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Offshore: North Sea Oil workers on the future of our energy system

Reclaiming Our Energy

By Mary Church, Craig Dalzell, Roz Foyer, Sean Sweeney, Mika Minio-Paluello, et. al. - Just Transition Partnership, March 8, 2023

An online conference organised by the Just Transition Partnership to set out why public ownership of energy production and infrastructure is an essential part of any plans to hit climate change targets.

This event featured experts on how the privatised energy system is giving us fuel poverty, soaring energy prices and profits; and failing to deliver a Just Transition as well as reviewing the publicly-owned solutions in key sectors, from local to national levels.

Introduction: Mary Church - Reclaiming our Energy introduction

Offshore energy workers call for public ownership in UK’s net-zero carbon transition

By Alex Lawson - The Guardian, March 6, 2023

Coalition of workers, unions and climate campaigners aims to safeguard shift from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy sources.

Workers in the UK’s offshore oil, gas and renewables sector have called for public ownership of energy companies to ensure that the country’s transition to net zero protects jobs, communities and the environment.

The call comes amid a series of demands to government from a coalition of offshore workers, unions and climate campaigners that aim to shift the industry from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy sources.

A survey of 1,092 offshore workers for the wide-ranging report, Our Power: Offshore Workers, found that 90% of respondents backed its demands, which also include: government-backed jobs guarantees; an offshore training passport that supports workers to retrain in the renewables sector; a commitment to incentivise investment in ports and factories making products such as wind turbines; and equal pay for migrant workers.

Concerns are growing over the pace of Britain’s transition away from fossil fuels and its ability to create green jobs in manufacturing, production and operations. Data from the consultancy PwC shows the number of jobs being created in the renewable energy industry is growing four times faster than the overall UK employment market. But more than one-third of these roles are based in London and the south-east, particularly in professional and scientific roles.

The report argues that public ownership of energy firms would help to ensure a “just energy transition” offering greater job security and conditions. It paints a picture of long stints at sea and low pay in the face of the cost of living crisis, with British workers paid three times as much as migrant staff.

Major reform needed to secure ‘just’ green transition for offshore workers

By staff - Morning Star, March 6, 2023

INVESTMENT and reform of the energy sector are needed to secure a just green transition for offshore workers, unions and environmental campaigners are warning today.

A new report by transport union RMT, Friends of the Earth and others demands investment in ports and manufacturing as well as an offshore training passport for oil and gas workers moving to the renewables sector.

Offshore migrant workers must also get equal pay and a higher minimum wage should be available to all, the groups added.

RMT regional organiser Jake Molloy stressed employees must be “fully engaged and empowered in the process if we are to achieve a real just transition.”

“The lack of a real plan from politicians and industry is fuelling workforce discontent and disillusionment,” he said.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Mary Church said: “Our current energy system is destroying our climate, is unaffordable to millions and is failing the people who work in it.

“Failure from politicians to properly plan and support the transition to renewables is leaving workers totally adrift on the whims of oil and gas companies, and the planet to burn.”

Our Power: Offshore Workers’ Demands for a Just Energy Transition

By Rosemary Harris, Gabrielle Jeliazkov, and Ryan Morrison - Our Power, March 6, 2023

Over the past two years, we’ve come together with offshore workers to build demands for a just energy transition. These workers developed 10 demands covering training and skills, pay, job creation, investment and public ownership.

We surveyed over 1000 additional offshore workers and over 90% agreed with these demands. This plan is comprehensive in scope, transformative in scale and deliverable now.

Below you will find a series of resources setting out the demands and the paths we can take to turn them into reality.

We need a rapid transition away from oil and gas that protects workers, communities and the climate. But the government has no plan to phase out oil and gas production in the North Sea.

Oil and gas workers are ready to lead a just transition away from oil and gas, but they are caught in a trap of exploitation and fear created by oil and gas companies. Working conditions are plummeting, just as profits, prices and temperatures are soaring.

The UK and Scottish Governments must listen to workers to make this transition work for all of us. These demands lay out a comprehensive plan, which includes:

  • Removing barriers that make it harder for oil and gas workers to move into the renewable industry.
  • Ensuring safety, job security and fair pay across the energy industry.
  • Sharing the benefits of our energy system fairly, with public investment in energy companies and communities.

Workers have told us what they need for a just transition, now we need to work with them to make it happen.

Read the report (PDF).

The Scottish Greens must embed trade union representation into its major decision making bodies

By Jen Bell and Guy Ingerson - Bright Green, October 9, 2022

The impacts of climate breakdown are becoming more apparent every year. In the last few months alone we have witnessed heatwaves, drought, and floods. These extreme weather events have devastated communities, directly in places such as Pakistan, and indirectly closer to home, with rising food prices. Bold action is needed for our species to survive and thrive beyond this century.

We know what needs to be done, but too often vested interests seek to delay or subvert the action required. If we allow politicians, focused on their own ambitions, and corporations, concerned only with their profits, to control the transition, we’ll end up with more of the same. Luckily, Greens have an ally on our journey: the trade union movement. If we’re serious about achieving social justice for all, we need to stand shoulder to shoulder with the workers who’ve been fighting for it.

