News and events

GLU Call for Applications – GLU South Africa Honours and MA Programme 2024

The Global Labour University (GLU) is an exciting and innovative postgraduate programme designed to equip and engage trade unionists more effectively to tackle the challenges of globalization. It offers unionists and labour activists formal post-graduate Honours and Masters degree qualifications through the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. It is a fulltime coursework and research study programme located in the School of Social Sciences.

Applications for the 2024 programmes are now open and must be completed ONLINE.

Click here for more information.

News and events

TUED Bulletin 128 – Brazilian Unions Call for Renationalization of Energy, Reversing Bolsonaro Privatizations

As the Lula administration closes its second month in office, review key trade union demands, summarise key energy takeaways from the 2023-2026 Lula governing plan, and interview a leader of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Platform on Water and Energy (POCAE), a coalition of leading trade unions and social movements in Brazil. Next week, we’ll keep our eye on Brazil and share our abridged interview with CUT Brasil on their analysis of Lula’s energy policies and their priority campaigns for 2023.

To celebrate our longstanding partnership with the CUNY School for Labor and Urban Studies, we’ve highlighted a selection of resources from past collaborations. On March 7, join us at the CUNY SLU public programming event “Learning from Global South Unions: Student Voices on Climate Action and a Just Energy Transition”.  Register here.

The 2023-2026 Governing Plan of Lula 

While policies are still taking shape in Lula’s new administration, we can ground our analysis on the 2023-2026 governing plan, published in mid-2022 during the electoral campaign by Lula and his centre-right running mate, Alckmin. Of the document’s 120 points, four points (75-78)  specifically reflect energy policy commitments: support for energy sovereignty, opposition to ongoing privatization measures for Petrobras and Electrobras, and increasing the energy mix with renewables. 

Trade Unions Demands

Electrobras underwent privatisation in 2022 under Bolsonaro, with the federal government’s shares falling from 72 per cent to 43 per cent, and a measure limiting its voting power to 10%. Eletrobras is responsible for 30 per cent of all generation and 45 per cent of transmission in Brazil. Íkaro Chaves, Director of the National Collective of Electricians (CNE), urges, “It is not a popsicle factory; it is a company that provides essential public services to society, and its public control is regulated in the constitution,” adding that Lula “made it clear that the goal is to undo this banditry against the [public ownership] and eventually if conditions are favourable (…)  to re-nationalise”. Reclaiming majority public ownership would require recovering 7% of the shares. CNE has argued for the re-nationalization of Electrobras and recently laid out their demands in an open letter to the Minister of Mines and Energy (MME), Alexandre Silveira. 

This week, members of the CNE also met with the President of the Workers Party, Gleisi Hoffman, to discuss the renationalisation of Eletrobras. In their meeting in Brasilia, the electrical workers emphasized that “defending renationalisation of Electrobras is defending Brazil”.

Petrobras has become a “dividend-paying machine,” according to Oil Workers Federation (FUP). Private shareholders currently hold nearly 65% of Petrobras’ capital, and the company is considered the world’s second-largestdividend payer. Last year, Petrobras produced a record net profit of R$ 188.3 billion in 2022 at the high cost of privatizations and a dramatic reduction of investments in the country. Nearly all profits (R$ 180 billion) went directly to investors. The amount invested in Brazil, about R$ 52 billion or US$10 billion, is 80% below the level of annual investments observed between 2010 and 2013 under PT administrations.

Deyvid Bacelar, Coordinator of FUP, has spoken about the investment crisis and the public pathway alternative, stating, “Petrobrás in recent years has become a dividend-paying machine, transferring to shareholders all the profit obtained from privatizations and abusive fuel prices. We urgently need changes in the pricing policy and to reclaim the state-owned company so that it once again invests in Brazil with long-term policies.”

In a recent interview, he added, “we will have a process of rebuilding what was destroyed by previous governments. It is time for the oil trade union movement to put pressure on our government and the management of President Jean Paul Prates so that what was presented in President Lula’s government program will be put into practice.” 

