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TUED Bulletin 109: A Public Energy Response to the Climate Emergency: A New Labor Forum Global Roundtable

TUED Coordinator Sean Sweeney recently contributed to a Global Roundtable on national public energy responses to the climate emergency. A summary follows, with links to the print and podcast elements of the roundtable.

The spring 2021 edition of New Labor Forum features three contributions making the case for public ownership of energy in different national contexts: South Africa, the Republic of Ireland, and Mexico.

First, Dominic Brown, based in Cape Town, South Africa, explains that renewable energy advocates and much of the country’s elite see the breakup and eventual privatization of the country’s public utility as necessary to ending the country’s dependence on coal for electricity. South African unions oppose this path and have cobbled together an alliance in defense of a reformed and “demarketized” national utility to oversee what will in any case be a very challenging transition to a low-carbon economy.

Next, Sinéad Mercier documents the achievements of the rural electrification program pursued in the 1930s by the newly independent Republic of Ireland. She notes that the privatization agenda pursued during the last two decades by the European Union has subverted the country’s public goods approach to electricity provision and has also failed to meet its climate targets.

Finally, Sean Sweeney’s contribution looks at the largely unnoticed efforts by Mexico’s left MORENA government to reverse the energy privatization process set in motion by previous administrations. While Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is not a “climate champion,” Sweeney suggests his actions could set the stage for a public goods approach to decarbonization. Read the full text here, and listen to the related podcast episode here.

 

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.
 
For more information on how your union can be part of TUED, see here.
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International Trade Union Forum on Ecological and Social Transition

Over the past several months, TUED has been working with the main French trade union confederation CGT, the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Alter Summit, and the Global Labor Institute Paris to convene this global event, which will bring together unions and allies from around the world. More information, and registration details, at this link.

In preparation for the Forum, TUED has partnered with both the energy and mining division of the CGT (FNME) and Public Services International to organize a session titled Towards a Public Energy Future. The session will take place on Wednesday, June 16, from 1300 – 1600 CET.

This session will share findings of the Interim Report developed by the Trade Union Task Force for a Public Energy Future. The final report of the Task Force will be completed before COP26 in Glasgow.

 

International Trade Union Forum on Ecological and Social Transition
June 14-18: 1300-1800 CET (Find your local time here.)
June 19: 1400-1700 CET (Find your local time here.)

The social and environmental emergency, as well as the dramatic deterioration of the working and living conditions of a majority of the population since the beginning of the pandemic, has led a growing number of organizations – from company unions to professional federations to local, regional and international organizations – and other social movements to develop various strategies to respond.

This Forum was co-organized for several months with organizations from all continents. It will be an opportunity to share experiences, proposals and struggles of unions and their allies. The themes discussed will mainly revolve around: the transformation of the energy system, sectoral transitions and strategies for building power relations. Each thematic workshop is the result of preparatory work that we wish to bring up for debate. Texts summarizing our collective reflections will be made available to participants before the Forum.

The International Trade Union Forum for an Ecological and Social transition will be organized around daily sessions from 1pm to 6 pm from June 14 to 18. The sessions will combine presentation and discussion time.

It will conclude on Saturday, June 19 from 2:00 to 5:00 pm with a plenary assembly where a united appeal will be presented in view of the Cop26 in Glasgow and addressed to all social forces engaged in the construction of an ecological and social transformation. Register here.

 

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.
 
For more information on how your union can be part of TUED, see here.
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News and events

TUED Bulletin 105: Defending Public Energy, French Energy Unions Build International Support

In recent weeks, French electricity and and gas workers have been striking in defense of the country’s publicly owned energy. These actions have been led by French energy union federations FNME-CGT, CFE-CGC Énergies, FO Energie et Mines and FCE-CFDT.

Over the holiday period, 33 union bodies from 20 countries and regions signed a statement of solidarity with the striking unions and workers.

The target of the strikes is a set of proposals being advanced by the French government. At the heart of these proposals is a plan to “restructure” the country’s major national power utility, EDF. According to the unions, the proposed changes would undermine EDF’s ability to continue to operate as an integrated public utility, would jeopardize energy security and jobs, and would be against the general public interest.

For additional background information, you can read the recent Letter from CGT EDF Directors (in French; English translation available here).

As a next step, the unions will hold a “Day of Action” on Tuesday, January 19th, in a continuing display of opposition to the government’s proposals. On Twitter, you can follow developments directly (in French) via @FNMECGT.

IndustriALL Global Union has also expressed solidarity with the striking workers as part of its ongoing reporting on this crucial struggle over many months.

TUED is encouraging unions to share news of this important ongoing struggle in the fight for climate protection and a sustainable future with their members and networks.
See more information here.

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.