter to Ed Davey uses DECC's own forecasts:
87.5% reduction in the loft insulation market
57% reduction in the cavity wall insulation market
16% drop in the solid wall insulation market
As a result of this gap, 16,000 (45%) of jobs in the insulation industry will be lost in 2013. The lack of any transition planning will also stifle and restrict investment, job creation and training in solid wall insulation, necessary to transform the market in order to meet Government carbon targets. Installation contractors will go out of business, with jobs cut from 36,000 to 20,000 in 2013.
'The policy by the current Government risks destroying businesses, putting people out of work and undermining the Coalition's green ambitions for the country,' the Forum said. It supports the Green Deal and ECO, which they want to succeed. But the industry is calling on the Secretary of State to recognise the scale of the problem that is about to hit the industry, develop a set of measures to address the insulation gap, and implement a suitable solution.
Green growth at party conference
by Philip Pearson
Green is good for growth. That's the central message emerging from two weeks of political debate in Brighton and Manchester where energy prices and green jobs have moved centre stage. Caroline Flint, who is speaking at the TUC's green jobs conference on 23 October, argued in her address to the Labour Party conference that Britain needs 'an energy market that delivers fair prices and protects the most vulnerable.' But, with solar manufacturer now Sharp laying off staff when these industries should be driving economic recovery, what would Labour's industry policy look like?
Speeches delivered by Caroline Flint and Ed Balls are beginning to provide some shape to Labour's approach to a green energy and industrial strategy:
An energy market that is simpler and works in the public interest.
An energy market which delivers fair prices, protects the most vulnerable
Labour would scrap Ofgem, the energy regulator, and replace it with a new watchdog with powers to force energy companies to pass cuts in wholesale energy prices
Labour launched its SwitchTogether campaign - to promote collective purchasing so that customers get a better energy deal.
On jobs: 'It was Chris Huhne who took the axe to Britain's solar industry....Costing us jobs. Britain must be part of an energy revolution just as important to this country's prosperity as the Victorian railways, and the internet in the 20th century. ...When Labour left Government the UK was ranked third in the world for investment in green growth with £7billion of private money driving new energy and clean technology. We are now seventh.'
Meanwhile Ed Balls called for a more stable and predictable policy environment for renewable energy and other key infrastructure projects.
All of this may give some longer term comfort to green businesses like Sharp. But, in the here and now, why is the Coalition failing to grasp the economic opportunities of new industries like Photovoltaics? This from the latest BIS study on the green economy, Low carbon Environmental Goods and Services:
Solar industry - sales worth £5.4bn in 2010/2011 (up 6.4%)
Over 40,000 people working in 2,000 companies, well distributed across the UK regions.
Exports at £1.3bn were double the scale of imports (£670m).
Apparently, shadow DECC and Defra teams are pushing hard for green growth to be a key component of Labour's industrial policy narrative. Meanwhile, with worrying speculation about the future of the Sharp plant, the litmus test for Government industrial policy is whether this industry thrives, or not.
Congress 2012: Change must mean a green industrial strategy
Report back by Philip Pearson
Addressing this year's TUC Congress, Frances O'Grady, the TUC's General Secretary-Designate, underlined the low carbon economy in her acceptance speech: 'Change must mean a green industrial strategy that puts Britain back to work...Because no one has a greater interest in the future success of the workplace than those whose livelihoods depend on it.' This week, too, the Business Secretary Vince Cable - our conference guest speaker at Green is good for growth - has signalled he understands that to generate growth and drive up living standards there is a lot more that government can do than simply getting out of the way. Congress motions on energy and climate change set the direction of TUC campaigns in the year ahead: on the Energy Bill, clean coal and CCS, and building green reps' networks in every region.
Coal is vital to the energy mix
Chris Kitchen, National Secretary, NUM, moved the energy motion, arguing that coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS) was vital not just for our energy security, with massive coal reserves still available, but to develop the clean coal technology for the rest of the world. The government should recognise clean coal in the energy mix, and protect the workforce and skills in the deep mines we have left.
Pat Carragher of the collier managers (BACM-TEAM) argued that the motion was fundamentally about investing in green jobs in low carbon energy for the long term. Terry Fox (NACODS) feared another 'dash for gas', but the electricity supply sector had to be virtually carbon free by 2030. And the RMT argued that the UK could lead the world in clean coal technology.
The motion backed the Road Map for Coal from the Clean Coal Task Group, and called on the TUC to campaign for key changes to the Energy Bill to deliver 'certainty and stability' for a clean energy future.
Greenwash and the sustainable production of energy
The motion called for the creation of Green Reps networks in every region. It set out the grounds to oppose shale gas extraction (fracking) 'unless proven harmless for people and the environment.' And it opposed waste incineration methods of generating energy: 'Incineration emits more CO2 than gas plants, and potentially creates new types of pollution. Waste incineration may divert from reducing waste and recycling and is therefore not sustainable,' the motion argued.
The UCU delegate spoke of the government apparently wanting to squeeze the last drop of oil and gas out the ground, calling for real investment in real green jobs, and 'green reps in every workplace.' PCS and bakers union (BFAWU) argued the motion well reflected the urgency of dealing with these issues. The government should use this opportunity to invest in a clean integrated rail network, and rebuild our manufacturing base by driving investment in green energy.
