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green jobs

Canada: New openings for workers in Toronto

Participants at the Stewards' Assembly. Photo by John Maclennan.

By Herman Rosenfeld

March 2010 -- Relay (Socialist Project) -- In the context of an economic crisis where working people in Ontario, Canada, have suffered major setbacks, organised labour’s response has so far been disappointing. Apart from a few public sector strikes forced by employer concession demands, some longer-term strikes against concessions (such as the Vale-Inco struggle), a number of workplace occupations demanding severance pay and a few demonstrations calling for pension protection and Employment Insurance (EI) changes, there has been little resistance. This has forced activists in the trade union movement, and the left more widely, to confront the limits of our present organisational situation, and to begin to look for new ways to move forward.

Fourth International: Mobilisation for the climate and anti-capitalist strategy

[The following documents dealing with capitalism's climate crisis were presented at the 16th World Congress of the Fourth International, held in Belgium in February 2010.]

* * *

By Daniel Tanuro

February 2010 -- Three billion human beings lack the essentials of life. The satisfaction of their needs requires increased production of material goods. Therefore increased consumption of energy. Today, 80 per cent of this energy is of fossil origin, and consequently a source of greenhouse gases which are unbalancing the climatic system.

However, we can no longer permit ourselves to unbalance the climate. We are probably no longer very far from a “tipping point” beyond which phenomena which are uncontrollable and irreversible on a human timescale are likely to be set in motion, which could lead to a situation that humanity has never experienced and which the planet has not experienced for 65 million years: a world without ice. A world in which the sea level would rise by approximately 80 metres compared to its level today.

Copenhagen: Why the West tries to blame China and the poor for COP15 fiasco

Protest in Copenhagen.

By Roy Wilkes

December 27, 2009 -- Socialist Resistance -- Something rotten happened in Denmark. The fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP15), in which so many had invested so much hope, began as farce and ended in tragedy. Anyone who still had the faintest illusion that the climate crisis could be resolved within capitalism has now seen it fatally dashed against the rocks of Copenhagen.

Of course, our rulers cannot blame themselves for this fiasco. So, who then is to blame? “China”, screams a furious Ed Milliband [the British Labour government's Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change] upon his return to London, with the media machine joining the chorus. Blame China! Blame Venezuela! Blame the poor countries who obstructed "The Deal"! Blame the victims who dared to ask for a 1.5 degree C limit, those unrealistic fools who dared to ask to be allowed to live.

Beyond Copenhagen: left alternatives to capitalism

Copenhagen, December 12, 2009. Photo by Lauren Carroll Harris.

By Lauren Carroll Harris, Copenhagen

"Can a finite Earth support an infinite project? The thesis of capitalism, infinite development, is a destructive pattern, let’s face it. How long are we going to tolerate the current international economic order and prevailing market mechanisms? How long are we going to allow huge epidemics like HIV/AIDS to ravage entire populations? How long are we going to allow the hungry to not eat or to be able to feed their own children? How long are we going to allow millions of children to die from curable diseases? How long will we allow armed conflicts to massacre millions of innocent human beings in order for the powerful to seize the resources of other peoples?"

-- Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, speaking at COP15, December 16, 2009

Debate: A Green New Deal -- dead end or pathway beyond capitalism?

December 8, 2009 -- Turbulence -- A Green New Deal is on everybody’s lips at the moment. US President Barack Obama has endorsed a very general version of it, the United Nations are keen, as are numerous Green parties around the world. In the words of the Green New Deal Group, an influential grouping of heterodox economists, Greens and debt-relief campaigners, such a ‘deal’ promises to solve the ‘triple crunch’ of energy, climate and economic crises.

John Bellamy Foster: `We can't shop our way out of the ecological crisis'

John Bellamy Foster Interviewed by Max van Lingen

[This article first appeared at MRZine. A shorter version of this interview appeared in the December issue of the Dutch newspaper The Socialist. The entire interview appears in Dutch at the website of The Socialist. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission. To read more by John Bellamy Foster, click HERE.]

Max van Lingen: Consciousness about climate change has increased enormously; however, it also seems as if there is a lack of criticism of business and government actions. Instead it appears as if people are thinking: it doesn't really matter why people act, as long as they act.

Britain: One million climate jobs now!

By the Public and Commercial Services Union (Britain)

November 15, 2009 -- Earlier this year, Britain's Campaign against Climate Change (CaCC) trade union group set up a commission to produce a detailed plan for a million ``climate'' jobs.

The commission includes academics and environmental groups as well as several unions including the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS).

In November 2009 the CaCC trade union group published a pamphlet, One million climate jobs NOW!, which sets out how this can be achieved. The pamphlet is the first stage in a national campaign to get the government to employ a million unemployed workers to save the climate. It contains the arguments workers need for building the campaign.

You can download the pamphlet here: One million climate jobs PDF or read on screen below.

 

Socialists, the environment and ecosocialism: a view from South Africa

Trevor Ngwane.

By Trevor Ngwane

November 19, 2009 -- There is an ecological crisis in the world and this crisis can be traced to capitalism. There is deforestation due to the trade in timber. There is climate change due to unsafe production methods.
The working class is the class that suffers the most from the ecological crisis. Working-class people are in the majority and their life conditions make them more vulnerable. Workers live in flimsy houses and shacks that are easily washed or swept away by strong rains and winds. When workers are sick or injured there is always not enough medical help for them.

Over the years not enough attention has been paid to this problem by socialists. What is worse is that some people who call themselves socialists have added to the ecological crisis, for example, the Soviet Union was responsible for one of the biggest nuclear accidents in human history in Chernobyl. The Chinese Communist Party continues to supervise the destruction of nature through its single-minded and ruthless adoption of capitalist production methods.

