By Sarah Bates
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Strike to stop climate chaos

This article is over 4 years, 11 months old
Issue 2662
Climate strikers demanding justice for the planet
Climate strikers demanding justice for the planet (Pic: Guy Smallman)

There are just eleven weeks to go until a critical event for everyone who wants to combat climate catastrophe.

Millions of people are likely to walk out worldwide on 20 September to demand that governments act urgently on climate change and that bosses stop polluting our planet.

Student strikers have issued a challenge to workers—to walk out of their workplaces and take to the streets alongside them on the day.

“We can’t fight on our own—it’s not enough,” school striker Patrick told the Marxism Festival in London last Sunday.

“We need a general workers’ movement—it should be them out on the streets as well.”


And workers are beginning to organise action.

One worker at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told Socialist Worker, “People are really enthusiastic about the strike and our younger PCS union reps are ready to walk out straight away.”

An electronic calendar invite was sent to thousands of Defra workers across Britain telling them about the climate strike.

“We staged walkouts the day that Tony Blair went to war in Iraq—and we’re using that template,” said the worker.

Defra workers are also linking climate change to the issue of job security.

“We’ve drafted an open letter to our permanent secretary,” said the worker.

“It asks that the hundreds of workers hired on short-term Brexit contracts are put on permanent contracts to deal with the climate crisis.”

At one university, workers have agreed to strike on the day. And a charity worker in London told Socialist Worker, “I think the chances of getting a walkout on the day are reasonably high. People are sympathetic to the idea that we need to do more about climate change.”

She added, “Some people have suggested trying to have 30-minute walkouts.

“In some places that might be what happens, but I don’t want the idea of 30-minute walkouts to limit people if they can get more.”

The insurgent climate change movement has correctly argued that there can be no more “business as usual”.

This applies to bosses who continue with digging for coal, airport expansion, plastic production and fracking.

But it also applies to how workers, students and socialists fight back.

Walkouts across Britain would be a roar of defiance against an elite that gambles away our futures in the pursuit of profit.

Patrick said that action on 20 September “is just the start”. “We need to build the strike, and the next one and the next one until we get system change, not climate change,” he said.

“We stand together as workers today and the workers of tomorrow for a better future.”

How can I organise?

Call a workplace meeting for all trade unionists and workers not in a union to discuss the climate crisis. Invite speakers from Extinction Rebellion, the Campaign against Climate Change and the school strikes.

Set up “climate emergency” stalls in your canteen and organise a lunchtime demo.

Think big—the school strikes combined a bold vision with confidence. Workers should match their courage.

Argue for a strike on 20 September.

Some people might be worried about being disciplined if they join unofficial strikes. But the bigger the action, the less chance of retaliation from bosses.

Join the Summer Uprising

Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists are preparing for actions next week in five major cities.

People in Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds and London are getting ready to take to the streets.

“Summer Uprising” protests are due to begin from next Monday with XR groups planning on staging major disruptions in city centres. XR promises “civil disobedience, family friendly spaces, love and music and an object of significance at every site.”

The action follows the International Rebellion in April that saw thousands take part in direct action that shut down key parts of central London for ten days.

For more information go to

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