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Public and Commerical Services Union (PCS)

Labour and Climate Activists Protest Against Anti-union Laws

By staff - Free Our Unions, October 12, 2022

Around 80 activists from a range of campaign groups and unions protested outside the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on 10 October, as part of an action called by Free Our Unions and Earth Strike UK’s Empower the Unions initiative. As far as we know, this is the first piece of direct action called specifically to protest the Truss government’s plans for new anti-union laws since Truss revealed the policy.

BEIS was chosen because it will likely be central to developing the legislation for new restrictions on strikes, and because it is a key department in terms of climate policy. Free Our Unions has sought active coordination with activists from the climate movement, and Earth Strike UK’s Empower the Unions initiative seeks to highlight the specific ways in which anti-union laws constrain workers’ ability to take action in defence of the climate.

Speakers at the protest included Mark Boothroyd (A&E nurse and Unite activist); Sab (Earth Strike UK activist and Industrial Workers of the World organier); Ruth Cashman (Lambeth Unison); Jared Wood (RMT London Transport Regional Organiser); Ria Patel (Green Party Equality and Diversity spokesperson); EC (PCS rep); Andy Warren (firefighter and local rep for the FBU); Hamish (Exctinction Rebellion Trade Unionists); and Benedict Flexen (Earth Strike UK: Empower the Unions).

Speeches were punctuated by chanting, accompanied by drumming from the Extinction Rebellion samba band.

Following the protest, an assembly took place in a venue nearby, discussing various aspects of the politics of anti-union laws, and proposals for campaigning on the issue forward in our workplaces and unions.

Global Climate Jobs Conference: From resistance to a just transition

Global Climate Jobs Conference: Building Climate Jobs Campaigns

The UK Government's Nuclear Scam

On Inflation and Working Class Struggle

By anonymous - angryworkers.org, June 17, 2022

On Saturday 18th of June, (there was) a national TUC demo in London, and as part of the build up, we were invited to sit on a panel hosted by the People’s Assembly called ‘Wages Up, Bills Down, Tories Out’. We were joined by six other panelists from the RMT, Bristol Co-operative Alliance and the Tribune, Bristol Trades Council and the NEU, the TUC and PCS, the Green and Labour Councillors for Ashley Ward, and the Secretary for Unite South West, who chaired the meeting.

Below is the transcript of the input from one AngryWorkers comrade about the current crisis, followed by a report from a comrade on the meeting in general.

I work as a housekeeper at Southmead hospital and I am a GMB rep there. I previously worked for several years in warehouses and food factories. I can see every day how people who earn around the minimum wage are struggling more.

I think we’re in a crisis in more ways than one. It’s a cost of living crisis, yes. It’s also coinciding with a long-running crisis of working class organisation and militancy (e.g. the fact that NHS workers can’t even enforce an actual pay rise, despite all the public support and the fact that we slogged our guts out in the pandemic, says a lot). And it’s also a crisis of the system where there aren’t any obvious answers.

Labour movement agendas in conflict over decarbonisation pathways

By Les Levidow - Greener Jobs Alliance, June 7, 2022

The Just Transition concept has sought to avoid socially unjust means and consequences of a low-carbon transition. Alternatives could provide the basis for a common agenda of the labour movement. Yet trade unions have had divergent perspectives on decarbonisation pathways, especially as regards the potential role of technological solutions. 

Such conflict has focused on Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS). This is favourably called ‘carbon abatement’ or pejoratively called a ‘technofix’. As one reason for US trade-unions supporting CCS and thus the fossil fuel industry, often they have achieved relatively greater job security and wages there; such gains may seem jeopardised by substituting renewable energy.

UK CCS agendas focus on the prospect to decarbonise natural gas into hydrogen. This agenda unites the UK ‘energy unions’ with their members’ employers, as a cross-class alliance for a CCS fix. From a critical perspective, this seeks to accumulate capital by perpetuating natural gas, while undermining or delaying its renewable competitors.

Trade-union divergences have arisen in many ways. For a Just Transition, ITUC has advocated phasing out ‘unabated coal’, implying that coal with CCS could continue indefinitely. In the name of climate justice, the TUC has advocated CCS as a means to continue fossil fuels within a ‘balanced energy’ policy. By contrast, according to the PCS, CCS ‘is not yet a proven technology at scale’, and we don’t have the luxury to wait; it counterposes a strategy of energy democracy.

Such political divergences within the labour movement have arisen around Just Transition proposals at TUC conferences, likewise around agendas for a Green New Deal. In 2019 these were promoted within the US Democratic Party and UK Labour Party. Both underwent internal conflicts over decarbonisation pathways, expressing conflicts within the labour movement. 

Unions crucial to development of climate movement

By staff - Public and Commercial Services Union, May 25, 2022

The trade union movement is crucial to the development of a climate movement, PCS conference heard in a debate on the impact and aftermath of COP26.

Motion A41, moved by Mairtin from DWP Glasgow branch on Wednesday (25) afternoon, criticised the government for greenwashing by promoting market mechanisms as the central plank to solve the climate emergency through emissions trading or carbon offsetting or some other accountancy trick. But leaving solutions to the market will not work.

