Sunday, 1 February 2009

Green union reps

Jean has been working for many years on trade union issues, particularly in the areas of public services, opposition to privatisation, and the environment in the workplace. On the last issue, she was the co-sponsor of a Parliamentary Written Declaration in 2008 (number 88/2008), calling for legally mandated 'green reps' in workplaces. The idea has been championed by trade unions as a way to deliver greener workplaces through collective agreements between employers, employees and unions.

Dedicated green reps would raise environmental awareness as well as negotiate for the introduction of new environmental practices, and would have legal protection (as health and safety reps currently do, for example) and time during work to pursue environmental issues.

Over half of carbon emissions in the UK are work-related, so businesses have a vitally important role to play in tackling climate change.

Jean, who sits on the Employment and Social Affairs Committee in the European Parliament said:

"Dedicated union green reps have the potential to raise awareness of environmental issues and help to change behaviour in the workplace. They would also help deliver significant environmental improvements through engagement between employers and the workforce that will help the UK shift to a low carbon economy.

"There is huge potential for trade union members to play a significant role as green representatives at work, but to perform their role effectively they need legal recognition and the right to undertake relevant training and duties."

The Green Party of England and Wales adopted a motion at their last conference calling for Green Reps to be recognised under the law. This was put forward by Jean, and was passed unanimously. Jean has also recently published her new report on Green Work, which highlights the importance of giving Green Reps legal status.

To give credit where it is due, the Written Declaration was co-signed by Alejandro Cercas of the Socialist Group and Luigi Cocilovo from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

To dole out some shame where it is deserved, six out of the other eight London MEPs didn't bother to sign the declaration. Another sign of why we need progressive MEPs like Jean in the Parliament.


WRITTEN DECLARATION pursuant to Rule 116 of the Rules of Procedure by Jean Lambert, Caroline Lucas, Alejandro Cercas and Luigi Cocilovo on workers’ environmental representatives


Written declaration on workers’ environmental representatives

The European Parliament,
– having regard to Rule 116 of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas, given the EU Sustainable Development Strategy, the European Council (Presidency Conclusions, 8-9 March 2007) has committed to 2020 EU targets of 20-30 % reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption reductions of 20 %, and 20 % of energy demand from renewables, and the Commission has proposed renewable energy targets for each Member State,

B. whereas industry’s meeting of environmental targets should be undertaken in a just way, requiring the active participation and support of employees and workplace representatives,

C. whereas trade unions are ideally placed to promote, implement, and help develop best environmental workplace practice,

D. whereas some employers and trade unions have developed environmental workplace policies, and workers’ environmental representatives are recognised in some workplaces,

1. Calls on the Council and Commission to acknowledge the importance of trade unions and workers’ environmental representatives in meeting environmental challenges, particularly delivering on the EU’s Sustainable Development Strategy and climate change and environmental objectives;

2. Calls on the Council and Commission to work to secure rights for workers’ environmental representatives, including time for relevant training, the undertaking of workplace environmental audits and other duties;

3. Calls on Member States to afford workers’ environmental representatives these aforementioned rights, and to work with trade unions and employers to achieve environmental objectives in the most just way;

4. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, the Council, the Commission and Member States.

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