Unions have today warned that they may not be able to support global climate change legislation if it fails to protect workers’ jobs, says the TUC.
Although unions plan to support the United Nation’s ambitious climate change treaty in Paris next year, they are concerned that as the world shifts to a low-carbon emission economy, policies and measures seem to have forgotten about the impact on the world’s workforce.
‘Just Transition’ is a framework for a fair and sustainable shift to a low-carbon economy, proposed by unions and supported by environmental NGOs. The framework arose out of a concern that periods of economic restructuring in the past have often happened in a haphazard fashion, leaving ordinary workers and their communities to bear the brunt of the move to new ways of producing wealth. In the UK, many communities are still paying the price for the rapid shift away from industrial production over the last 30 years.
The current draft treaty is missing text, agreed at the UN climate conference in Cancun in 2010, which urged “parties in implementing their policies and measures to promote a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs.”
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“The labour movement is increasingly mobilizing to support an ambitious UN climate change treaty in Paris next year. We are conscious that all jobs are at risk without a commitment to emission reductions, adaptation, finance and technology. This is why we have always supported the UN process.
“However, the lack of thought being given to the possible effect on workers, added to the absence of references for the need for a just transition, has raised major concerns among the international trade union delegation in Lima.
“Governments previously agreed on the importance of climate change agreements addressing people’s concerns about jobs, livelihoods and prosperity. The process in Lima appears to be is failing to live up to those promises.”