To organize and prioritize their demands, the Social Observatory of Petroleum, linked to the National Federation of Petroleum Workers (FNP), published a 10-point manifesto, “Petrobras for Brazilians”, including Point 10: “Retake a 100% state-owned Petrobrás, repurchasing its shares – especially those traded on the New York Stock Exchange – and closing its capital. Additionally, reinstate the state monopoly of Oil and Gas.”

Trade Union and Social Movement Platform presents demands to the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME)

The Workers’ and Peasants’ Platform on Water and Energy (POCAE), a coalition of leading trade unions and social movements in Brazil, has published its collective energy transition demands and proposals to the leadership of the MME. 

In the past, MME Minister Silveria opposed privatisation in the energy sector, but unions recognize the need for ongoing pressure from the trade union movement to move him and the new administration toward policy reforms that support a public pathway in energy. The demands made by POCAE to the MME were published in December 2022 in the document “For Energy Sovereignty and Open Prices.” The demands include recovering energy sovereignty, reclaiming Electrobras and privatized parts of Petrobras to the public sector, and instituting policies for the state-led reindustrialization of the energy supply chain. 

According to Fernando Fernandes, coordinator of POCAE, “The leading trade unions and organisations that make up the Workers’ and Peasants’ Platform for Water and Energy have been presenting proposals in the energy and water sectors. Lula was elected with the support of a broad front of diverse social sectors, some of who disagreed with the proposals of the unions and popular movements. In view of this, we have collectively built this document to present our concerns and list some points that we hope will be commitments assumed by a minister of Mines and Energy in Lula’s government,” explained Fernandes. Speaking to POCAE’s priorities in upcoming months, Fernandes asserts, “first, it is necessary to pressure the MME to commit to pro-public energy policies and to reversing the privatisations of public companies, which have worsened the living conditions of the Brazilian people. It is critical to continue to push trade union and organisational demands as well as alternative programs.”

TUED’s Partnership with the City University of New York’s School for Labor and Urban Studies 

Since 2015, the City University of New York’s School for Labor and Urban Studies has contributed critical support for the TUED project. Collaborations with CUNY SLU include the New Labor Forum national journal, the Reinventing Solidarity podcast, support for the 2020 Global Trade Union Assembly, as well as ongoing opportunities to engage with SLU students and its community through public programming and student scholarships. 

“Reinventing Solidarity” Podcast episodes featuring TUED’s work (in English):

On the evening of March 7th, between 7-8 pm ET, CUNY SLU and TUED will co-host a public event titled “Learning from Global South Unions: Student Voices on Climate Action and a Just Energy Transition.” 

Join to learn from SLU students and Trade Unions for Energy Democracy about the launch of TUED South in Africa and upcoming opportunities for students and other activists to learn about climate action and organising with unions globally for a public pathway to a just energy transition. The event will be in English. For the zoom link, please register here

In solidarity,

The TUED Team

Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) is a global, multi-sector trade union initiative to advance democratic direction and control of energy in a way that promotes solutions to the climate crisis, energy poverty, the degradation of both land and people, and responds to the attacks on workers’ rights and protections. TUED is is part of the Global Labour Institute Network. 

News and events

Women in clickwork: upward mobility or a step backwards on the path to equality?

Georgia Montague-Nelson from GLI Manchester has co-authored an article with Miriam Oliver from the GIZ Gig Economy Initiative that explores the gendered dynamics of clickwork and ChatGPT.

ChatGPT is reliant on data that is first sorted by human input. These human labourers (‘clickworkers’) train the software. Although offering flexible working that is often an attractive option for women in the Global South, stacked inequalities within the clickwork economy can exacerbate women’s already unequal position and lead to them becoming a silenced and invisibilised workforce. The article explores whether clickwork is a liberating force for women in the Global South, or is simply reproducing gendered and class-based inequalities?

Click here to read the article.

Click here to read the extended version of the article.

News and events

GLI Job Opportunity – Researcher/Educator

  • 6-month contract
  • Based in Manchester UK
  • Flexible working (full-time or minimum equivalent of three days per week) 
  • Salary: £25,000 – 32,000 full-time equivalent 

The Global Labour Institute (GLI Network Ltd) is looking to appoint a member of staff for research and education programmes with the international trade union movement. The contract will be for 6 months, potentially extendable pending resources. 

