Entrance to UNCCC in Lima. Photo: Government of the Province of British Columbia
Lima Diary 3: The right to union recognition at #COP20
What trade unions are basically looking for here at #COP20 in Lima is union recognition, and with that, the right to represent our members. In a sense this is no more complicated than any struggle be it among contract cleaners, cinema workers, or in the civil service for the basic right to representation – for a place at the table.
So much is at stake in the world of work as we shift to a low carbon economy, with opportunities and threats ahead. Such transformations as lie ahead cannot be left to governments and employers alone.
Today in Lima we’ve spoken to a number of EU delegations about the need for the EU to take the lead in demonstrating a pro-union, pro-work employment stance.
The latest trade union proposal to include the concept of “Just Transition” in the draft Paris treaty comes from the ETUC on behalf of 85 national TU confederations from 36 countries and 10 EU-wide sectoral federations. In Cancun, government Parties to the UNFCCC acknowledged the importance of “Just transition” and agreed to insert it in the decisions adopted . A clear reference to Just transition was included in the decisions taken in Durban too. This essential concept is currently neither in the “Draft COP Decision proposed by the ADP Co-chairs”, nor in the “Non-paper on elements for a negotiating text” which should provide the basis for the agreement which hopefully will be concluded next year in Paris.
The ETUC submission says it “would like to express its deepest concern about the lack of reference to employment-related issues in the draft texts currently under discussion in Lima.” We propose solutions that could answer our concerns. So in the Draft COP Decision proposed by the Co-chairs there’s an important opportunity to provide for a role for trade unions as government develop their own national low carbon plans in 2015. The plans are called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).
These INDCs, if all goes to plan, will include many of the essentials of a low carbon strategy – the range of emission reductions by sector, a clear time frame, targeted reductions against an agreed baseline year, a long term trajectory, macroeconomic estimates of the marginal cost of achieving the targets, and any other information “to facilitate the clarity, transparency and understanding” of the strategy.
We are looking for an additional factor to be taken into account in national contributions: “Efforts to ensure a Just Transition which will create decent work and good quality jobs.” In the UK you could imagine a role for the current Green Economy Council – the joint government, industry and trade union body that advises government on its green economy ambitions, to play a role in setting out the UK’s contribution – our INDC.
And unions here also spell out what we mean by Just Transition with a further bid to include text that says:
“”Parties recognize the need to accompany their climate policies and actions with the promotion of decent work opportunities arising from a low-emission society as well as with a strategy aimed at ensuring a Just Transition for workers, providing social protection, strengthening social dialogue, securing workers’ rights, growing new sectors and promoting prosperity and sustainable development.”
In the UK, the Green Economy Council, a joint government, employers and unions body, might be a suitable joint forum to oversee the UK’s “INDC” Here in the ITUC group, RENGO, the Japanese trade union confederation spoke about its role in the coming year in working with its government to develop an INDC strategy.
For now though, we’re following the plenaries as closely as we can, to see if these calls are getting through.