What a difference a year makes!
The #FridaysforFuture youth movement began in August 2018 when the Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, began her solitary climate strike . Since then, millions of students (and their adult supporters) have been inspired to copy her action in almost every country in the world, including Canada. In May 2019, Thunberg and other young climate activists sent out a call for a global climate strikes in the week of September 20 – 27, timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Summit in New York on September 23.
The youth movement has explicitly called for the support of adults and workers in the global climate strike. One of the first unions to offer support was Ver.di in Germany, as reported in “Youth and Workers Uniting Behind This Crisis’: German Labor Union Urges 2 Million Members to Join Global Climate Strike” in Common Dreams (Aug. 6). The Labor Network for Sustainability (LNS) , in cooperation with 350.org, has issued an appeal on the LNS website, asking unions to participate and providing A Climate Strike Toolkit for Workers: How to Support the Young People Who Are Striking to Save Our Planet . The Global Climate Strike website also offers their own Guide to organizing a workplace climate strike. The University and Colleges Union in the U.K. is submitting a resolution at the Trades Union Congress conference in early September, asking all members to support the Sept. 20 action with a 30-minute strike.
From the state of Victoria Australia, the Victoria Trades Hall Executive Committee posted on Facebook with their August 9 resolution which endorses the September 20 global climate strike and “commits to organize our members to participate as much as possible.”
Updates, as of August 30:
Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED), in its Bulletin #88, has compiled statements and actions from unions around the world in support of the calls for a “Global Climate Strike”, with ongoing updates here . For Canada, the TUED list includes the B.C. Teachers Federation , who will be using their September 23 Professional Development Day to hold a “Rally & Teach-in for Climate Justice” in Victoria; and the Toronto and District Labour Council is included for its endorsement of the global strike at the General Delegates Meeting on August 1, 2019.
The Toronto Labour Council has posted a statement on the Climate Emergency on their website, calling on Labour Councils across Canada to be involved in local and national efforts on climate action, including on September 27th. The statement carries on with the initiatives outlined in their 2016 action plan, Greenprint for Greater Toronto: Working Together for Climate Action . Not included in the TUED list, but also from Canada: the Confederation Syndicats Nationaux in Quebec are planning to coordinate union support across the province, according to their Convention document from June 2019, La Planete s’invite au travail (in French only).
Management attitudes to Climate Strikes: “Workers’ strike will reveal if firms really care about climate change” in The Irish Times (July 8) reports on the results of a journalist’s informal emailed survey to 20 global companies, asking about their company policies concerning climate protests . Either vague responses or no response was received from Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Bloomberg, IKEA, BP, Exxon Mobil, BlackRock, and Virgin Group . Of the few who responded: Patagonia is quoted as saying that it “actively encourages its employees to take part in environmental protests and has a global policy of providing bail for workers arrested during such actions. In September it plans to expand digital efforts to connect customers with local green groups.” Germany’s GLS ethical bank said “it will close on September 20 so all employees can march ‘against the climate catastrophe'”. And Shell stated that “it backed peaceful protest and its employees could seek leave to join such action.”
For updated news, check the Global Climate Strike website , and for Canada, the #Fridays for Future Canada or #Climate Strike Canada Twitter feeds. And even the mainstream media will be awake to the global climate movement. The “Covering Climate Now” initiative, led by the Columbia Journalism Review and The Guardian, has gathered commitments from print and online newspapers and magazines, as well as television, to run one week of focused climate coverage, to begin September 16 and culminate September 23. Canadian participants include Maclean’s magazine and The Tyee.