GLI ( is a small not-for-profit independent organisation, based in the UK. It was formed in 2010 to work with the trade union movement to encourage and support international solidarity and organisation through education and research. It is underpinned by the principles of democratic socialism, equality and environmental justice, but is not party-political. 

We specialise in research and education for trade union organisation among precarious and informal workers; research and education in the areas of gender and ‘just transition’; design, management and evaluation of international trade union capacity development and education programmes; and the history and political agenda of the international trade union movement.

Job Description

Main role: To support the planning and delivery of GLI’s research and education programmes with particular reference to:

  • Partnership work with the Global Union Federations and their affiliates to develop education programmes on the political history and development of international trade unionism
  • Projects commissioned by national unions, international federations, and related institutions
  • The informal transport economy, in partnership with the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF)
  • Unite the Union national education courses on organising in the global workplace, industrial policy and transition to a zero-carbon economy

Main duties: To work as part of a small team to undertake:

  • Desk research and writing on wide range of issues relevant to the international trade union movement 
  • Field research in partnership with local trade unions, academic institutions and partner organisations 
  • Design and delivery of national and international workshops, seminars and courses for trade union representatives 
  • Preparation of reports, education materials and internet resources for trade union representatives, negotiators, educators and partner organisations

Person Specification


  • Broad understanding of the principles and objectives of the labour movement, and an appreciation of the political foundations of the GLI and its partner organisations 
  • Interest in key issues of globalisation, climate change, just transition, gender equality, labour and human rights, international development and democracy 
  • Research capability to a high academic standard
  • Experience of working with trade unions, workers’ associations, or community-based organisations in the global South
  • Evidence of the ability to communicate complex ideas and information in plain English, both orally and in writing. 
  • Strong organisational skills and capability to manage work efficiently, imaginatively and cooperatively as part of a small team 
  • Competence in Microsoft Office applications, including Word, Excel, and Powerpoint 
  • Ability and evidence of the eligibility to work in the UK
  • Ability and willingness to undertake international travel 


  • Non-English language skills, especially French and/or Spanish
  • Master’s degree, equivalent experience or another post-graduate qualification 
  • Adult education or trade union education teaching experience
LocationGLI office in central Manchester 
Hours/durationFlexible but at least three days per week.
6-month contract (potentially extendable pending resources).
Salary range£25,000 – 32,000 full-time equivalent
Start dateThe successful candidate will be available to start in April 2023.
Interviews Short-listed candidates will be offered the opportunity of an interview to be conducted in person or on zoom during the week beginning 13th February. It is possible that candidates will be required to attend a second interview soon thereafter.

If you are interested, please send your CV and a covering letter (maximum 800 words) setting out your interest and suitability for the position to (by email only please).  

Deadline for applications: 12:00 noon (UK time) Wednesday 8th February 2023.

Click here to download the job description and person specification.

News and events

TUED Bulletin 126 – Building the Public Pathway in Chile

Report by Lala Peñaranda, TUED Latin America organizer 

This bulletin includes three sections: (1) a report back from our discussions with Chilean trade unions, (2) a brief summary of Our Future is Public conference, and (3) an invitation to the upcoming December 21st TUED Global Forum. 

In early December, TUED participated in the Our Future is Public conference in Santiago Chile, organized by Public Services International (PSI), the Transnational Institute (TNI), and the Tax Justice Network, among others.  Following the conference, TUED co-organized a strategy session with affiliates of the country’s main trade union body, CUT Chile

Meanwhile, momentum is building for the next TUED Global Forum on Wednesday, December 21st, which will focus on Global South experiences and strategies for building a public pathway. The Global Forum will feature union voices from the launch of TUED South which took place last October in Nairobi (See below). Register for the Global Forum here and share the invitation with your union members and allies.   

