#GreenUNISON Week is 15 to 22 Sept – for branch activities on the climate emergency

*incl new latest Sept update*

See new Green UNISON Week post on 10 things you can do.

Members on why Green UNISON Week is so important. Full interviews here:

“For me, the threat of possible extinction is alarming, and it’s that fear that motivates. Fear, and the sheer injustice that it will be our members who will bear the brunt of the worst effects of climate change.

“We had a taster of this during COVID – failure to prepare adequately for an epidemic meant it was in the poor and disadvantaged where the death toll was the highest.”

Not long to go – and here’s information on the big march to #EndFossilFuels global action demonstration in Edinburgh on Saturday 16 September.

Assembling at The Mound in Edinburgh at 11:00 AM.

“This September, millions of people around the world will take to the streets to demand a rapid, just, and equitable end to fossil fuels as world leaders gather at the United Nations’ Climate Ambition Summit in New York.

“In Scotland, the Edinburgh Climate Coalition and Friends of the Earth Scotland have initiated a mobilisation and series of outreach events in solidarity with the global campaign, gaining support from wider environmental groups, such as Fridays for Future, XR Edinburgh, ScotE3, Greenpeace (Edinburgh), Youth in Resistance and RS2.”

See this Green UNISON Week post on the UNISON UK website. Including ideas for branch actions and info on webinars for members, on conversations about climate change, with Larger Us, on Thurs 21 Sept, and on sustainable healthcare on Mon 25 Sept. Also,  a new poster and leaflet for recruiting a branch Green/Environment rep if you don’t yet have one. Further info to follow soon, including for autumn campaigning events on divesting pensions from fossil fuels.

UNISON General Secretary Christina McAnea has invited branches to organise activities to support Green UNISON Week in September.

The week will run UK-wide from Friday 15 to Friday 22 September inclusive.

There will be local action and national webinars/activities to support what branches organise. Check here for regular updates and further resources in the coming weeks. Some resources are listed near the bottom of this page.

As in previous Green UNISON Weeks, branches may like to link up in solidarity with young climate strikers, whether locally or to support a Scottish march if one is organised for the Global Climate Strike day on Friday 15 September.

Fridays for Future, the organisation inspired by climate activist Greta Thunberg’s school strikes, has called for worldwide support and demonstrations etc., on 15 September. See also the Fight Fossil Fuels global mobilisation event on 15 and 17 September. Their campaign started in New York and is now world-wide, demanding a just transition to be Fast Fair and Forever (another FFF!).

UNISON Scotland”s Green Network members, including Environment Officers/green reps, will be working with their branches on local Green UNISON Week ideas and plans.

UNISON is holding two webinars for members on conversations about climate change, with Larger Us, on Thurs 21 Sept, and on sustainable healthcare on Mon 25 Sept.  Further details of both, and more on Green UNISON Week ideas, are on the UK UNISON website here.

At a time when Scotland is the focus of debates on opposition to new oil and gas licences in the North Sea, as the Scottish Government has just missed yet another climate target and as heatwaves, wildfires, flooding and other extreme weather events impact communities in the UK and around the world, it is even more essential to speak up for climate justice policies to protect people and planet.

Christina said that branch workplace activity calling for urgent action on climate change has “never been more important.”

She added: “The climate crisis could not be more pressing and is being felt across the globe.

“Green UNISON Week is our chance to focus on and highlight these issues – it is just one part of giving vital space to demand politicians take seriously the damage being done to our planet and to act to save its future.

“Public services are key to the governments pledges in this area so engaging with members and employers is vital and UNISON must play it’s part in supporting our members in negotiating and challenging on this issue.

“We’re encouraging branches to run a week of activities for members and most importantly to engage with employers on how they can reduce their own carbon footprints and ensure their employers have a plan to green their workplaces completely.”

If branches have not already elected a green/environment rep, you are encouraged to do so. Since 2022 this is now a formal branch position and all branches should seek to fill the role.

Ideas for branch activity include holding a film screening or discussion or hosting a speaker or running workplace stalls with activities to engage members in discussions.  Ask people to make pledges, or run a quiz or challenge. Have a lunchtime rally and invite speakers from the Green Network  and relevant organisations, such as a youth climate striker or pensions divestment campaigner.

Further ideas for branch activity will be circulated later in July. Meanwhile see below for some resources to assist with planning, including webinars you could screen all or part of to spark discussions.

You can watch the most recent Green UNISON webinar from March 23 here. It was chaired by UNISON Scotland Depute Convener Stephen Smellie, with presentations about this report on how strongly UNISON members feel about the need for climate action. Sampson Low, UNISON Head of Policy, said that “the challenge from the survey is how the union can help members with interest and enthusiasm build collective strength for environmental change in the workplace and wider public services.”

Members can sign up to UNISON UK’s Green Network here. That page also has a range of resources including a short guide on the role of the Environment Officer/green rep, and UNISON’s report on Getting to Net Zero in Public Services.

Other resources for potential use could include the excellent Scottish Climate Hazards and Resilience in the Workplace handbook and workbook. Climate change is a health and safety issue for the planet. A video of the recent training on this, chaired by STUC Deputy General Secretary Dave Moxham, is online with all the materials here: https://www.adaptationscotland.org.uk/how-adapt/tools-and-resources/climate-risks-workplace-protecting-workers-changing-climate

Branches can also find useful information about what their employers are doing in the most recent public bodies climate change annual reports for 2021/22, here: https://sustainablescotlandnetwork.org/reports

Other organisations that branches might like to follow for climate action information include the Climate Justice Coalition, which has continued the work of the COP26 Coalition.

UNISON Scotland is also part of the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition and the Just Transition Partnership.

You can sign up to UNISON Scotland’s Green Network via this page and follow the Network’s Facebook page. All interested members in Scotland can attend Green Network meetings. The next will be in August, with Green UNISON Week high on the agenda, along with climate change and Just Transition issues in bargaining, and climate justice and Just Transition at COP28 later this year.

Let us know what you’re planning at your branch and we’ll add the information here if you like. The Green Network will also be discussing the potential for some joint work with UNISON Scotland’s Black Members Committee and the International Committee. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, this post is being made on Public Service Day, 23 June 2023. Marking the date, our colleagues in Public Services International said today as world leaders met in Paris to discuss climate finance that there is a “simple oft-repeated myth: we cannot afford to publicly fund the transition away from fossil fuels. Of course, the reality is we cannot afford not to.”

Read the full policy comment here, where PSI also said: “…it’s time for the wider economic community to finally abandon the fantasy that the profit motive or market forces will solve these problems and admit that a new, fairer global tax system is essential to funding the changes we need.

“This Public Service Day, we must make clear that privatisation, PPPs and more outsourcing are the last thing our planet can rely on to make it through the climate crisis. Well-funded quality public services are the key to unlocking our green new world. We know there is more than enough wealth to properly fund these services to drive the transition. It’s time for our politicians to abandon discredited private-sector proposals and instead focus on proven public solutions. We need to make sure that they defend people and planet before profits.”