Many trade unions across the globe have taken up the mantra “go green at work, ” mindful that in many countries, over half of carbon emissions are work-related in some way.
In the UK, the Trade Union Congress’ (TUC) Greenworkplaces Projects show how unions are working with their members and management on a wide range of imaginative initiatives on saving energy and resources at work, including waste reduction, recycling and green travel plans.
Over 1,200 trade union environmental representatives (“green reps”) took part in a survey, Green Unions at Work (2012) carried out for the TUC by the Labour Research Department. It was immensely encouraging to find that unions are raising their game, with many examples of union proposals being taken up by management, from installing solar panels to workplace “switch it off” campaigns.
In The Union Effect (2013), the TUC examined the experiences of six organizations which have made a serious effort to lessen the impact of their operations on the environment, and in particular, to reduce their carbon footprint. We looked at measurable progress and the role of trade unions in private, public and community organizations. In one of these organizations, Allianz Insurance,bCO2 emissions per employee had fallen by more than half since 2006, and in all projects, various forms of joint union-management environmental forums had been set up.
A number of trade unions across the UK have also set up their own green reps networks or provided advice, support and guidance on greenworkplace activities. The TUC is also a partner to the European Trade Union Confederation’s green workplaces project. The ETUC’s report, Greenworkplaces: A guide for union representatives, includes practical advice on workplace sustainability audits from across the EU.
The ITUC has supported the development of a global greenworkplaces movement in workshops and seminars at the ITUC’s World of Work pavilion, which it has staged at various COPs over the past several years.
Organization: The Trade Union Congress, United Kingdom
More: The TUC reports, The Union Effect and Green unions at Work 2012, and the ETUC report, Green Workplaces: A guide for union representatives, are available at https://www.tuc.org.uk