CUT Chile and TUED Unions Discuss Challenges and Possibilities 

On December 3rd, CUT Chile and TUEDco-organized a strategy session at the historic headquarters of the national center. TUED also engaged in discussions with several CUT affiliates and allies, including energy unions Fentrapech (oil), Constramet (mining), FENATRAMA(public sector), and Santiago Metro workers, among others. We also heard from the Movimiento Litio para Chile, a national coalition of trade unions, academics, and social movements building towards a National Lithium Company and regional coordination of public lithium planning with the governments of Bolivia, Mexico, and Argentina. 

The CUT Chile strategy session (agenda here) was opened by CUT Chile president David Acuña and followed by two thematic sessions. The first focused on regional perspectives from Uruguay, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Chile, and Brazil on the struggle to reclaim public energy. The Chilean perspective was presented by trade union leader Williams Montes of the National Federation of Oil and Related Unions of Chile (FENATRAPECH). The second session focused on building regional support for a public pathway approach to the energy transition, The Chilean perspective was presented by the CUT Chile Environmental Secretariat, Alejandro Ochoa Gaboardi. 

In addition to CUT Chile affiliates, trade union participation included CUT-Brazil, CGT-France, Oilfield Workers Trade Union of Trinidad and Tobago, the Unión Nacional de Técnicos y Profesionistas Petroleros (Untypp), Mexico, as well as the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and Public Services International (PSI). PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli offered PSI’s support for the effort to develop a public pathway approach in Chile, and would seek to engage PSI affiliates in the effort. 

The Privatization Laboratory

The country’s economic and social fabric has been seriously damaged as a result of the full-on privatization of public services in Chile that began following the Pinochet coup and was forced through by dictatorship. 

In terms of energy, from 1970-1973 the Unidad Popular (Popular Unity/ UP) government of Salvador Allende nationalized more than 500 companies in Chile, most significantly copper, the main source of wealth. The military regime returned most of the companies to the private sector and then privatized an additional 50 of the 67 state-owned companies that existed before the UP. The power sector was fully privatized, one of the few countries in the Global South to cede complete control of its power sector to private interests. 

While this makes the challenge of reclaiming the power sector to public ownership formidable, unions in Chile expressed an interest in working alongside unions across the region to present an alternative approach to the energy transition. Furthermore, CUT Chile announced they are prioritizing the rebooting of their energy committee in order to facilitate coordination across all energy sector affiliates in the work towards a just transition. TUED looks forward to working with our Chilean comrades and supporting this effort. 

During the past decade, various governments have sought to develop solar power in Chile, with for-profit multinationals from Spain, China and elsewhere carving out considerable space. The largest solar companies include Acciona (Spain), JinkoSolar (China), Trina Solar (China), Enel Green Power (Italy), and First Solar (US). 

Speaking on its operations within the country, Enel recently described Chile as its longstanding “testing ground for the Enel Group’s innovations,” adding that Enel has been “unrivaled in its ability to seize the opportunity offered by the Chilean government when it sought companies to invest in renewable energies.” Enel, which is involved in Chile’s  solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric sector, boasts that in “the last three years we have signed more than 300 Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for the sale of more than 150 TWh of electricity, 75% of which is certified renewable energy.” 

Plans are also being developed for several hydrogen projects, but the sector is facing opposition as well as rising prices and technical challenges due to the neglect of the transmission and distribution infrastructure. 

While presented as an example of how to drive an energy transition,modern renewables (wind and solar) contribute around 10% of the country’s power. It’s questionable whether or not the country’s “net zero by 2050” target will be achieved absent a major change in policy.  

The Difficult Road Back 

A recurring theme throughout our discussions with Chilean trade union leaders was the significance of regional coordination, namely how unions in Chile and across Latin America can work together as a block to develop a public pathway alternative to the neoliberal approach to energy transition. 

Comrades from Chile presented a number of key challenges facing the trade union movement. The current political situation is less favorable than it was just a year ago. On September 4, 2022,  Chileans  cast their ballots in a plebiscite that decided the fate of a new draft constitution, with 62% of the votes favoring “rechazo” or rejection. Although a new constitution will be drafted, the “rechazo” was a serious setback for the government and the trade unions. Just three years ago (October 2019) the country witnessed a historic mass uprising, and a year later Chileans overwhelmingly voted in favor of replacing the 1980 Constitution from the Pinochet era. In December 2021, Gabriel Boric was elected as president with 55.8 % of the vote. 

