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Trades Union Congress (TUC)

The TUC guide to building retrofit at work

By staff - Trades Union Congress, February 8, 2023

Why advocate for retrofit?

Cold and draughty buildings with poor air quality affect our well-being and health at work. Running buildings is increasingly expensive due to the cost of living and energy bill crisis, and is the third largest carbon emitting sector globally. Done in the right way, maintenance and retrofit can fix these issues. This leaflet provides suggestions for trade unionists for why and how to start advocating for building retrofit at work.

Read the report (Link).

The Climate Contradictions of Gary Smith

By Paul Atkin - Greener Jobs Alliance, September 21, 2023

In agreeing to be interviewed by the Spectator under the title the folly of Net Zero GMB General Secretary Gary Smith lets his members down; not least because remarks like these from a leading trade unionist help give Rishi Sunak encouragement to accelerate his retreat from the government’s already inadequate climate targets.

The phrase “the folly of Net Zero” makes as much sense as “the folly of getting into the lifeboats when the ship is sinking”

Difficulties in making a transition to sustainability does not mean that making it isn’t essential, and the faster we move the less damage is done. We can see that damage all around us even now. 

Gary doesn’t seem to get this, any more than Rishi Sunak does, and he latches on to some of the same lines as the PM does, albeit with a more pungent turn of phrase. To go through these point by point, quotes are either directly from Gary Smith or the Spectator.

Climate and Ecology Bill: Uniting Solutions

By Tina Rothery - Greeener Jobs Alliance, May 21, 2023

The first page of the Greener Jobs Alliance website makes clear what’s needed to face the challenges posed by ever increasing harm to the climate – uniting campaigns and bringing together the solutions.

I work with the campaign group, Zero Hour, on the Climate & Ecology Bill, and as highlighted on our website, we make clear we think the same:

“Zero Hour has been working hard to build a broad and representative alliance of support for the CE Bill, including 165 MPs and Peers, 230 local authorities, 144 leading scientists, 465 organisations—including The Co-operative Bank, Women’s Institutes, National Education Union, and University College—alongside 30,000 members of the public.”

Bringing together a diverse range of groups and organisations to create and support solutions that are essential to a just transition just makes sense—and the power of ‘unions’ has never been clearer. This article asks that the GJA, and its supporters, consider joining Zero Hour in this union – and supporting the CE Bill as one of the solutions.

New TUC video: plan for heatwaves, cut energy bills, and take climate action!

By Anna Markova - Greener Jobs Alliance, April 29, 2023

The weather’s turning warmer – have you got a heatwave plan at work?

The new TUC video and leaflet shows how union reps and activists can plan for heatwaves and cold snaps, save their workplace money on energy bills, and take climate action at work. 

Watch the video here.

  • 2023 is predicted to beat heat records again – if workers struggled with hot temperatures last year where you work, this year will likely be worse. 
  • Employers will be worried about the cost of keeping the workplace warm in the winter and cool in the summer – energy bills went up two- to three-fold last year and are expected to stay high.

You can protect workers from extreme heat, save energy and mobilise union members by taking climate action.

Read the guide here.

Did you try doing this and want to share your experience? Would you like some more support with future-proofing the building you work in? Emailclimate@tuc.org.uk

TUC Retrofit Explainer

Union leaders call for new investment to meet net-zero targets

By staff - Morning Star, April 12, 2023

UNION leaders are calling for new investment to meet net-zero targets, saying it would create high-quality jobs in transport and manufacturing.

The TUC has set out an investment plan for public transport across England and Wales, arguing it would improve quality of life and boost the economy.

The union organisation says its proposals fill a gaping hole in the government’s recently published net-zero strategy, which it claims fails to explain how it will achieve a shift away from car use.

The TUC says its plan would require an average of £9.9 billion in annual capital expenditure up to 2035.

Extra operating costs for expanded bus, tram and rail services would reach £18.8bn a year by 2030, its report, published today, says.

The plan is estimated to boost annual economic growth by £52.1bn by 2030 through productivity gains, creating 140,000 jobs in the bus, tram, and rail sectors.

A further 830,000 jobs would be created in manufacturing, construction, and infrastructure for buses and trams up to 2035, says the TUC.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “Everyone knows that we have to cut carbon emissions and that switching to public transport is a big part of how do it.

“Investing in public transport will help us meet net-zero targets and reduce the threat of catastrophic climate change, and it creates jobs throughout England and Wales, boosts the economy in every community and improves everyone’s quality of life.

“Commuters will have faster and cheaper journeys to work. New connections will bring new businesses to places where people need economic opportunities.

“We will save lives with cleaner air, and we will reduce loneliness and isolation by making everyone better connected, wherever you live.

“With this report, we’ve done the work that Conservative ministers should have done with their empty and incompetent net-zero strategy.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch, who will be speaking at the launch of the report today, said it shows that investing in public transport is vital for fighting climate change and delivering significant economic and social benefits.

