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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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Resist and Reclaim: Mexico’s Fight for Energy Sovereignty

TUED Global Forum: Mexico’s Energy Sovereignty

Mexican energy politics have made headlines in recent weeks following a political confrontation between the AMLO administration and actors in both Mexico and the U.S. that oppose his efforts to reverse the previous administration’s steps towards privatization, and reassert the country’s energy sovereignty.

This is a pivotal moment for energy politics in Mexico — the second largest economy in Latin America — with potentially global implications for the dominant neoliberal “privatize to decarbonize” agenda. Unions in Mexico support AMLO’s proposals. A successful campaign to defend AMLO’s proposed energy policies opens the door to a “pro-public” approach to energy transition.

Unions internationally have an opportunity to build solidarity with this struggle and raise awareness about its wider significance.

TUED is holding a Global Forum on Thursday March 25 2021 at 11am-12:30pm US Eastern Time

Find your local time here. Register here

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TUED Bulletin 106: French Energy Union FNME-CGT Endorses TUED Call for Public Energy in Texas

In a March 8 Press Release, FNME-CGT — the energy and mining division of French trade union confederation CGT — has republished a TUED briefing paper on the recent power sector crisis in Texas. TUED’s briefing paper argued that the recent catastrophic power sector failures in Texas “serve as a stark warning that unregulated, privatized and marketized electricity systems pose a serious threat to human life.”

As previously reported in TUED Bulletins 104 and 105, FNME is currently involved in a major struggle by striking French electricity and gas workers in defense of the country’s publicly owned energy company, EDF. The target of the strikes is a set of proposals being advanced by the French government, at the heart of which 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.

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

With support from global union federation Public Services International (PSI), FNME-CGT and TUED are currently working to convene a Trade Union Task Force on Decarbonisation.

The Task Force will produce an interim analytical report to guide the development of a “Trade Union Charter for Public Energy in Europe,” which will be debated at a June meeting being convened by the French trade union confederation, CGT.

The June meeting will also bring together social forces from across and beyond Europe to explore and debate a broad range of issues related to the socio-ecological transformation.

Unions interested in participating should email Irene Shen at ireneTUED@gmail.com.

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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.
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A Discussion for Activists – Climate Emergency, Energy Democracy and the Labour Movement

Labour movement activists are invited to participate in an open discussion on Climate Emergency, Energy Democracy and the Labour Movement in the evening of 10th July 2019, at the Mechanics Institute, 103 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 6DD. Free Admission.

This discussion will follow a meeting between UK labour movement representatives and international allies in Manchester on 9-10 July to discuss climate emergency, public control over the power sector and the Labour Party strategy for decarbonisation.

This meeting is being organised by Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (GLI New York) and the Global Labour Institute (GLI Manchester), with the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.

Invited participants include

  • Sean Sweeney, Director of Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, New York
  • Rebecca Long-Bailey MP
  • John Mark Mwanika, Programs Officer at ATGWU, Uganda, and Chair of the Urban Transport Committee of the International Transport Workers Federation
  • Stephen Smellie, UNISON Scotland
  • Jim Mowatt, UNITE National Environment Spokesperson
  • Clara Pallard, President, Culture Group Executive Committee, PCS
  • Nessim Achouche, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Brussels
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GLI Network at COP21: Naomi Klein & Jeremy Corbyn discuss solutions to the Climate Crisis & the Role of Trade Unions

Naomi Klein photo by Kourosh-Keshiri. Jeremy Corbyn photo by Jeff Overs/BBC/PA
Naomi Klein photo by Kourosh-Keshiri. Jeremy Corbyn photo by Jeff Overs/BBC/PA

Now is Not the Time for Small Steps 

Solutions to the Climate Crisis and the Role of Trade Unions

A Conversation with Naomi Klein & UK Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn

Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) is co-hosting a public meeting with Naomi Klein and Jeremy Corbyn for trade unionists and their allies during the upcoming COP21 UN climate negotiations taking place in Paris this December. The event will take place on Monday 7th December, 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m, at the Salle Olympe de Gouges in Paris and is supported by the Global Climate Jobs Campaign, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung–New York, and the Global Labour Institute Network.

Due to hundreds of trade unionists and social movement activists registering for the meeting over the past few days, the event is now fully booked. However, you can join the waiting list for tickets that may become available closer to the event here: goo.gl/7mYivL.

We also hope that the event will be live-streamed on the internet, and details of this will be announced as soon as arrangements have been finalised.

Explaining why this meeting is so important, Sean Sweeney, co-ordinator of TUED, said: “Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate and Jeremy Corbyn’s Protecting Our Planet leadership campaign statement get to the root causes of climate change, namely an economic system that serves the interests of the large corporations and the one percent. This is the reality that unions and other social movements must confront, and it explains why the UN climate talks have failed to produce an agreement that can ensure a truly just societal transition.”

Naomi Klein’s book urges unions and their allies to step up their efforts to establish a new paradigm anchored in a far-reaching democratization of economic life. This message was recently reinforced by the documentary film of the same name (directed by Avi Lewis).

Prior to being elected leader of the Labour Party in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn issued a clear commitment to an energy transition that is “open, democratic, sustainable and accountable” and be able to deliver 100% carbon-free electrical power by 2030.

The meeting is sponsored by trade unions and global union federations from across the world, including:

Public Services International; International Transportworkers Federation; Education International; International Union of Foodworkers; Global Nurses United; Canadian Labour Congress (CLC); Central de Trabajadores Argentinos (CTA); Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Mangagawa (SENTRO) Philippines; FTQ Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec; Confédération des syndicats nationaux, Quebec; European Public Services Unions (EPSU); La Fédération Syndicale Unitaire (FSU) France; l’Union Syndicale Solidaires, France; Service Employees International Union (US & Canada); Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE); GMB, UK; National Nurses United (US); Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) United States and Canada; Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW); Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees (Fagforbundet); National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) Australia; New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA); Public & Commercial Services Union (PCS) UK; Public Services and Transport Workers Union (KPTU) Korea; UNISON, UK; UNITE the Union, UK; United Electrical Workers (UE),US; University and College Union (UCU) UK; Water Workers Union at EYATH, Thessaloniki, Greece; Dipartimento Ambiente e Territorio CGIL, Italy.

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Power to the People: Toward Democratic Control of Electricity Generation

Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) has published a new working paper, “Power to the People: Toward Democratic Control of Electricity Generation“, which aims to show how “another energy is possible, and absolutely necessary”. The paper, published by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung–New York Office, examines the actual and potential content behind the term energy democracy in order to help unions get a better grasp of what is happening now and what could happen in the future. It succinctly explains the failure of profit-driven approaches to either emissions reductions or controlling energy demand.

According to Sean Sweeney, the coordinator of TUED, “The paper is not a blueprint. It shows what is happening, and also what needs to happen in order to reduce emissions and pollution. Its main message is, if we want to control atmospheric warming and to protect our common home, then we have to get serious about reclaiming and democratizing energy.  Unions in different countries and from all sectors are increasingly aware of the need to do this.”

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 the signature project of the International Program for Labor, Climate & Environment at the Murphy Institute, City University of New York and is part of the Global Labour Institute Network.