Taking a medium term view, the discussions focused on how unions in Chile and across the Latin American subcontinent can work together to develop a public pathway alternative to the neoliberal approach to energy transition. 

“We want to strengthen our international connections in the fight to reclaim energy. Our task is difficult, but together we can win,” said William Montes of the National Federation of Oil and Related Unions of Chile (FENATRAPECH). 

Social Movements Declare: Our Future is Public!

Our Future is Public (#OFiP22) Conference, held between November 29- December 2 in Santiago, Chile, gathered social movements and organizations to develop strategies and narratives aimed at strengthening public services while tackling climate change and the materialization of economic, social and cultural rights. 

The first two days were dedicated to sectoral meetings on energy, health, education, agriculture, economic justice and social protection, food systems, housing, transportation, waste and water. The final two days consisted of collective discussion on cross-cutting themes including the climate emergency, gender equality, economic and tax justice, and democratic ownership. The Santiago Declaration 

The energy sector two-day meetings, which TUED co-organized, included presentations by TUED union leaders and had the following goals: 

  1. Build bigger and stronger alliances to develop effective demands around public ownership underpinned by energy democracy and community participation. 
  2. Bring public energy, energy democracy, ecofeminism, decolonisation, environmental and Indigenous justice groups together to develop a shared analysis and way forward. 
  3. Develop a common narrative and energy programme, meaning a number of programmatic demands that unpacks public ownership as the pre-condition and democratic mechanisms as tools to turn vision around Indigenous Peoples justice, ecofeminism, and decolonisation into policy proposals. 
  4. Identify strategic opportunities for collective action.

The conference’s public document, the Santiago Declaration, is being finalized and will be published in the coming weeks, viewable on the PSI website.

Upcoming Global Forum: Join the Discussion! 

TUED will host a Global Forum on Wednesday, December 21 @ 8am ET/New York (find your local times here)  during which we will hear about the launch of “TUED South” in Nairobi in mid-October. Interpretation will be available in Spanish, French, Portuguese, and English. 

The Global Forum will dive into the TUEDSouth framing document, which offers a preliminary framework to address issues of the energy transition, energy poverty, and expansion of fossil fuels in the Global South.  

We also hope to hear reports from comrades who attended COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, and the 5th ITUC World Congress in Melbourne.  Register for the Global Forum here and please share the invitation with your union members and allies.   

In Solidarity,
The TUED Team

Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) is a global, multi-sector trade union initiative to advance democratic direction and control of energy in a way that promotes solutions to the climate crisis, energy poverty, the degradation of both land and people, and responds to the attacks on workers’ rights and protections. TUED is is part of the Global Labour Institute Network. 

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PSI Guide on Rebuilding the Social Organisation of Care

Care is the activities that are needed to satisfy our basic needs to exist. It is the glue that holds societies together and enables economies to function. It is essential for the existence and the reproduction of societies.

In many countries, caring for the young, elderly, and vulnerable has long been part of social protection and welfare institutions. But years of austerity, neoliberal reforms, and privatisation have resulted in a care system that is failing to provide for the needs of society. It also means that care workers face low wages and exploitation at work.

Across much of the Global South, social care systems are virtually non-existent, and the State is largely absent from its provision. There is also limited or extremely expensive private provision of social care. This means that most care work, including social care, takes place in families and communities and is largely provided by women.

In response to the care crisis, Public Services International (PSI) has focused on shifting approaches to care away from the dominant approach (the ‘care economy’) to the social organisation of care (SOC). PSI is calling for action to ‘rebuild the social organisation of care’ to a new model that puts caring for people over caring for profits. PSI has called for 5Rs as a way forward to fix the care crisis:

  1. Recognise the social and economic value of care work (paid or unpaid) and the human right to care.
  2. Reward, remunerate and represent care work and care workers with professionalised work, equal pay for work of equal value, adequate pensions, comprehensive social protection, healthy and safe working conditions, strong representation, unionisation, and collective bargaining and social dialogue in line with the ILO Decent Work Agenda.
  3. Reduce the burden of unpaid care work on women.
  4. Redistribute care work within households, among all workers, eliminating the sexual division of labour, and between households and State.
  5. Reclaim the public nature of care services and restore the duty and the primary responsibility of the State to provide public care services and develop care systems that transform gender relations and women’s lives – including by financing State’s capacity to invest through fair and progressive taxation and ensuring internationally equal taxing rights of nation States. 

