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Union makes green demands

WeldingTrade unions are moving onto green turf as folk working in electrical engineering, electronics and IT are asking for executives’ pay to be linked to hitting environmental targets.

The union Unite has published a report entitled ‘How Green Is My Workplace?’, which guides on how union representatives can raise awareness of environmental issues to make workplaces greener.

This is an interesting move. Greenbang hadn’t considered that while environmental performance is now being measured alongside profits (in some places), these eco-targets can also be used by unions if they need to put pressure on a company.

Here’s what they say:

In a survey of 10,000 Unite members in the electronics and IT sector, 83% believed that their workplace wasted energy and resources and 87% believed unions should be involved in designing and implementing measures that help to improve the impact of workplaces on the environment.

Workers can contribute to the preservation of the environment through raising awareness of environment issues and challenging their employers to take action. Through identifying the links between good environmental practice and getting a better deal for workers, unions can put climate change on the bargaining agenda.

Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said:
“Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing the world today. The Government is acting to tackle it, in particular through the Climate Change Bill.

“The commitment of industry to deal with climate change is growing in the UK. I believe that trade unions and their members have a vital role to play. I very much welcome the contribution that Unite, Britain’s biggest union, is making to this important debate. Trade Unionists can really help change to happen in the workplace as part of the move to a lower carbon economy. I hope that this publication will be widely read and will raise awareness of climate change.”

Unite national officer, Peter Skyte said:

“More Co2 is emitted by processes in the workplace than at home, and half of the energy used in the UK comes from workplaces. It makes perfect sense that unions should challenge employers to take action on climate change and the environment. Our members in IT and electronics are calling for statutory rights for union representatives to put the preservation of the environment on the bargaining table.

“We believe workers can contribute to the preservation of the environment. Innovative and dynamic changes are already taking place in workplaces because union members are getting involved.

“The outlook is very clear. No employer will make money from a dead planet and no worker will gain from being part of a poisoned population.”

If you are interested in Unite’s recommendations for a greener workplace, here we are then.

1. There should be statutory rights for union representatives to gain access to environmental impact information on companies and an attendant statutory duty for employers to report on their carbon footprint, including that of their supply chain and transport costs.
2. In cases of offshoring, companies should be made to report on the environmental impact of relocation to ensure that companies are not avoiding robust environmental regulation or labour standards by relocating.
3. Employers should seek to reduce travel to work transport emissions through increasing cycle facilities, providing loans for public transport costs, encouraging car pooling schemes, and allowing workers to be home based for part or all of their working time where appropriate. Flexible working should be a right for all workers, not simply a right to request.
4. Time off and access to learning and education should be available to all workers in order to raise awareness and understanding of environmental issues.
5. There should be statutory rights, facilities and recognition for the work of trade union environmental representatives and activists in the workplace.
6. Trade union representatives should have consultation rights on purchasing and supply decisions which can affect the environmental impact of the workplace.
7. Company executives should have their pay and bonuses linked to meeting environmental performance targets.
8. Corporate social responsibility should include duties to report on practices throughout the supply chain and to source materials and services from suppliers who adhere to core labour and environmental standards.
9. Government and industry must promote cleaner and greener manufacturing and employment in environmental services and technology sectors through increased public funding for research.
10. There should be a positive procurement strategy for government departments embracing environmental responsibility and respecting core labour standards.
Source: Unite the Union

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