He said: “This report shows that there is an alternative where we can expand and invest in our transport infrastructure.

“It is therefore vital that bus and rail services all run as a public service under a public ownership model which is free from profit-hungry multimillion-pound private companies.”

RMT welcomes public transport and climate report

By staff - National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), April 12, 2023

RMT responds to TUC transport and climate change report.

Responding to the TUC Public Transport for the Climate Emergency report, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "This is a welcome report that shows investing in public transport is not only vital for fighting climate change but that it will deliver significant economic and social benefits for everyone.

"The government - in league with private transport operators, are ideologically committed to securing the maximum profit for shareholders. This approach is leading to the managed decline of rail and bus services across the country.

"This report shows that there is an alternative where we can expand and invest in our transport infrastructure. This will create thousands of jobs in across every region of England and Wales, helping build strong local economies and at the same time, secure an environmentally sustainable future.

"It is therefore vital that bus and rail services all run as public service under a public ownership model which is free from profit hungry multimillion pound private companies."

The full report can be viewed here.

Public transport fit for the climate emergency: More services, more jobs, less emissions

By Liz Blackshaw; Gareth Forest; Kamaljeet Gill, et. al. - Trades Union Congress (TUC), April 11, 2023

Public transport has a vital role to play in decarbonising our economy and safeguarding a planet fit for our children and grandchildren to live in. Improving our public transport is not only about protecting our environment, it’s also about the quality of life in communities all over England and Wales.

Decent public transport is essential for access to work across the economy, it also means that grandparents get to see their grandkids, and working parents get home earlier to spend time with their children, we call get to share in culture and entertainment. It means that teenagers can get to school and adult learners can access training that can transform lives. It means people on low incomes can visit town centre shops, and businesses can get the customers they need to reinvigorate local economies.

For too long, people have had to put up with inadequate services. All too often, buses are expensive and infrequent, with routes that get cut because the private providers are driven more by private profit than by a public service ethos. Train services are expensive and chaotic, with services frequently delayed – when they’re not cancelled at short notice due to staffing levels cut to the bone and maintenance services outsourced and short-staffed. The transport workforce has suffered alongside passengers. Years of frozen pay and attacks on terms and conditions are a poor reward for those on the frontline during the pandemic.

Public transport fit for the climate emergency sets out a plan for the investment in public transport throughout England and Wales that has long been needed. From town and cities, to villages and rural communities, this plan would mean more services, new routes, cheaper fares and modern fleets of low emission vehicles. This radical transformation must be funded by central government and delivered by local and regional transport authorities. And we should all get a say on the transport needs where we live and how this investment is allocated.

Passengers, local communities, and transport workers should all be consulted on public transport improvement plans where they live and work.

The investment proposed by this report would achieve the transition to low-carbon transport needed to honour our climate action agreements with the rest of the world. It would generate green and sustainable economic growth in regions across England and Wales. And it would directly create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the transport sector, plus many more in construction and manufacturing supply chains. As well as cheaper, more extensive and reliable buses, trams and trains, we would have cleaner air to breath. And the roads would be less congested for all road users.

To make sure that every community benefits as fully as possible, with ongoing investment and the best value fares, our public transport should be publicly owned.

The climate emergency means we must act. But the benefits of affordable, reliable and extensive public transport are so great that we should want to anyway – for the lower cost of living and higher quality of life it will bring. This report lays out the blueprint for 21st century public transport, all that’s left is to build it.

Download a copy of this publication here (link).

Net zero strategy should be for everyone not just ‘Conservative Party friends and donors’

By staff - Trades Union Congress, March 30, 2023

Commenting on the publication today (Thursday) of the government’s updated strategy to reach the UK’s targets for net zero emissions, TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said:

“This century, the nations that lead the way in getting to net zero will be the most successful in delivering good jobs for everyone. But this strategy falls a long way short of the ambition needed to seize this opportunity for Britain.

“Investment in clean energy, green tech and new ways of delivering energy-intensive products is still far too low. And workers lack the guarantees that existing jobs will be protected, and new green jobs will be good, unionised jobs.

“Reaching net zero is a collective enterprise of the whole nation. If we approach it that way – including a genuine voice for working people – we can create a much more prosperous future for everyone. But this looks like a strategy influenced more by Conservative Party friends and donors than the interests of working people in the UK.”

On the government’s ‘energy security plan’, also published today, Paul added:

“These piecemeal measures don’t add up to a national plan on the scale needed. Not for our net zero target, nor for protecting jobs and industry.

“Conservative ministers can’t even get their act together on the low-hanging fruit. The home improvements scheme to reduce energy use and cut bills covers less than a tenth of the social housing that needs it. And there is no reassurance for energy-intensive industries that cannot cope with spiking energy prices.

“The overall approach is fundamentally flawed because it leaves families at the mercy of the same energy firms that have been ripping them off. The British public should own our future green energy supply. That’s how we can make sure that our energy is secure and affordable for all.”

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

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