For over 150 years, trade unionists have known that corporations and bosses don’t care one bit about the value of our lives or our environment. We’re all just numbers on a balance sheet to them. But when we organise, or withdraw our labour, we smack them upside the head with reality. As RMT’s senior assistant general secretary, Eddie Dempsey, said: “There isn’t a train that moves in this country, not a bin gets emptied, or a shelf that gets stacked without the kind, generous permission of the working class.”

Whether it be a living wage, health and safety regulations, limits on working hours, paid holidays, parental leave, and much more – trade unionists have written the text book on how to fight for the core Green values of social, economic and environmental justice. They understand that our lives and our work should have value and dignity.

Living Wages on a Living Planet!

By staff - Just Transition Partnership, October 6, 2022

JUST TRANSITION PARTNERSHIP STATEMENT ON CLIMATE JUSTICE, THE COST OF LIVING AND INDUSTRIAL DISPUTES

Soaring inflation has workers facing a real terms pay cut on top of years of stagnating wages. After a summer of heatwaves and drought, we are heading into a winter where millions won’t be able to afford to heat their homes.

Yet, as poverty and climate breakdown impact upon millions of people, the energy companies driving both crises are raking in massive profits. Workers are striking to defend wages and services while climate campaigners are stepping up their actions against profiteering companies. Both confront government policies which disregard the concerns of climate, environment and workers.

The solutions to these crises are the same:

We need a just transition that includes massive sustainable investment in renewable energy and provides secure work, affordable publicly-owned energy and protection from the volatility of energy markets – with plans to plough profits into renewables and high quality services using both taxation and legal duties on private companies; all delivered by well-paid, skilled and secure workforce.

These things won’t happen without workers in their trade unions organising to defend their wages, their jobs, their future and their rights through the power of collective bargaining. The workers’ movement and the climate justice movement need to build our collective power if we are to defend our future. That is why climate justice solidarity with workers on strike is growing and trade unions are backing urgent action for a Just Transition.

We’re Fighting for Our Future:

• living wages based on cost of living pay rises now

• cheap, accessible and clean energy

• green jobs

• a safe planet to live on

Global Climate Jobs Conference 2022: Fossil fuel workers and climate jobs

Support for rail strikes from Just Transition Partnership

By staff - Just Transition Partnership, August 18, 2022

The Just Transition Partnership sends solidarity to RMT, TSSA and ASLEF members taking industrial action to protect their pay, jobs and working conditions, and in the wider fight for a sustainable public transport system run for people and the planet, not private greed. Billions are being cut from our transport system at a time when increasing investment is vital to ensure a fully public, affordable, integrated and sustainable transport system.

Our railways are already being impacted by the effects of climate change, putting additional demands on a stretched workforce providing an essential public service. We need a well-paid transport workforce with secure conditions and it is indefensible to expect transport and other workers to take an effective pay cut as inflation and the costs of energy rise, especially while the profits of oil companies soar.

The UK government is failing on the climate crisis and the cost of living crisis. It has no integrated transport plans, favouring private companies which make vast profits rather than making transport affordable and our air breathable; in Scotland as well as the rest of the UK train and bus services are being cut. These actions are symptomatic of disregard for the concerns of climate, environment and workers.

The solutions to these crises have the same foundations – public investment into decarbonised and high-quality services using both taxation and legal duties on private companies; all delivered by a well-paid, skilled and secure workforce. These things won’t happen without workers in their trade unions organising to defend their wages, their jobs, their future and their rights through the power of collective bargaining. The workers movement and the climate justice movement need to build our collective power if we are to defend our future, that is why we send our solidarity to the workers on strike.

Oil and Gas Price Rises Fuel the Case for a Just Transition Now

By staff - Just Transition Partnership, April 22, 2022

The dramatic rise in the prices of oil and gas, compounded by the reductions in supplies as a result of the war in Ukraine, have demonstrated the failings of our broken energy system. The social and environmental damage it causes have underlined the case for a just transition to renewable sources of energy, giving people power over the energy system. This must be planned to create good and secure new jobs and to protect the living standards of the poorest, the wellbeing of all and the health of the planet.

Consequences of fuel price rises for citizens and corporations

Wholesale gas prices quadrupled in the last year, according to Ofgem’s statement1 made on 3 February when it announced that the energy price cap (the maximum prices which energy retailers can charge) would rise by 54%. Further rises are anticipated in September.

On the same day , Shell announced profits of $19.3bn for 2021. In the last few months profits made by oil corporations have soared. “The largest oil and gas companies made a combined $174bn in profits in the first nine months of the year” reported the Guardian2.

National Energy Action said that in the UK the number of households in fuel poverty is expected to go up from four million in October 2021, to 6.5 million after April’s price rise3. That would go up again to 8.5 million in October this year, if the typical bill increases to £3,000.

As Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said on 3 February:The energy price cap rise will turn the cost-of-living crisis into a catastrophe for millions of people. This will plunge at least one in four families in Britain into fuel poverty”.4 With rates of inflation higher than wage increases and benefit upgrade, living standards are under threat.

The consequences for employment of rising prices and falling incomes have been predicted to be negative across the economy as a whole. In the energy sector there may be some stronger recruitment where production can be increased in the short-term in response to higher wholesale prices but in a volatile market the longer-term consequences are probably going to be determined mainly by the direction of government policies on both energy efficiency and fossil fuel licensing , with the prospect of largest employment rises in energy efficiency.

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