Labour Leader to Urge Students to Combat Climate Change in the Workplace

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Donald Lafleur

 

He has been an organic farmer, postal worker and union leader, and was named Labour Environmentalist of the Year. Before the Canadian unions became leaders in the struggle to slow climate change, Donald Lafleur, executive vice-president of the Canadian Labour Congress, was training unionists about climate bargaining and green plans, and working with postal sorting stations, factories and offices to adapt the way they work in order to slow the climate warming that is threatening life as we know it.

Lafleur’s linking of work with climate change is opening a whole new path of study and research. He will speak to students enrolled in Social Sciences 1510, “The Future of Work,” taught by David Langille on Friday, March 15 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., in Room 102 Accolade East Building, (Price Family Theatre) at the Keele Campus. The lecture is open to the public.

 

Read more on Yfile.Yorku.ca

 

ACW leads conference stream on climate change and labour

 

4-6 April 2017, Sheffield, UK

At the 35th International Labour Process Conference, held in Sheffield, UK, ACW ran a special stream titled “A Volatile Political Economy: Work, Climate Change and Labour: Labour Process Perspectives”. This was for the second year running, last year’s theme at the ILPC conference in Berlin being Labour, Work and Climate Change: a labour process perspective. The stream this year was led by Professor Carla Lipsig-Mummé of York University, Toronto, Canada and Professor Linda Clarke of the University of Westminster, UK, together with Donald Lafleur, Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress and Dr. Elaine Bernard, Director of Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School, US.

The stream addressed the problematic issue that, though work, worksites and production supply chains are major polluters, the new retreat into defensive nationalism adds to the difficulties of combatting at an international level the global danger we confront. It is vital to re-connect work and political economy, so that the transition to a low carbon economy becomes an international driver for transforming the labour process to the benefit of workers. Bringing workers and unions and work itself ‘in’ to the struggle to slow global warming entails rethinking the labour process through a green lens, and adapting key steps in the chain of production to mitigate greenhouse gases. It entails reconsidering the legal, political and economic contexts that hinder or facilitate workplace low-carbon adaptation, bringing labour and environment law together, criticising work design and current business models for their carbon excesses, and rediscovering the influential roles that workers, their unions and professional associations can play in adapting and improving the labour process. And, finally, it means understanding the ways in which political economies and responses to climate change affect not only the labour process, but union goals, alliances, modes of action, organisation of young workers, political strength and strategic creativity.

Within this framework, papers were presented in four separate sessions over two days by ACW researchers, academics from universities in the UK and further afield, and those from trade union organisations.

The contributions within each themed session included:

Just Transition
• Slow Greening: Climate Literacy and the Labour Movement: Carla Lipsig-Mummé, York University, Canada
• Just Transition in a Neoliberal Context: the contradictions of labour-market policy in post-petro-state Canada: Donald Lafleur and Chris Roberts, Canadian Labour Congress
• Contesting Just Transition: a sufficient challenge to capitalist labour processes? (Ewan Kerr, University of Glasgow)

Energy Provision
• Romance or Chimaera? Industry Policy and Job Quality in European Offshore Wind Turbine Manufacturing: Lisa Shulte, Middlesex University, UK
• Decarbonising the Electricity Grid: the implications for organised labour: Colin Patrick Gleeson, University of Westminster, UK

VET for low energy construction
• Promoting Climate Literacy in British Columbia’s Apprenticeship System: evaluating one union’s efforts to overcome barriers to low carbon construction: John Calvert, Simon Fraser University, Canada
• The Role of Labour and VET in meeting Low Energy Construction Targets, Linda Clarke and Melahat Sahin-Dikmen, University of Westminster

Green Employment
• More and Better Jobs in a Low Carbon Future: provocations and possibilities: Steven Shelley, University of Hertfordshire, UK
• Gamification as Employment Strategy for Greening the Labour Process: Dean Stroud and Claire Evans, Cardiff University, UK
• The Role of Trade Unions in the Transformation towards a Low Carbon Economy: Bela Galgoczi, European Trade Union Institute, Belgium

Lively discussions followed the presentations, highlighting the significance of agency and vision in influencing the nature of the response to climate change and the critical necessity of bringing a labour perspective to bear on green transition approaches and policies by government and non-government organisations and agencies. Presentations were also informative about regional green transition initiatives involving trade unions, with discussions focusing particularly on British Columbia, Canada, the Ruhr region in Germany and Yorkshire and Humberside in the UK. Insights into the practical implementation, consequences and implications of green transitions were given in discussions about work and employment conditions in wind turbine manufacturing, training and skill needs in construction, and energy efficiency regulations in energy-intensive industries.

