What is CAG, and why you should join?
In the aftermath of the devastating 2019-2020 bushfire season, United Workers Union members were asking how we could help.
Many members were already donating time, money, and anything useful they could to charities for both humans and wildlife – but we wanted to make sure United Workers Union members looked after each other too.
That’s when we established a $500,000 Climate Disaster Relief fund to provide financial and legal support to members directly impacted by the fires (and other future climate disasters), or who volunteered with an emergency service organisation.
But we knew there was so much more that needed to be done.
The angry summer of 2019-2020 was a turning point, a line in the sand. It became startlingly clear just how much climate change is impacting our communities now, and that this is not something we can wait to work on once all our other issues are sorted out.
And then the COVID pandemic hit, throwing another equally urgent round of crisis management into the mix – but UWU members committed to keep a focus on working toward climate justice.
With a planned climate strike for May 15 moving online, we decided it was time to hold our inaugural meeting of the UWU Climate Action Group (CAG). Hundreds of members took part in the first round of CAG online meetings at which we set a series of initial priorities for our climate work:
- Establishing an Occupation Health & Safety training around extreme weather at work
- Working with other unions and non-profit organisations to build cross-movement solidarity and collaborate around climate justice and just transitions
- Hold regular meetings and create online spaces through which UWU members can communicate and work together to build or work toward climate justice
We discussed the need to reimagine what our world looks like in a zero-emissions future, how workers can organise to protect our workplaces and communities from the impacts of climate change, and how to bring worker expertise to transition planning and implementation.
These conversations span right across the country, through diverse communities and a wide variety of different industries – but our aim is the same: to make sure we have a safe climate and sustainable future, while making sure nobody gets left behind in the transition.
Our UWU Climate Action Group is perfect to join if you want to get involved in climate action but feel it is too big or too difficult to handle on your own, or if you care about climate but don’t really see a space for yourself in the ‘environment’ movement. It’s a space to learn and share our ideas, support building climate leaders in workplaces and bring the fight for good and dignified jobs front and centre in the fight for our future.
In the time since we held our first Climate Action Group meeting, a lot has shifted in the Union movement when it comes to climate change.
The ACTU are stepping to take a more vocal role, acknowledging that climate change is in fact the single biggest threat to jobs, communities, and health and safety at work. It’s clear now that many of the same forces preventing climate action are the same forces unionists are in a constant struggle against; inequality, injustice, corporate greed and exploitation. We know from previous fights that our strength is in our shared struggle, in acting out of solidarity, and in having the courage to stand up and fight back.
Together, organised workers in the Union movement bring more than just hope to the climate movement – we bring a strong capacity to turn hope into action. We bring bravery, power, and a strong understanding of solidarity and what taking collective responsibility for each other means.
The fight for climate justice is a natural step for organised workers like us to take.
I hope you will join us:
If you are already a UWU member: Click here to join our UWU Climate Action Group
If you are not yet a UWU member, join today to get involved with our CAG.