Building for the Big One

Trade unionists, writes Terry Conway, are circulating a motion to support the upcoming Extinction Rebellion protests in London from April 21-24, calling for immediate action on the climate emergency and highlighting the interconnectivity of social, economic and environmental crises. The motion aims to encourage attendance at the protests, support XR Trade Unionists, and encourage trade union bodies to take action on the issue.

 

In preparation for the mobilisations planned for London from April 21-24 and backed by more than 70 organisations, XR trade unionists are circulating the following motion;

This branch/trades council notes:

⁃ the announcement by Extinction Rebellion UK of a protest in London on Friday 21 April.

⁃ the growing resistance to the cost of living rises across the UK with campaign groups and trade unions joining ranks to say Enough is Enough.

⁃ the intransigence of the UK government in the face of increased urgency regarding the climate emergency.

⁃ the recent words of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterrez about the need for immediate action to prevent a climate catastrophe.

This branch/Trades council believes:

⁃ that the climate crisis and the social and economic crises are interconnected

⁃ that the UK government is unwilling to take appropriate and proportionate action to begin to deal with these crises.

⁃ that peaceful protest, strikes and other forms of nonviolent direct action is the best way for people to highlight both the gravity of the situation and the failures of our government.

This branch/trades council resolves:

⁃ to publicise and encourage people to attend the 21 April Extinction Rebellion “Surround Parliament” protest in London.

⁃ to support Extinction Rebellion Trade Unionists by making a donation to their funds

⁃ to contribute towards the costs of coach or other transport organised by local Extinction Rebellion groups to London on 21 April.

⁃ to take this resolution to all trades councils, regional committees, environmental committees and other relevant trade union bodies to which this branch/trades council is affiliated.

Within Unite, where a network has been set up to bring together those of us wishing to see a strengthening of the union’s policy and action around the environment, an adapted version is being circulated.

This Unite branch notes:

This Unite branch believes:

  • that the climate crisis and the social and economic crises are interconnected.
  •  that the UK government is unwilling to take appropriate and proportionate action to begin to deal with these crises.
  • that collaborative actions, movement building, peaceful protest, strikes and other forms of nonviolent direct action is the best way for people to highlight both the gravity of the situation and the failures of our government. 

This branch resolves:

To make members aware of the Unite Grassroot Climate Justice Caucus and provide information on how to take part

  • to publicise and encourage people to attend the April Extinction Rebellion  “Big One” protest in London 
  • to support Extinction Rebellion Trade Unionists by making a donation to their funds.
  • to contribute towards the costs of coach or other transport organised by local Extinction Rebellion groups and/or Trades Councils to London for the April mobilisation.
  • to take this resolution to all trades councils, regional committees, environmental committees and other relevant trade union bodies to which this branch is affiliated.

My branch, Hackney and Islington Unite Community passed the motion at our monthly meeting on 4 April. With only a few week to go we hope others will follow suit – and quickly. It’s certainly noticeable that only one national union – PCS – currently appears as a supporting organisation. There are a number of union branches also visibly backing the mobilisation plus two networks – the one in unite mentioned earlier, plus the NEU climate network (which appears to be an official part of the union’s structures). And of course there is XR trade unionists themselves.

Never the less this is considerably less official involvement than we saw from trade unions in the run up to COP 27 in Glasgow in December 2021. It’s difficult to assess how much this is due to XR itself as the central organisation calling the action not devoting resources to reaching out to unions, to sectarianism from trade unions towards XR or the latter feeling that with the cost of living crisis and in many cases strikes, the environmental crisis has become less of a priority. Whatever the balance between these strands, we should do what we can to turn it round as rapidly as possible. There are no jobs on a dead planet.


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