According to a September 13 press release from Trade Unions for Energy Democracy : “The annual congress of the UK Trades Union Congress (TUC) has passed a historic composite resolution on climate change that supports the energy sector being returned to public ownership and democratic control. The resolution—carried unanimously—calls upon the 5.7-million-member national federation to work with the Labour Party to achieve this goal, as well as to: implement a mass program for energy conservation and efficiency; lobby for the establishment of a “just transition” strategy for affected workers; and, investigate the long-term risks to pension funds from investments in fossil fuels.” The “composite resolution”, Resolution 4, along with discussion and videos of the debate are here . The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) submitted the first resolution; the final composite resolution incorporated amendments by the Communication Workers Union, Fire Brigades Union, the train drivers union ASLEF, and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association.
A previous climate change resolution had been defeated at the 2016 annual congress. What was different this time? Speakers in the debate mentioned Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, the chaos of Brexit, and also Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, fresh evidence of the disasters of climate change. Trade Unions for Energy Democracy credits the influence of the Labour Party, and in advance of the vote, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn received an enthusiastic response to his speech to the Congress. The Labour Party Manifesto, For the Many, not the Few , had been released during the 2017 General Election, and highlighted the issue of energy poverty, committing to “take energy back into public ownership to deliver renewable energy, affordability for consumers, and democratic control.” It further called for the creation of “publicly owned, locally accountable energy companies and co-operatives to rival existing private energy suppliers.” Another influential document, “Reclaiming Public Service: How cities and citizens are turning back privatization,” was published in June 2017 by the Transnational Institute, providing global case studies of “re-municipalization” of public services, including energy.
The Trades Union Congress 2017 Congress website provides videos, reports, and an archive of documents from the meetings. This blog post summarizes the General Council statement on workers’ rights and Brexit.