Green UNISON Day 20 September – We must act on the Climate Emergency

UNISON Scotland is urging branches to organise a day of action on climate change on our second Green UNISON Day – on 20 September.

As General Secretary Dave Prentis said last month, “the climate crisis is the greatest single threat humanity faces.”

In calling for nationalising energy suppliers, he referred to the escalating demands for urgent climate action, highlighting recent protests by Extinction Rebellion and the school student climate strikers, along with Sir David Attenborough’s powerful documentaries, raising awareness of the impacts, including massive plastic pollution in the oceans.

UNISON has worked for strong action on climate change for many years. Trade unionists campaigning for green workplace policies describe global warming as an ‘urgent health and safety issue’ for the planet. UNISON has lobbied, with many others in the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition, on the need for strong greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets with accompanying policies to deliver them.

UNISON Scotland’s Depute Convener Stephen Smellie (pictured above) made the case for a Just Transition in Scottish Left Review earlier this year and he and Aberdeenshire branch’s Kate Ramsden, both UNISON NEC members, delivered a training session on Just Transition policies to protect workers to young Friends of the Earth campaigners from across Europe meeting in Aberdeen last month.

As this STUC blog highlights, workers at Scottish fabrication firm Bi-Fab, Caley Railworks and Fergusons shipyard have been betrayed. Their experiences demonstrate the need for a strong industrial strategy, with public ownership the key to delivering a green industrial revolution.

Last year’s Green UNISON Day saw branches holding stalls, getting members to pledge to take action to reduce their own carbon footprint and completing surveys to gauge the actions their employers are taking on this crucial issue.
In addition several branches agreed to appoint a Green Environment Rep.

Since then the importance of the issue has increased dramatically. We’ve had the UN IPCC report on action to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C, the Committee on Climate Change report with subsequent legislative action by the Scottish and UK governments. We have seen governments and some councils declare climate emergencies and a huge rise in protests such as Extinction Rebellion and the school students’ strikes, inspired by Greta Thunberg.

This year’s Green UNISON Day is timed to coincide with and show solidarity to the school climate strikers’ action on 20 September.

Momentum is building for the young campaigners who are organising a week of action, 20-27 Sept. (See Scottish Youth Climate Strike for more information as their plans develop.)

UNISON is liaising with other unions and the wider climate movement over how best to show solidarity to the young campaigners – who are aware that obviously anti trade union legislation means we can’t and won’t be organising strike action, but can show support for them in other ways.

We will update you over the coming weeks as plans develop.

In the meantime, please sign and share these petitions – on strong Scottish climate legislation and policy action – and on the right to food, which is key to securing a socially and environmentally just food system in Scotland.

Stop Climate Chaos Scotland

Scottish Food Coalition