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TSSA calls for public transport fares to be slashed; let’s all do the same!

By Paul Atkin - Greener Jobs Alliance, August 4, 2022

TSSA calls for public transport fares to be slashed – let’s all do the same!

In a sharply worded blog on the TSSA web site, General Secretary Manuel Cortes notes that we have to deal with

two crises running in parallel – the climate … heating up at an unprecedented rate leading to increased extreme weather disasters and …an ever-deepening Tory cost of living crisis, inflation and costs are up, but wages are stagnant

and calls for a sharp cut in public transport fares to reduce costs, fossil fuel use and pollution. 

Wars, Inflation, and Strikes: A Summer of Discontent in Europe?

By Josefina L. Martínez - Left Voice, July 12, 2022

Strikes over wage increases or working conditions are occurring in response to high inflation, aggravated by the aftermath of the war in Ukraine. These labor actions show a change in the mood of the European working class.

Are we heading toward a summer of discontent in Europe? Can we foresee a hot autumn on the Continent? It would be hasty to make such statements, but new strike activity is beginning to unfold among sectors of several countries’ working class. Inflation reached 8.8 percent as a European average in May (with higher rates in countries like the UK and Spain). After years of inflation below 1.5 percent, this is a significant change that is causing a fall in the population’s purchasing power, especially among the working class. Many analysts are already talking about the possibility of stagflation: a combination of recession and inflation.

This is in addition to the political instability of several governments and a widespread dissatisfaction with the traditional parties. The latter was expressed in France in the last elections, with high abstention and the growth of Marine Le Pen’s far-right party and of the center-left coalition grouped around Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Emmanuel Macron lost his absolute majority in the National Assembly and now faces a five-year period of great political uncertainty. Another government in crisis is that of the UK, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson is stepping down.

In this context, recent weeks have seen strikes taking place in key sectors, including transport, steel, ports, and public services, as well as in more precarious sectors. Although there are differences among these countries, the strikes are opening a breach in the climate of “national unity” that governments tried to impose a few months ago, when the war in Ukraine began. In this article we review some of these labor conflicts in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and other countries.

Spain: Peasant women find it more difficult to access agricultural aid

By staff - La Via Campesina, March 8, 2021

On the occasion of International Women’s Day (8M), the Women’s Department of COAG and the Confederation of Rural Women (CERES) denounce the fact that peasant women-owned farms have more difficult access to agricultural aid.

According to data published by the Spanish Agricultural Guarantee Fund (FEGA), the number of women’s farms receiving CAP aid is far from being on a par with men’s. Only 27.5% of women’s farms receive CAP aid. Only 27.5% of direct aid is received by women and 26.34% of Rural Development aid. For all these reasons, COAG and CERES believe that it is essential to carry out an analysis of the gender perspective in these two programmes to promote agricultural activity.

COAG and CERES consider that the objective of advancing equality between women and men in the Common Agricultural Policy and in the Rural Development Programme is to apply a new gender strategy to the reality of the countryside, not only to achieve real equality but also to stop the depopulation of rural areas.

Currently, both the CAP and the RDP support have been designed from a male point of view, in which a model that suits the majority of farms whose owner is a man is established as the “standard” farm receiving support. In other words, it does not take into account the gender perspective, which should take into account the fact that the majority of farms owned by women have a different model to those owned by men. They are smaller farms and, in many cases, have alternative crops and livestock production that are not eligible for aid. This does not mean that they are not viable or productive, in fact “they have been there all their lives”.

Is Labor Green? A Cross-National Panel Analysis of Unionization and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

By Camila Huerta Alvarez, Julius McGee, and Richard York - Nature and Culture, March 1, 2019

In this article, we assess whether unionization of national workforces influences growth in national carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per capita. Political-economic theories in environmental sociology propose that labor unions have the potential to affect environmental conditions. Yet, few studies have quantitatively assessed the influence of unionization on environmental outcomes using cross-national data. We estimate multilevel regression models using data on OECD member nations from 1970 to 2014. Results from our analysis indicate that unionization, measured as the percentage of workers who are union members, is negatively associated with CO2 emissions per capita, even when controlling for labor conditions. This finding suggests that unionization may promote environmental protection at the national level

Read the text (PDF).

Just Transition: Time for a Rethink?

By Rosa Martínez Rodríguez - Green European Journal, February 10, 2021

Since 2019, Spain has been ahead of the curve with the launch of a Just Transition Strategy to protect its historic coal mining regions from the impacts of decarbonisation. Rosa Martínez examines the uptake of just transition in public policy and where Spain’s affected regions find themselves today. Progress is encouraging, but accelerating processes of digitalisation and automation mean that it is time to bring the notion of just transition up to speed so it can offer future-proof solutions in a world where employment is increasingly precarious.

In 2015, before the Paris Agreement had been ratified, the International Labour Organization published its Guidelines for a Just Transition Towards Environmentally Sustainable Economies and Societies for All. The concept of just transition, however, was already well established among Green parties and environmental activists. It offered a response to critiques of the ecological transition based on its impact on employment, and also reinforced social justice as a core green value.

From political concept to public policy

In Spain, just transition worked its way into public policy months before the EU decision to end financial aid for the coal mining industry took effect, forcing the closure of mines unable to operate without support. The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), which came to power in 2018 after a vote of no confidence ousted the conservative People’s Party (PP), found themselves in a politically delicate situation, given that the most affected areas were made up of socialist voters. The response from the Ministry of Ecological Transition was to create a Just Transition Urgent Action Plan (2019-2021) for the regions impacted by the closure of the mines and five thermal power plants.

Months later, in February 2019, the Just Transition Strategy featured as one of the pillars of the government’s Strategic Energy and Climate Framework. The introduction of a social angle in climate policy and the energy transition was a first for politics and would later be adopted by the European Commission in the European Green Deal with its Just Transition Mechanism launched in January 2020.

Where are we now? So far, processes have only been implemented in areas affected by the closure of coal mines and thermal power plants through agreements with local administrations – 13 signed to date – with the aim of protecting jobs. In November 2020, a brief progress report was published, detailing the actions carried out to date and giving a sense of the complexity of the challenge undertaken.

Global Just Transition case studies from a trade union viewpoint

By Elizabeth Perry - Work and Climate Change Report, January 14, 2021

Just Transition: Putting planet, people and jobs first” is the theme of a special issue of Equal Times, published in December 2020. The compilation of articles provides a trade union point of view to describe the just transition experiences in Bangladesh, Tunisia, Argentina, and Senegal, as well as the more frequently cited experiences in Spain and Scotland. The complete Special Issue is here , and was supported financially by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

Although Spain’s 2018 agreement regarding coal transition is well known, this article is a welcome English-language text, translated from the original Spanish version written by Spanish journalist María José Carmona. Another useful English text on the topic is The Just Transition Strategy within the Strategic Energy and Climate Framework, translated and published by the Spanish government in 2019. And an earlier report from the Central Confederation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) provides brief summaries of Spanish and other Just Transition frameworks, in A Fair Climate Policy for Workers: Implementing a just transition in various European countries and Canada (2019). It covers Germany, Spain, France, The Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, and Canada in a brief 32 pages.

The Just Transition Strategy: Strategic Energy and Climate Framework

By Staff - Instituto para la Transición Justa,, January 2021

In February 2019, the Spanish Government approved the Strategic Framework for Energy and Climate, through which measures will be implemented to facilitate the change towards an economic, sustainable and competitive model that will help to curb climate change. This Strategic Framework is structured on three pillars: the draft bill on Climate Change, the draft of the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC), and the Just Transition Strategy (ETJ).

These three elements will enable Spain to have a solid and stable strategic framework for the decarbonisation of its economy: the draft bill offers an efficient roadmap for the coming decades; the PNIEC lays the foundations for decarbonisation during the 2021-2030 period, in accordance with the goal of achieving net zero emissions in 2050; and the Just Transition Strategy is a solidarity-based support strategy to ensure that people and territories make the most of the opportunities of this ecological transition without leaving anyone behind.

Two of the elements of the framework significantly increase Spain's climate ambition.

On the one hand, the draft bill on Climate Change and Energy Transition (LCCTE) proposes that the electricity system be 100% renewable and neutral in terms of greenhouse gas emissions for the whole economy by 2050.

On the other hand, the draft of the PNIEC that has been sent to Brussels proposes a reduction of 23% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in comparison to 1990. Proportionally, this is a mitigation effort that is much higher than the current EU target of 40%, and is in line with the 50-55% range that the EU is heading towards. In addition, the draft PNIEC envisages reaching 42% of renewable energy consumption out of the total energy consumption by 2030, which means doubling the figure expected to be reached this year, 2020. In the case of electricity generation, the percentage of renewables would be 74%. The country's energy efficiency would improve by 39.5% during the 2021-2030 decade.

The opportunities that will be generated by this ambitious increase of goals are numerous:

  • Mobilization of 241 billion Euros over the next decade from private, public and mixed investment.
  • Savings of approximately 67 billion Euros by 2030 due to the reduction of fossil fuel imports, which will also improve energy security.
  • Growth of between 16.5 and 25.7 billion Euros in annual GDP between 2021 and 2030, which will be an additional 1.8% of GDP growth in 2030 compared to a scenario without a plan.
  • Positive effect on employment, since between 253,000 and 348,000 jobs will be generated in the next decade, mainly in manufacturing and construction.
  • Economic revitalization of depopulated areas, as a result of the creation of green jobs in these territories, thus contributing to meet the demographic challenge. Reduction of about 27% in the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution.

The third element of the Framework seeks to maximize the social gains of the ecological transformation and to mitigate the negative impacts of this ecological transition. It is detailed in this Just Transition Strategy.

Read the text (PDF).

Employment Aspects of the Transition from Fossil Fuels in Australia

By Jim Stanford - Centre for Future Work, December 16, 2020

Climate change poses a fundamental threat to the well-being and security of people everywhere. And Australia is on the front lines of the challenge. We have already experienced some of the fastest and most intense consequences of climate change, in many forms: extreme heat, droughts, floods, extreme weather and catastrophic bushfires (as in 2019-20). Climate change is no longer an abstract or hypothetical worry. It is a clear and present danger, and we are already paying for it: with more frequent disasters, soaring insurance premiums, and measurable health costs.

The problem of climate change is global; emissions and pollution do not respect national borders. But to address the global threat, every country must play its part. And Australia has a special responsibility to act, and quickly, for several reasons:

  • We are suffering huge costs because of climate change.
    We are a rich country, that can afford to invest in stabilising the climate.
  • We are one of the worst greenhouse gas (GHG) polluters in the world.
  • In fact, as shown in Figure 1, Australia has the highest GHG emissions per capita of any of the 36 industrial countries in the

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Our emissions – around 22 tonnes of CO2 equivalent for every Australian – are almost twice as high as the OECD average. We emit 4 times per person more than the average Swede.

Worse yet, Australia has been very slow in addressing climate change with effective and consistent policies. Climate policy has become a political wedge issue, subject to reversals and changes in direction depending on the fleeting political imperatives of the day. After a temporary decline (largely sparked by a short-lived national carbon tax, which was then abolished in 2014), Australia’s total emissions have increased again in recent years (see Figure 2). Under existing policies, emissions are projected to stay at or above current levels over the coming decade.

Read the text (PDF).

Workers and Just Transition: A Global View

By various - Labor Network for Sustainability, December 5, 2021

With the election of a President who acknowledges the threats of climate change and of ongoing economic devastation for working people, we have an opportunity to seriously address how to make a transition to a climate-safe, socially-just, worker-friendly society. The primary objective of the Just Transition Listening Project (JTLP) is to ensure workers and community voices are central to the conversation of a Green New Deal and other climate policies. 

On Saturday, Dec. 5 at 12 p.m. Eastern, the Labor Network for Sustainability and the JTLP Organizing Committee will bring together labor and policy leaders to share perspectives, stories, and strategies from the frontlines of the struggle for a just transition globally. This will be the sixth webinar in the JTLP series. In addition to the webinar series we conducted interviews with more than 100 community leaders and workers to learn of their experiences and perspectives on Just Transition. Our report from these interviews will be available in January.

From the experiences of metalworkers in South Africa to the coal miners in Spain, to workers across sectors in Latin America and across the world, the struggle for a just transition is truly global. In order to effectively address the worldwide transitions we are facing in our jobs, environments, and homes, we must demand a worldwide response. Join us on Saturday, Dec. 5 as we learn from each other and set the stage for finalizing and distributing our report to help us win the struggle to protect jobs, communities and the right to thrive as we work toward a society that is ecologically sustainable and just. 

Labour and Environmental Sustainability

By Juan Escribano Gutiérrez, in collaboration with Paolo Tomassetti - Adapt, December 2020

There is consensus that the separation between labour and the environment, as well as that between the legal disciplines that regulate both domains, is meaningless and outdated. Since business activities affect the health and the environment of workers and human beings, synergies between the two spheres have to be created. Yet there is still a long way to go in order to bring together labour and environmental regulation.

In all the selected countries (France, the Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain) the legal systems regulating salaried work, on the one hand, and the environment, on the other hand, remain disconnected, although no formal obstacles exist to their integration. With regard to the scope for collective bargaining to become a means to integrate both spheres, no legal restrictions apply in any of the framework considered, although explicit references to workers and employers (or their representatives) to bargain over environmental aspects are far less evident.

It is up to the social partners to promote environmental sustainability as a goal for collective bargaining or to continue with the traditional inertia that divides labour and environmental regulation. Despite research shows how the social partners, especially trade unions, are more and more willing to negotiate environmental aspects, the narrative on the trade-off between labour and the environment is still evident, especially in the Hungarian context. Collective agreements could take a leading role in driving the just transition towards a low-carbon economy, but in practice they do not regard this mission as a priority. Environmental clauses in collective agreements are still exceptional and lack momentum.

One explanation is that the legal mechanisms in place to limit the impact of business activity on the environment (i.e. environmental law) legitimize firms to consider environmental aspects as their own prerogative. For this reason, in some legal systems, employers tend to discuss environmental commitments outside collective bargaining, including them into corporate social responsibility (CSR) mechanisms. By doing so, the company avoids enforceability, limiting the effectiveness of the tools to regulate environmental issues.

Read the text (Link).

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