GLI Manchester was commissioned by PSI to produce a guide on Rebuilding the Social Organisation of Care. The guide includes both an Advocacy Guide and an Activity Workbook that aim to assist trade unions and women workers around the world to make PSI’s Care Manifesto an instrument of trade union political action at the local level, to rebuild the social organisation of care for a new model that puts caring for people over caring for profits.

The Advocacy Guide includes information about the key issues facing paid and unpaid care workers and key demands – organised around the 5Rs – to support unions when campaigning around the human right to care and care as a public good. It also includes examples of union action, relevant international standards and further resources that might be useful.

The Activity Workbook contains training materials to strengthen understanding of the key issues and build trade union capacity – particularly amongst women – to enable unions to develop practical action. 

Click here to read the Advocacy Guide in English. 

Click here to read the Advocacy Guide in Spanish. 

Click here to read the Activity Workbook in English. 

Click here to read the Activity Workbook in Spanish. 

The guide is also available as a digital publication on the PSI website. Click here to access the digital publication.

News and events

TUED Bulletin 123 – South Africa: Unions and Allies form United Front, Call for “Public Pathway” Approach to Energy Transition

The fight to defend public energy in South Africa has grown more intense in recent weeks. The country  has been hit by years of power cuts (“load shedding”) that is, TUED and its allies have argued, the direct result of years of political attacks on the public utility known as Eskom. 

In a major statement on July 26th, President Ramaphosa announced that the private sector was ready to address the country’s growing energy crisis, and the government intended to remove “red tape” in order to invite more investment from so-called independent power producers (or IPPs). South African Broadcasting Corporation footage of Ramaphosa’s statement is here. It includes a response from TUED’s Sean Sweeney towards the end of the broadcast that warned against expecting private companies to come to the rescue. 

The day after Ramaphosa’s statement, unions and allies in the social movements came together in Johannesburg to form a United Front to Address Loadshedding and resolved to fight for an alternative “public pathway” approach to energy transition. The meeting was organised by the Alternative Information and Development Center and TUED.  

Endorsing the United Front are key unions, including the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM); the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), the South African Trade and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU).

 See: Full statement and signatories to the United Front initiative.

A similar statement was released by NUMSA .

Click here to read more.

Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) is a global, multi-sector trade union initiative to advance democratic direction and control of energy in a way that promotes solutions to the climate crisis, energy poverty, the degradation of both land and people, and responds to the attacks on workers’ rights and protections. TUED is is part of the Global Labour Institute Network. 

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ILO C190: ITF Transport Workers Toolkit

Violence and harassment is endemic in the transport industry, affecting women workers disproportionately.

In 2019, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) adopted ILO Violence and Harassment Convention (No.190) and Recommendation (No.206). These international tools were introduced to tackle violence and harassment in the world of work.

As we celebrate the second anniversary of ILO Convention 190 coming into force, the International Transportworkers Federation (ITF) has launched a transport focused C190 toolkit.

GLI Manchester was commissioned by the ITF to produce this transport toolkit on C190. The toolkit is a supplement to the joint GUFs toolkit, that was also produced by GLI Manchester.

Since transport is identified in C190 as one of the sectors most exposed to violence and harassment, this new toolkit highlights the issues and C190 language that are key for transport workers. The toolkit helps to recognise different forms of violence and harassment; it addresses the myths, stigma and shame around these issues; and includes tools to encourage and support union action to build and strengthen C190 campaigns.  

The toolkit includes a set of briefings on issues that affect transport workers most significantly and a separate briefing on identifying targets and allies to strengthen the campaign. Each briefing looks at understanding the issue and its importance for transport workers; what C190 can do to help; and includes activity to encourage to union action.

