Issue date
• All workers in Wales will be impacted by the Welsh Government’s net zero goal, according to a new report commissioned by Wales TUC.
• Using international examples, the research shows that workers can gain from the transition to net zero - but only if they have a say in decision making.
• Wales TUC is calling for the ‘just transition’ principle to be adopted by all public bodies in Wales, so that no worker is left behind.

Wales is in a decade of major industrial transformation which will impact every worker, according to a new report commissioned by the Wales TUC.

It sets out how efforts at a workplace level need to be ramped up to achieve net zero in line with Welsh Government’s targets, and that carbon intensive industries should be prioritised in plans so that the workforce is protected.

Labour Research Department findings

The research was conducted by the Labour Research Department on behalf of Wales TUC, to provide an evidence base of transition agreements in the UK and internationally which trade unions, employers and government in Wales could learn from. 

Using examples like the Plan del Carbón, which is supporting coalminers in unviable mines to retrain, to the creation of the Safety, Health and Environment reps role at Greggs, the report concludes that trade unions need to make sure that workers have a voice at both the workplace and strategic policy level, and that every workplace should have a negotiated ‘transition plan’, agreed between employers and unions, so that no worker is left behind.

A just transition

The report builds on Wales TUC’s campaign for the net zero targets to be achieved in line with the ‘just transition’ principle. Welsh Government’s ambition to reach net zero by 2050, and in the devolved public sector by 2030, will have a major impact on jobs, and trade unions want to make sure this benefits as many workers as possible – and doesn’t disadvantage anyone.

A just transition is defined by workers having a central voice in planning the transition, so it done with them not to them. It is rooted in the Paris Agreement, which requires parties to step up action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while taking into account “the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs”. As the collective voice of workers, trade unions and social partnership are integral to a just transition. 

The trade union body welcomed Welsh Government’s strong commitment to a just transition in the Net Zero Wales delivery plan, and wants to work with government and employer bodies to make this a reality for all workers, taking the lessons from this report.

Government action needed

Wales TUC is calling on Welsh Government to:

  • Work with unions and employers to devise a just transition strategy, prioritising pathways high carbon sectors.
  • Require evidence of a ‘transition agreement’ for all relevant sources of public funding.
  • Support the development of the green rep role in Welsh workplaces by facilitating an agreement in the devolved public sector for green reps to have paid time off to fulfil their duties, like negotiating transition plans.

Wales TUC General Secretary Shavanah Taj, who has been part of an international trade union delegation to COP26, said:

“This report is a wake up call to unions, employers and government about how we need to work together to transition our public services and economy towards the net zero goals. 

“Each and every government intervention needs to be defined by just transition, and planning is central to this. Decisions about the workforce, from the skills they will need to the sorts of job roles that will be required in a net zero Wales, need to be taken with the workforce, not just happen to them.

“Welsh Government is committed to a just transition, but the hard work starts now – we need to make sure that each and every workplace has a transition plan as soon as possible so that no worker is left behind by these targets.”

Editors note

Wales TUC has previously published reports on ‘A Green Recovery and a Just Transition” and research recently carried out for the Wales TUC by Transition Economics found that almost 60,000 jobs could be created in Wales in the next two years through government investment in key infrastructure projects. It has also published a toolkit for trade union reps on how they can make their workplaces greener and contribute to the net zero goal, and is providing training for trade union reps on this.

A copy of the Labour Research Department report, Negotiating the Future of Work: Net Zero, is available here: Negotiating the future of work: Net-zero | TUC. It will be formally launched at a Wales Climate Week event on 22 November 2021. Please contact to register.

About the Wales TUC

The Wales TUC exists to improve the economic and social conditions of workers in Wales, regardless of if they are currently in a job or not. Its mandate and purpose builds on the role of its individual affiliated trade unions. Workers join trade unions to represent their interests, and these unions affiliate to the TUC to establish a shared agenda, agreed democratically at a Congress held every two years and managed by the General Council which meets four times a year. Around 400,000 people are trade union members in Wales. The vast majority of these people are members of trade unions which are affiliated to the Wales TUC.


Joe Allen