Green Workplaces

Share this page

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

greenworkplaces logo

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:

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. 

Related links

GreenWorkplaces News - October 2015 Announcement: This is the last in the current series of TUC GreenWorkplaces newsletters. From now on, the TUC is encouraging green reps to join the UNIONREPS community where you will be able to share best practice and ideas with other union representatives. We’re hoping that...
06 October 2015
Download Strategies for a low carbon industrial future in Yorkshire and the Humber report [PDF] A new TUC report demonstrates the potential for the UK region of Yorkshire and Humber to become the leading low-carbon industrial zone in Europe. However, government policy reversals on support for renewable energy and low...
02 October 2015
Damaging low carbon investment: the TUC's submission to the Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry, Promoting sustainable development (August 2015), said that the government has announced 11 Treasury-led green policy reversals that drew widespread criticism from industry - motor manufacture, construction, energy project developers, the renewable energy sector, energy efficiency installers -...
22 September 2015
The government’s Trade Union Bill wants to empower “A Minister of the Crown” to cap the time and resources available to union reps in the public and private sectors sector to represent their members effectively. Yet growing awareness of the impacts of climate change on our daily lives has spurred...
04 August 2015
Touchstone Extras #14 | Download Money to Burn? Driving energy efficiency in the commercial sector [PDF] Although there are many examples of businesses seriously improving their building’s ‘footprint’, this often happens despite, rather than because of, help from good government schemes. This Touchstone Extra sets out the need to improve...
13 February 2015
A Christmas briefing, The treat of TTIP, UCU reps and networks, Dorchester green skills, TUC conference report back, Green reps south west courses, UCU and NUS: responsible futures, Lessons from Lima, No budget for a green economy, News in brief, New Publications, Events
17 December 2014
Green Workplaces Newsletter October 2014
06 November 2014
Frances O’Grady was one of the speakers at the TUC national green conference, Can we ever build a green economy? Thursday 6 November 2014. For more information about the conference visit Thanks Sue [Ferns]/ hard work as General Council lead on the environment. And thanks everybody for coming, not...
06 November 2014
This week, MPs are expected to hold a special debate on the future of the UK’s energy intensive industries. This Briefing argues that it’s vital to secure these “foundation” industries in our future low carbon economy. We have welcomed government support programmes which provide relief from energy costs, yet much...
10 September 2014
GreenWorkplaces News The Union Effect | UCU handbook | Green issues at Tolpuddle | Fruity Friday at AMEC |​ UCU builds networks | UNISON: Save our Buses | Unionlearn: Communities Living Sustainably | ShareAction: free training | People’s climate march |​ Congress motions | Energy efficiency | Fracking puts climate...
01 September 2014