Why take on trade unions ahead of the Paris climate treaty talks?
The TUC backs campaigns for green jobs and supports trade union efforts that green the workplace to good effect through energy saving schemes. Unions support investment in energy productivity because official data shows that the average rate of UK commercial energy efficiency has stagnated for seven years, and our most energy intensive industries urgently need new investment in low carbon technologies.
UK energy productivity has stagnated for 7 years
This is all part of the modern, green union agenda, supporting industry in the transition to a low carbon economy, from which the governments efforts to hobble trade unions will prove to be a huge distraction.
Equally, the TUC welcomes commitments in the Queen’s Speech to tackle climate change, and the government’s pledge to work with other countries on a new global deal at international talks in Paris in December. But declaring open season on trade union rights creates an atmosphere of conflict at a time when collaboration within and between civil society as a whole is clearly required.
The Government is planning a new Energy Bill – not one that will encourage demand reduction measures to save energy at home and at work, which the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) wants, to see us through the energy transition. Instead, the Tories have also committed to end new subsidies for onshore wind. Industry body RenewableUK calculates that subsidies for onshore wind, one of the cheapest forms of low-carbon energy, add just £10 a year to the average consumer bill.
And the Energy Bill also includes measures aimed at increasing energy security and boosting domestic oil and gas production, including giving the Oil and Gas Authority the powers to become a “robust, independent regulator” – and enable it to maximise the economic recovery of oil and gas from UK waters.
Maria McCaffery, chief executive of RenewableUK, said: “Singling out one of the most popular and lowest cost forms of energy technology for different treatment in the planning system sends a worrying message to investors across the energy sector.”
Responding to the Queen’s Speech today (Wednesday), TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said that, “Working people will be worried by a Queen’s Speech that declares open season on so many of their rights and protections.” In the real world, unions have worked well and to good effect to boost resource productivity in cooperation with employers such as Allianz Insurance, EDF Energy, Defra in York, Grreat Ormond Street Hospital, the Port of Felixstowe, and in the Furzedown Low Carbon Zone in south London.