Jim Kelly, Unite London & Eastern regional Chair speaks to the trade union bloc at the start of the march
The reasons for climate breakdown are many, but one of the main economic causes are the right-wing policies of globalisation, privatisation and deregulation which have led to an economy where the race to the bottom has been the only driver, sacrificing environmental standards in the process
And in one of the worse case’s such as Colombia, workers and trade unionists have been murdered for standing up defending environmental rights and fair distribution of land.
Unite has over 300,000 members involved in manufacturing alone. We have developed policies based around green manufacturing and a genuine just transition. And just transition must mean what it says on the tin; Unite will fight bad employers attempting to greenwash plant closures and attacks on members terms and conditions.
We need to ensure that our manufacturing base is expanded to develop and manufacture the skills and products needed to combat climate breakdown; and not just solar panels and wind farms- the UK has the oldest housing stock in Europe, we need a government financed policy of retrofitting our homes- one of the simplest and easiest way of cutting CO2 and cutting energy use.
Hundreds of thousands of homes could be better insulated using the skills of the UK’s construction work force, instead of building private unaffordable flats or offices which stay empty for years and only function as safety deposit boxes for international tax dodgers
We need state led investment in green manufacturing; Positive & ethical public procurement; we need new ethical corporate governance structures backed up by the collective bargaining power of trade unions and new models of public and shared ownership focused on green manufacturing and energy production. And an end to offshoring jobs- supply chains need to be based in the UK.
Labour’s 2017 New Green Deal and Unite’s Manufacturing Matters policies are an important contribution to our Green industrial and political debate.
One thing is for sure- we cannot trust this sleaze-ridden government, it is financed by billionaire tax dodgers and oligarchs, and it represents their interests- we need an ambitious interventionist progressive but, above all a socialist government if we are going to reach the targets needed to put the planet before profit
Jim Kelly Chair London & Eastern Region Unite the Union