By Riccardo la Torre, Eastern Region FBU Secretary. Published 18th May 2019.
The 2019 Fire Brigades Union conference has voted for a strong emergency motion of solidarity with the recent movements in response to the climate crisis and for a radical ‘Socialist Green New Deal’, in Britain and internationally.
The vote came after many delegates heard youth climate striker Patrick Wakefield address a Free Our Unions fringe meeting on repealing the anti-union laws, making the case for student-worker solidarity on these issues as well as more widely, and for workers to also have the right to take industrial action for climate justice.
I’m proud of my union and our members for passing such an important motion. The trade union movement must take determined action on the climate crisis, and I believe our conference has contributed to taking the next steps.
We need to use this policy to organise and lobby the leaders of our movement and the Labour Party for genuinely socialist policies. Only by shifting the balance of power from capital towards workers can we truly tackle this threat.
Capital and employers have proven time and time again that they will not put the interests of people and planet before their own interests. It is up to us as a movement to confront and exert massive pressure on them – at the very least – before it is too late.
I hope other unions follow the FBU’s lead, begin similar discussions within their own ranks and adopt similar radical policies to feed into and shape the debate about a Green New Deal. An organised and coordinated approach is urgently needed to win the labour movement to strong socialist green solutions and strong action for them.
Proposed to FBU conference by Cambridgeshire brigade, seconded by Merseyside
Conference notes and congratulates the climate change protests that took place on the 12th and 13th May 2019 across Britain and internationally. Thousands of families marched through cities to demand urgent action on climate change and dramatic cuts in carbon emissions.
The Mothers Rise Up protest was led by eleven 11 year olds to represent the 11 years we have to act on climate change, as set out by leading climate scientists in a recent UN report.
These protests have clearly highlighted the urgency of the situation and the need for action.
Conference also notes the youth climate strikers, and welcome their commitment to working with trade unions on this matter. We should develop links and discussion with them, nationally and locally, actively looking for opportunities to coordinate our campaigning, demonstrations and action.
The labour movement needs to campaign on this matter in workplaces, industries and in government both in the UK and internationally.
Conference believes that a Socialist Green New Deal is required to shift power from capital into the hands of workers and communities to address this matter, and should include:
• A target of net-zero UK carbon emissions by 2030.
• Creating millions of public, well-paid, unionised green jobs.
• Public ownership of energy including expropriating the Big Six energy companies, creating an integrated, democratic system. Large-scale investment in renewables, rapidly phasing out fossil fuels.
• Public ownership of transport – majorly expanded, integrated, free or cheaper.
• A public program manufacturing, installing and training in renewable technologies and eliminating waste. Mass insulation and building and retrofitting zero-carbon council housing and public buildings.
• A workers-led ‘just transition’ from high-emission jobs to alternatives, with public investment guaranteeing communities and living standards.
• Democratic public ownership of banking and finance, providing resources and economic leverage.
• Pausing and moratorium on airport expansion, consulting transport-sector workers about alternatives.
• Repealing all anti-union laws, so workers can freely take industrial action over wider social and political issues, from fire safety to climate change.
Therefore conference calls on the Executive Council to lobby the Labour Party to adopt this program.