The toolkit aims to:

  • Demonstrate how violence and harassment in the world of work, including gender-based violence and harassment, impacts all transport workers, in particular women workers and other vulnerable groups.  
  • Raise awareness of C190 and R206 and their relevance for all transport workers and highlight the importance of ratification and implementation.  
  • Outline how C190 and R206 can be used as a tool for advocacy and encourage unions to plan and organise campaigns on violence and harassment.  
  • Encourage unions to use the language of C190 most relevant for transport workers to promote ratification and implementation, and to negotiate with employers and other key stakeholders.  
  • Emphasise the role of women transport workers in making C190 effective. 

Click here to read the toolkit in English.

News and events

TUED Working Paper – Hydrogen in the Transition to a Low-Carbon Future: The Case for Public Ownership

Recent years have seen a surge of interest in hydrogen, and especially in its potential role in decarbonizing energy systems and wider economies. References to “green,” “blue” and “clean” hydrogen may at times be confusing, but can also leave the impression that the important issues around hydrogen are simple and well understood, or at least should be relatively easy to sort out. TUED’s latest Working Paper, True Colors: What Role Can Hydrogen Play in the Transition to a Low-Carbon Future? argues that such an impression could hardly be further from the truth.

The paper argues that mainstream policy voices and private-sector interests have largely shaped and driven the debates around hydrogen, without seriously questioning, let alone challenging, current policy and ownership patterns. As a result, these debates often take place as if the priority is to choose among technology options, without worrying about what else might need to change in order for any of those options to be able to really help solve the climate and energy crisis.

Hydrogen and the Decarbonization Challenge

Hydrogen already plays an important role in many industrial and other processes. Large quantities of hydrogen are used in refining petroleum, in the production of steel, ammonia and other chemicals, as a coolant in power stations, and much more. Hydrogen can be used to produce electricity through fuel cells, which can power vehicles or be fed into electrical grids. It can be used as a fuel for heat or to drive gas turbines, or can be converted into ammonia or other fuels. In principle, it can be produced from “carbon-free” sources and used as a fuel in ways that produce only water as waste.

But ensuring that hydrogen can play a significant role in decarbonization would require both a major expansion of its use — into more of industry, as well as into sectors where it is currently hardly used at all, like transport and power generation — as well as the decarbonization of its own production — either by “capturing” emissions generated during its production from fossil fuels (often called “blue hydrogen”) or, preferably, by producing it through processes that generate few or no emissions to begin with (often called “green hydrogen”).

The paper provides an overview of the technical facts about hydrogen’s current role in the economy, as well as the much-expanded role it is expected to play in major decarbonization scenarios, and the levels of investment required to achieve that expanded role. It also explains the various “colors” of hydrogen that readers might encounter in these debates, and outlines the technical issues and challenges involved in the main options for decarbonizing hydrogen production that figure in popular reporting and debates. 

Regarding “green hydrogen for grid storage” in particular — which many consider to hold significant potential as part of decarbonized electrical systems based on wind and solar power generation — the paper offers a deep dive into the production processes involved, the options for storage, and the reconversion of stored hydrogen into usable electrical power. It argues that, given the energy losses and technical hurdles involved at each stage, relying on private sector investment to drive the scaling up of hydrogen in ways that support the kinds of decarbonization we need seems highly unrealistic. The paper argues that, given the technical challenges involved in scaling up hydrogen in line with meeting the decarbonization challenge, there can be little doubt that doing so requires a dramatic shift in approach — a shift away from trying to “incentivize” private investors, and toward a planned, coordinated mobilization under public ownership and control.

Hydrogen and the Case for Public Ownership

The paper concludes by offering reflections aimed at developing an alternative approach that offers a better chance at achieving decarbonization, and at allowing hydrogen to play whatever role it can in helping to reach that goal — a “pro-public vision for hydrogen in decarbonization.” It argues that only an approach grounded in public ownership, decommodification, and freeing the development and deployment of hydrogen (and other technologies) from the imperatives of profit stands any real chance of delivering the energy transition that workers, as well as their unions, communities and allies, urgently need.

Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) is a global, multi-sector trade union initiative to advance democratic direction and control of energy in a way that promotes solutions to the climate crisis, energy poverty, the degradation of both land and people, and responds to the attacks on workers’ rights and protections. TUED is is part of the Global Labour Institute Network. 

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TUED Working Paper 14 – Beyond Disruption: How Reclaimed Utilities Can Help Cities Meet Their Climate Goals

In recent years hundreds of cities have adopted 100% renewable energy targets. This has left many with the impression that cities are “taking the lead” in addressing climate change, showing more ambition than most national governments, and taking measures to disrupt energy markets in ways that challenge the dominance of large energy utilities. Cities are believed to be both riding and driving a technological revolution that is reflected in the growth of local-level energy generation and the proliferation of “distributed energy resources” such as rooftop solar panels, battery storage, and digital control systems. Electricity users, on this view, are becoming increasingly active players in electricity markets, turning from “consumers” to “prosumers.” The days of centralized power generation, from this perspective, are thus numbered.

TUED’s Working Paper 14, Beyond Disruption: How Reclaimed Utilities Can Help Cities Meet Their Climate Goals, shows that this image of cities as “climate leaders” is misleading, as is the idea that large energy utilities are becoming obsolete. The paper documents  the technical limitations of city-level energy generation (principally solar photovoltaics), and shows that public subsidies, not “active consumers” or competitive markets, are driving many of the changes taking place. 

The paper also shows that cities will not be able to reach their renewable energy targets without sourcing energy from large energy companies. This is already happening through power purchase contracts with for-profit entities, producing outcomes that contribute to energy poverty, compromise energy security, and cause technical problems that threaten to put climate targets beyond reach. The real “disruption” in electrical power systems is being felt by working people, while large energy interests continue to reign supreme. 

As an alternative, Beyond Disruption proposes a “public-public partnership” approach in which  progressive municipalities can partner with utilities to drive energy efficiency, conservation, digitalisation, and a managed growth in distributed generation. For this approach to succeed, however, energy systems must be brought back into public ownership, and utilities still under public ownership (full or partial) must be fully “demarketized,” and issued a “new mandate” that reflects social and ecological goals and operating principles. Rather than being compelled to meet the needs of private investors for “acceptable returns on investment,” reclaimed utilities will be key partners in what will be a decades-long effort to decarbonize the economy. 

Just a few years ago, proposals to reclaim energy to public ownership would have been dismissed as “mission impossible,” but today many in the policy mainstream are questioning the current “energy for profit” policy framework. Concerns about climate change, energy security, and unreliable power increasingly demonstrate the need for a public pathway approach to the energy transition.

As many unions today recognise, a public pathway approach will require repealing the neoliberal reforms of the 1980s and 1990s and reversing the drive to further liberalise and privatise the electricity sector (a drive that is currently being pursued in many countries of the Global South).  A full-on energy transition must involve a phase-out of so-called competitive electricity markets and the decommodification of electricity, as articulated in the Trade Union Program for a Public, Low-Carbon Energy Future, which is already supported by 50 trade union bodies from two dozen countries and regions around the world.  

The reforms articulated by the Trade Union Program  would set the stage for strong partnerships between cities around the pursuit of climate targets and economy-wide decarbonisation. Reclaimed companies and municipalities should have full control over prices in order to address energy poverty and discourage the wasteful use of electricity.  Progressive cities that aspire to control their energy systems (including distribution grids) can build on what they have already achieved by using their political strength to insist on a full reclaiming of energy to public control. 

As the paper argues, “the incumbent energy companies will not be dis­rupted out of existence; rather, they will remain dominant as market players and, under the current neoliberal framework, they will help perpetuate an energy for profit regime. If this is not changed, then cities will not be able to reach their energy and decarbonization targets.

Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) is a global, multi-sector trade union initiative to advance democratic direction and control of energy in a way that promotes solutions to the climate crisis, energy poverty, the degradation of both land and people, and responds to the attacks on workers’ rights and protections. TUED is is part of the Global Labour Institute Network.