On the third day, the stream concluded with a panel discussion on ‘Green labour in dark times’, facilitated by responses to an imaginary scenario from 2035, when two major forces co-exist, digitalisation and climate change: can they combine or are they on a collision course? With examples of green transition initiatives from across a number of countries and regions, the possibility and need to allow for different green transitions pathways also came to the fore in the final debate. Above all, the fundamental role trade unions play in representing the interests of labour in what is a hugely complex, uneven and long transition to a green economy was reinforced.

It is intended that some of the contributions given at Sheffield and at last year’s Berlin conference will, together with contributions from ACW and other international researchers be included in two books and a special journal.

Linda Clarke, Carla Lipsig-Mummé and Melahat Sahin-Dikmen
June 2017

Climate change and work: international perspectives

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Workshop

hosted by Sheffield Climate Alliance, Sheffield Trade Union Council
and international trade unionists and researchers

Tuesday 4th April, 6.30pm to 9pm
Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James’ St, Sheffield S1 2EW

Free event with buffet supper – please book on Eventbrite by 30 Mar:
www.eventbrite.com/e/climate-change-and-work-international-perspectivestickets-32880462348

At the beginning of April, academic researchers and trade unionists from various countries
will be in Sheffield to participate in the Climate Change and Work stream of the 32nd
International Labour Process Conference at the University of Sheffield.

The Adapting Canadian Workplaces programme (www.adaptingcanadianwork.ca/), led by
Professor Carla Lipsig Mummé will be strongly represented. ACW partners include many
Canadian trade unions, including the Postal Workers, Union of Public Employees, United
Steelworkers, and British Columbian Building Trades, as well as the Labor Network for
Sustainability. The project has been building databases of collective agreement clauses and
training programmes on climate change.

We are offering the chance to meet and exchange ideas about what is being done locally in
the Sheffield area and in other parts of the globe.
International participants include:

  • Donald Lafleur, Vice President of the Canadian Labour Congress
  • Bela Galgoczi from the European Trade Union Institute
  • Carla Lipsig Mummé, of York University, Toronto
  • John Calvert, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia

 

And from the UK:

  • Graham Petersen, UCU and Greener Jobs Alliance (www.greenerjobsalliance.co.uk/)
  • Dean Stroud and Claire Evans of Cardiff University
  • Linda Clarke and Colin Gleeson, ProBE, University of Westminster
  • Martin Mayer, Sheffield TUC

 

A buffet supper and coffee/tea will be available and afterwards we will adjourn to a
local pub for drinks and a chance to chat further. Please book on Eventbrite so we
know numbers.

 

Sheffield Climate Alliance: info@sheffieldclimatealliance.net or
Linda Clarke: clarkel@wmin.ac.uk or 07821610665

ACW Members Discuss Alberta Wildfire, Approve New Research Projects at Steering Committee Meeting

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The tragedy of Fort McMurray and the devastation caused by the wildfire was top-of-mind when members of the Steering Committee of the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond the Climate Change (ACW) project gathered at York University on May 28.

Members shared concern about the impact on the community, and sought ways that the project’s research might contribute to the rebuilding effort, especially ways that would support climate change mitigation and adaptation using low-carbon construction methods.

“Our research on the need for low-carbon buildings and well-trained construction workers could be essential to policy makers who are seeking way to rebuild Fort McMurray, while also advancing employment opportunities for displaced Albertans,” said Dr. Carla Lipsig-Mummé, Principal Investigator of the ACW project.

In addition to discussing the Alberta tragedy and receiving a briefing from Canadian Labour Congress Executive Vice-President Donald Lafleur, Steering Committee members received briefings about the International Labour Process Conference (ILPC) 2016 that took place in April where many members presented their research.

As well, members learned about the new ACW-W3 book to be published by Marjorie G. Cohen on climate, gender, policy and work in rich countries in paperback as well as hardcover, and considered new opportunities for collaboration between the ACW project and other organizations.

Several exciting events are being planned as well, including public panels in Ottawa and Toronto following the U.S. election in the Fall of 2016, and a major public event in Vancouver linking ACW’s work with the Green Jobs BC conference.

Steering Committee members also funded five new research projects that will be conducted in Canada, the U.K., the U.S., and the E.U by participating researchers and partner institutions. In addition, members endorsed the establishment of a network of Graduate Research Fellows of the ACW project.

Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change: Canada in International Perspective (ACW) is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Program–funded project, based at York University.