Unions call for cross-party commission to deliver ‘just transition’ for workers
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has urged the UK government to set up a cross-party commission to ensure workers are not negatively impacted by the country’s shift to green energy.
In a report published today, the TUC said that workers, unions, businesses and consumers should be involved in the planning of a clean, affordable and reliable energy system.
Every worker must also be given access to training in the skills needed in a low-carbon economy, along with “guaranteed pathways” to new work, according to the report.
Moreover, the TUC recommended that employment standard protections be introduced to ensure new jobs are not of lower quality than the ones changed or superseded.
“Trade unions are committed to addressing the climate emergency," said TUC general secretary, Frances O'Grady. "A greener economy can be a fairer economy too, with new work and better jobs right across Britain.
“It’s vital to avoid the mistakes of the 1980s, when industrial change devastated communities because workers had no say. This time we need a plan that everyone can get behind, with workers’ voices at the heart of it.”
The report argues that a new commission should carry out a study of the social and regional impacts of a low-carbon transition, and of the necessary mitigation methods.
And companies should develop 'transition agreements' with unions that cover a range of issues, such as pay, job security, retirement policy, performance management, and equal opportunities.
The TUC also highlighted how workers have “transition-related knowledge”, and are most likely to understand the specific processes needed in shifting to cleaner energy and technologies.
But it warned that the adult education sector must be properly funded, and said the government should introduce ‘lifelong learning accounts’ for all adults so everyone has a personalised budget for training.
"The move to a low-carbon economy has potential opportunities for industrial policy and the quality of employment," the TUC report says. “The international trade union movement has called for a ‘just transition’ to a greener economy.
"However, the opportunities will not be realised unless the workers most affected have a seat at the table – they should be able to contribute to solutions, not be told after decisions have been made.”
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Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM