Presentation on theme: "November 2013 Introduction Welcome to the first edition of……….. a quarterly publication produced by the PCS R&C Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC)."— Presentation transcript:
November 2013 Introduction Welcome to the first edition of……….. a quarterly publication produced by the PCS R&C Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC). Through our pages we will seek to keep PCS members in HMRC informed about Green Issues that we believe are important to us all in our working lives. The EAC are a committee elected annually at Group Conference to advise the GEC on issues and policy that affect the environment. But why do PCS believe that Green Issues are so important and why is it a trade union issue? Trade unions have a long history of taking action on environmental issues, campaigning for a safer, healthier working environment. The workplaces in which we organise and seek to organise in, burn energy, consume resources and generate waste. Over half of the UK’s carbon emissions are work related and British business and industry are estimated to waste around £1 Billion of energy each year. Workplaces are better placed than individuals to install cost effective measures It is evident that people are likely to be far greener at home than they are in work; this is seemingly because at home people have far more control over their actions. At home people can make important choices such as switching energy suppliers, recycling, shopping ethically, composting, turning off electrical equipment etc. However at work they have very little control over these things as the working environment is controlled by their employers choices and policies. There is a second reason why Climate Change is a trade union issue and that is because overwhelmingly it is the workers, the poorest in societies around the world who feel the effects of climate change the most; whether that be through famine caused by drought, disease caused by flooding and lack of access to unpolluted water or the devastation that we have seen caused by the increasingly frequent natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, as trade unionists we fight in the traditional spirit of international solidarity to protect the rights and lives of all workers regardless of national boundaries. As you can see we haven’t been able to come up with a suitable name for the Newsletter so we need your help. Please submit suggestions for a ‘Green’ Newsletter title to Sarah Broad by 31/12/2013. (email@example.com). We will then discuss as a committee and come up with a winner. There will be a small prize for the firstname.lastname@example.org November 2013 – 1 st Edition
Green issues are a Trade Union issue In an era of austerity, most union members would be correctly concerned about pay and pensions. Issues around the environment, “green issues” have fallen very low down in members’ concerns; indeed they may even question why the union has any interest in these issues. Green issues however are very much a union issue. Indeed, they form part of the alternative to austerity, and can also affect workers directly. For example, the one million climate jobs campaign http://www.climate-change- jobs.org/about makes a convincing case for investment in green jobs such as producing and fitting solar panels, wind turbines, insulating houses etc. This could create one million jobs, help the environment and lower energy use and as such costs to households.http://www.climate-change- jobs.org/about Most unions have started over the last few years to have green workplace reps. However their roles differ greatly depending on the nature and set up of their work places. It is clear that the level of involvement in green issues varies greatly within different sections of the trade union movement and in many respects across different areas of industry. It seems that overwhelmingly small companies and employers fair better in their environmental record and policies and there seem to be a few reasons for this; Smaller employers tend to be more in control of their estates and service providers, larger companies and public services tend to have contracts with other larger often multi national, companies which means that to some extent they have relinquished control over the factors that effect carbon emissions and responsible purchasing etc, cost also seems to be a factor as small companies tend to shop around for services to find the most economical and often this can be the greenest option. Overall it seemed that large public services such as government departments, hospitals and schools have a long way to go. Ironically despite their own targets on carbon emissions and the environment, it is the government’s relentless cost efficiency savings within the public sector that are holding back the development of environmental policies in these areas of industry as they focus on short term cost saving rather than long term waste reduction and environmentally sustainable policies. For these reasons PCS believe firmly that Green Issues should remain at the forefront of our agenda whilst negotiating with our employer and the EAC are here to ensure that happens. Whether talking about cutting building emissions or creating jobs improving our administration of green taxes, being green in the workplace will ultimately save HMRC money and resources which we believe should be used to lessen the effects of the austerity agenda and not just save jobs but create new ones.
How to get involved -Ensuring your branch has a green rep -Subscribing to the PCS green news letter mailto:email@example.com:firstname.lastname@example.org -Subscribe to green e-group -Make green issues a standing part of your agenda -Get involved with green campaigns in your community Why I got involved in the union…. In October 2009 I saw a small article in my office PCS newsletter asking for someone to be the branch green rep. As I have been interested in environmental issues for some time I thought I would give it a go. This was the start of my foray into union activity. Since this I have become an office rep, branch organiser, branch green rep and most recently a health and safety rep. I am also on the Revenue and Customs Group Environmental Advisory Committee. So my union journey started with my interest in the environment. The green rep work is perhaps seen as a more ‘friendly’ aspect of union work with a smaller amount of challenging meetings. Some of the things I have been involved in include, helping to implement recycling bins in our office, attending a national PCS Green seminar and holding an event to increase awareness of green issues during Climate Change Week. Obviously this is just a snapshot of things I have done and if you’d like more information feel free to contact me (Sarah Broad). Issues such as energy provision are union issues. Nuclear power, for example, is unpopular and the events at Fukushima show how dangerous it can be. Unions though represent workers in the nuclear power industry and need to find solutions to the problems. Redeployment into say producing solar or wind alternatives might be one answer Climate change is also a big issue for unions. In the last few months members have battled through snowdrifts and floods and then sat in overheated offices. Weather patterns are changing and temperatures veering to extremes. Union members will need new agreements on time off for adverse weather, different working patterns to account for extreme temperatures and a maximum temperature limit as a start. Green issues are union issues and need to be brought up the agenda, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.” ― Mahatma GandhiMahatma Gandhi “When the last tree is cut and the last fish killed, the last river poisoned, then you will see that you can't eat money.” ― John May, The Greenpeace StoryJohn MayThe Greenpeace Story