Some UK Union Members Push for Greener Workplaces

Electrical engineering, electronics and information technology representatives of Unite, the largest union in the United Kingdom, are calling for statutory rights for union representatives to gain access to environmental impact information on companies, among other things.

The sector also is calling for company executives to have their pay and bonuses linked to meeting environmental targets. The union has published a report "How Green Is My Workplace?" The publication gives guidance on how union representatives can raise awareness of environmental issues to make workplaces greener.

In a survey of 10,000 Unite members in the electronics and IT sector, 83 percent believed that their workplace wasted energy and resources, and 87 percent believed unions should be involved in designing and implementing measures that help to improve the impact of workplaces on the environment.

Workers can contribute to the preservation of the environment through raising awareness of environment issues and challenging their employers to take action. Through identifying the links between good environmental practices and getting a better deal for workers, unions can put climate change on the bargaining agenda.

Unite members at Cummins have helped to establish an environmental committee to reflect the eco-credentials of the employer. The company manufactures wind turbines and aims to recycle all waste produced in the manufacturing process. At Fujitsu, Unite members take part in the company's Green Team initiative and have introduced environmental training for employees.

"The commitment of industry to deal with climate change is growing in the UK. I believe that trade unions and their members have a vital role to play. I very much welcome the contribution that Unite, Britain's biggest union, is making to this important debate," said Hilary Benn, secretary of state for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. "Trade Unionists can really help change to happen in the workplace as part of the move to a lower carbon economy. I hope that this publication will be widely read and will raise awareness of climate change."

"The outlook is very clear. No employer will make money from a dead planet and no worker will gain from being part of a poisoned population," said Peter Skyte, Unite national officer.

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