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Climate change conference: fight to save the planet is a trade union issue

This article is over 13 years, 11 months old
A successful Campaign Against Climate Change trade union conference in London last Saturday attracted 300 people.
Issue 2088

A successful Campaign Against Climate Change trade union conference in London last Saturday attracted 300 people.

Members of many different unions took part in a highly politicised conference, where speaker after speaker pointed out that tackling climate change involves dramatically changing the way our society is organised.

Frances O’Grady, the deputy general secretary of the TUC, said that “waiting for the rich to exercise their moral duty” was pointless.

She said that the changes needed would only come about if trade unionists and ordinary people forced them.

Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the FBU firefighters’ union, won applause after attacking the government’s record.

He pointed out that Gordon Brown is attacking the public services needed to tackle the effects of climate change, such as floods and freak weather.

He said, “Telling the poor to tighten their belts is no good – the people who pay the price can’t be the poor here or across the world.”

The strategy of world leaders came under attack. Tony Kearns, the senior deputy general secretary of the CWU communication workers’ union, said, “Doing things like switching off lights is all well and good – but the reason the government hammers it home is because it exempts it from responsibility. The blame lies with global capitalism.”

Many spoke against the propaganda that tackling climate change ran counter to the interests of trade unionists.

They pointed out that investment in renewable energy, improving public transport and making buildings and appliances more efficient are all things that will create jobs.

The closing plenary stressed the need for trade unionists to take the fight back into their workplaces.

John McDonnell MP, who has been involved in the campaign against a third runway at Heathrow, spoke about the need to take direct action to stop climate change.

Elaine Graham-Leigh, Respect’s national organiser, agreed saying, “We can make the government put people before profit – but the key point is that we will have to make them.”

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