Mairtin said we will take no lectures from the government on environmental issues: “We’ve been taking notice of environmental issues and talking about diversification for decades. We represent the poorest and most marginalised in society who will be most affected by the environmental disaster.

“We live in the ravages of the environmental crisis and we are the ones who will rebuild our communities.”

That COP26 – the UN Climate Change Conference which took place in Glasgow last year, marked a new level of mass campaigning over the environmental crisis. There was praise for the COP26 Coalition, a coalition of groups and individuals mobilising around climate justice during COP26, for becoming a “dynamic movement involving environmental campaigns, religious organisations, trade unions and the left.”

The motion, which was carried unanimously, said that there are confusions and disagreements that need to be engaged with, such as the belief that moving away from a carbon-based economy will lead to job losses.

Angus from DWP Cambridgeshire who seconded the motion, said COP26 was a ‘cop-out 26’.

“PCS has led the way promoting the green agenda, this needs to continue and we also need to provide more support for our environmental reps,” he said.

The motion said that climate action must take account of the inequality of carbon emissions with the biggest emitters compensating the lowest emitters for climate change, recognised by COP18 in Doha, 2012 as the ‘climate debt’.

Jackie Green, supporting the motion on behalf of the NEC, highlighted how our union is developing a network of green reps nationally.

“As we look to move into a different phase after COP26, we look to mobilise around key events, including the TUC demo on 18 June,” she said.

The motion called on the NEC to:

  • Commit to engage fully with any new coalition that emerges out of the COP26 coalition.
  • Develop a network of green reps and equip them with the knowledge they need through dedicated training that happens on a regular basis.
  • Aim to build regional networks of reps based across different civil service departments.
  • Work in the wider trade union movement to engage other trade unions on this issue and develop cross-union networks.
  • Use those networks and work with the successor to the COP26 coalition to organise a trade union conference around the demand for a Just Transition to a more sustainable economy.

Aiming for the Sky: A Just Transition for the Aviation Industry

Public and Commercial Services Union: Action is Needed Now on Climate Change

By Staff - Public and Commercial Services Union, November 26, 2021

Addressing climate change and environmental damage should be used as an opportunity to improve the lives of all workers and communities.

The government still lacks a plan for how it will implement its net zero carbon targets, including ensuring we have a fully resourced civil service that is set up to deliver on this. PCS members are critical to a Just Transition, for example in DWP ensuring the temporary work coaches hired to deal with the Covid crisis are made permanent to deal with the climate crisis and help workers transition into jobs in the so called green economy.

PCS ‘s climate change sub committee has written the following statement:

COP26 – no time for tears, we need action

PCS stands with the chorus of voices angry at the outcome of the COP26 climate negotiations but determined to ensure that the era of injustice is over. As UK COP President Alok Sharmer’s banged his gavel to signal agreement on the Glasgow Climate Pact his call for unity rang hollow, just as his tears.

There can be no question this is a pact for elite nations and the powerful fossil fuel lobby against workers and peoples across the world. The shameless disregard for the nations and peoples on the frontline of climate change pleading to be listened to, was paralleled by the voices of workers outside the negotiating rooms on strike in Glasgow throughout the COP. A recognition that climate justice is workers justice, and workers justice is climate justice.

As part of the COP26 coalition, PCS has been proud to be part of mobilising our movement around the COP alongside the wider climate justice movement. But this mobilisation does not stop here. As we set out in our briefing to members ahead of the COP, market forces won’t save our jobs and what we have been witnessing is a reconfiguring of the economy to ensure the greening of profits.

Whilst financiers at the COP set out the new net zero finance architecture, the business-as -usual tax avoidance and evasion remains in place. We need a new pro-public architecture for a decarbonised economy with assets such as energy, water, transport and communications returned to full public ownership with democratic controls.

There will be no just transition if left to the bankers, and we cannot be fooled by our politicians greenwashing their so called climate ambition in the language of the climate movement. Alok Sharmer and Mark Carney are not part of our movement, they are against our class and we need to ensure we build a wall of solidarity against their next onslaught.

For example, telling us that the transition is too expensive, when not doing the things we urgently need to do now is an irreversible cost. This includes ensuring we have a fully resourced and well paid civil service that can help deliver a whole economy decarbonisation plan for workers and their communities. As we learnt from the Covid crisis, there is money, and will not be able to deliver on climate action with a pared down civil service as proposed in the last budget announcement.

PCS members are at the heart of the Just Transition. Our members have a vital role to play in the work of collecting taxes, delivering social protections such as real living wage benefits, and supporting workers into new green jobs; looking after green spaces and public facilities such as in the Royal Parks or getting fossil fuel funders out of our museums and galleries; growing the trees for reforestation.

With the UK a signatory to the Just Transition statement announced at the COP, PCS will be seeking a discussion on how this will be taken forward within the UK Civil Service, and other of our employers. We will also be stepping up our efforts across the union to put demands for action on climate.

Climate change is already here, impacting our sisters and brothers at home and around the world. There is no time to waste. We need to build on the alliances we have made mobilising for the COP, strengthening our power to win on climate and to win for workers.

COP26: What Do Unions Want?

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