Explaining the General Council's position, on behalf of the GC Paul Noon, Prospect GS, welcomed the additional support for green reps proposed by the Trades Councils' motion. Congress policy supports a balanced, sustainable, low carbon energy mix for the UK, including support for the gas industry. The TUC would therefore want to be satisfied that campaigns on the issues of waste incineration or fracking 'did not put employment or livelihoods at risk.'
Climate bloc on TUC March 20 October
The Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group (CACCTU) are calling on supporters to spread the word and join them on the Climate Bloc on Oct 20th on the TUC March for a Future that Works.
Obviously many trade unionists may have other responsibilities and demands on their time on the day of the demo, but CACCTU group hope you can spread the word as wide as possible in your trade union branches and campaign organisations.
The Bloc aims to comprise different environmental and campaign groups supporting the TUC demo and raising the profile of climate and the possible solutions that challenge austerity. See the website for organisations signed up to the climate bloc which has endorsed the following statement:
"We are people from many different environmental campaigns. We are joining the TUC march on 20 October to be part of a huge popular challenge to austerity and the misery and hopelessness it is creating. We will march together on the 20th to raise the crucial question of tackling climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of A Future That Works. Dealing with these issues together is possible, necessary and desirable. The climate is changing dramatically, and we are already seeing huge impacts on food prices and energy costs.
We don't have to choose between the climate and the economy. The climate crisis and the economic crisis have the same root causes, in an economy rigged in favour of the richest 1%.
More and more people are calling for investment in jobs which reduce emissions - for example, in renewable energy, public transport, and insulating our homes, which would make a vital start in tackling both climate change and unemployment. We also need to talk about what kind of work we need for a cleaner, fairer future."
Meet 11am at St Paul's to assemble before joining the march.
Other supporters of the Climate Bloc are shown on the website: http://climatebloc.wordpress.com/
TUC Climate Change Conference: Green is Good for Growth
Date:Tue, 23 Oct 2012, 9:00a.m. to 4:15p.m.
Venue: Congress House
This year's free TUC annual climate change conference will focus on how to deliver a greener and stronger UK economy.
The Independent Committee on Climate Change has recently reported that the government 'must do more' if it is to have any hope of achieving vital carbon reduction targets. At the same time, with the UK economy facing a lost decade of stagnation, going green has potential to bring us huge economic benefits, securing the quality jobs and new investment that future economic success will depend upon.
Keynote addresses from the Business Secretary Rt. Hon. Dr. Vince Cable MP and TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O'Grady and panel debates between business, trade unions, campaigners and politicians will be accompanied by expert-led workshops on key strategic issues in green economic policy including the development of the Green Investment Bank and the scope for achieving a green industrial policy. The conference will close with a Question to an MP's panel: What makes a good green government?
This exciting conference will make the case both for greener growth, and for the economic benefits that this approach could bring.
To register please visit: www.greenisgoodforgrowth.eventbrite.com
The Environmental Factor
Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2012
Time: 13:00 to 15:00
Venue: TUC Regional Office, 39 Pilgrim Street,
Newcastle, NE1 6QE
With 21st century projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stating that global surface temperature is set to rise between 1.5 to 1.9oC (lowest emissions scenario) and 3.4 to 6.1 oC (highest emissions scenario) there is much work to be done on the issue of the environment. This briefing will look at and discuss:
* Mitigation: reducing household, industrial (and commercial) and transport carbon emissions (energy resource management, shift to clean energy)
* Adaptation: tackling rising workplace temperatures, new health and safety challenges, increased flooding and fire risks
Register interest or request more information
with Helen Parry on 0191 232 3175
Union learning and the green economy:
A free seminar with John Edmonds, Tom Wilson and Maria Adebowale
Date:Tue, 9 Nov 2012, 10:30a.m. to 14:30p.m.
Venue: Congress House
This seminar is a key dissemination event for
unionlearn's green economy programme. Expert speakers and trade union officials who are leading the way on skills for the green economy will debate and discuss these issues:
What can trade union learning
contribute to the transition to a low carbon
How can trade unions lead on skills
for a green economy?
Why should trade union members
have 'green skills'?
Participants will learn about the central
role that unionlearn is playing in new
green skills partnerships with employers,
colleges and the voluntary sector, and
hear how organising around green skills
in the workplace and the wider economy
is engaging trade union members and
Who should come?
trade union officials with an interest
in the learning, skills and green
partners such as sector skills councils, colleges, local authorities, employers and
the voluntary sector.
John Edmonds, Aldersgate Group, formerly GMB General Secretary
Tom Wilson. Director of unionlearn
Maria Adebowale, Director of environmental think tank Capacity Global
To download the full agenda visit: www.unionlearn.org.uk/news/2012/09/26/union-learning-and-green-economy
For further details and to register please contact: Zoe Molyneaux
Tel:020 7079 6932 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Free training - take the Trade Unions and the Environment Course
For information on three day accredited courses for union members. Contact your regional unionlearn office. www.unionlearn.org.uk
Scottish Green Workplaces
For TUC Environmental courses and information in relation to Green Workplaces
in Scotland and any general environmental enquiries please contact George Waldron, Trade Union Education Department, Stow College on 0141 332 1786 ex512 or e-mail email@example.com
To find out more about the TUC's GreenWorkplaces Network contact:
Tel: 0207 4671206
Newsletter (4,600 words) issued 24 Oct 2012
This page http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-21567-f0.cfm
printed 21 May 2013 at 11:19 hrs by 220.127.116.11