Britain: The Lucas Aerospace workers' plan -- A real Green New Deal

By Hilary Wainwright and Andy Bowman

October 9, 2009 -- Red Pepper -- Thirty-five years ago, workers at the Lucas Aerospace company formulated an ``alternative corporate plan'' to convert military production to socially useful and environmentally desirable purposes. We consider what lessons it holds for the greening of the world economy today

There are moments when a radical idea quickly goes mainstream. A cause for optimism but also caution; an opportunity for a practical challenge. The ``Green New Deal'’, a proposal for a green way out of recession, is such an idea (see interview with Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, Red Pepper, June/July 2009). It has now been adopted in some form, in theory if not in corresponding action, by governments across the world.

In Britain, the workers’ occupation of the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight – supported by green, trade union and socialist campaigners across the country – has provided a practical challenge to the government. The Vestas workers’ argument, committed as ministers say they are to green investment, is that here is an exemplary case: so intervene and save green jobs, creating a base and a beacon for further action in the same direction.

Convert the ailing car industry to socially necessary production!

A 1960s car designer's vision of the car of the future. Today, the private car's days are numbered.

With the economic recession and environmental crisis alternative plans for socially useful, sustainable production have never been more relevant argues Lars Henriksson.

When the financial shit hit the fan last year the overproduction in the auto industry became visible. In the Swedish auto industry the proportions between fan and shit was especially problematic. The crisis involved two of the world’s smallest mass producers, both owned by troubled US corporations, and both producing large, fuel consuming semi-luxury cars. In a country of 9 million it was like having two bankrupt car companies and their chain of sub contractors plus two crisis-hit truck companies in London.

The auto crisis of course became a big political issue in Sweden and still is. As elsewhere in the world there were two principle lines of argument in the mainstream discussion about what should be done.

Karen Silkwood: an inspiration to fighters for environmental justice and workers' rights

Karen Silkwood.

By Sharyn Jenkins

Thirty-five years ago, on November 13, 1974, US anti-nuclear activist and trade unionist Karen Silkwood was killed in a car crash many suspect was deliberately caused. Karen Silkwood will be remembered as someone who fought an uphill and often unpopular battle against the ruthless nuclear industry. She is an inspiration to all who believe in environmental justice and workers' rights.

Silkwood grew up in Nederland, the petrochemical heart of Texas. Following an unhappy marriage and bitter divorce, in which she lost custody of her three children, she moved to Oklahoma City to look for work. In 1972 she began work in the Kerr McGee Metallography Laboratory.

Australian socialists demand `green jobs'

A worker welds a wind turbine mast. Photo from Greenpeace.

By the Socialist Alliance

[The following leaflet was distributed at the ``switch off Hazelwood'' power station protest in Victoria on September 12 and 13, attended by more than 300 people.]

September 13, 2009 -- The transition from a fossil fuel dependent society to renewable energy is perhaps the most urgent question facing humanity. The public debate about climate change has shifted from a discussion about the reality of global warming to a discussion focused on how to transition to renewable energy.

Lucas Aerospace -- When workers said `no' to military production, `yes' to green jobs

Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

By Rob Marsden

August 22, 2009 -- Socialist Resistance -- Today, the twin drivers of economic recession and the possibility of catastrophic climate change are beginning to push working people towards action. A series of small-scale but high-profile occupations of threatened factories, not just at Vestas wind turbine plant but also at Visteon car plant, where 600 workers took on the might of Ford and won a greatly enhanced redundancy package, show what is possible. In the 1970s workers at Britain's Lucas Aerospace went even further. We look back at the lessons of Lucas Aerospace.

It is clear that if we are to avert catastrophic climate change by moving rapidly to a low-carbon economy, certain industries will have to be wound down or drastically scaled back, for example, the power generation, aviation and car industries. However, rather than this leading to a net loss of jobs, efforts must be put into creating new green jobs or ``converting'' old jobs.

Britain: Vestas workers end occupation, but `the campaign is anything but over'

Mike Bradley was one of the original workers who occupied the offices of Vestas. He gave an impassioned speech at the August 8 rally in Newport, Isle of Wight, where he reminded supporters that the struggle for Vestas to be nationalised can still be won. Video from Ventnor Blog.

[For more background information, go to http://links.org.au/node/1168 and http://links.org.au/node/1175.]

(Updated Aug. 6) Vestas workers: `Fight for green jobs not over ... Change should be made for the people, not for money'

[For more background information, go to http://links.org.au/node/1168 and http://links.org.au/node/1175.]

Ventnor Blog -- August 5, 6pm, 2009 -- With Mike Godley having left yesterday, we spoke to Mark, one of the six who are still inside at the Vestas sit-in. We discussed how they had to reorganise themselves now four people have left.

He said that that morale was still good and how they’ll “still be fighting Vestas”. Mark explained that “It was strange to have that many people leaving at once.”

It’s unclear if Vestas have applied for bailiff papers to have them removed from the building. Vestas have issued a statement that they are very patient and that they can wait. Mark said, “They did ask us yesterday that if we wanted to leave the door open they would come in and get us. We replied ‘No’.”

Public ownership of coal industry needed to move to 100% renewable energy and retain jobs

An open-cut coalmine in the Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia.

Graham Brown is a retired coalminer and a climate change activist. He’s also a member of the Upper Hunter branch of the NSW Greens party. The Hunter Valley, near the city of Newcastle, is a major source of Australia's coal exports. Brown is helping build a union and community alliance to create a “just transition” to a carbon-neutral economy. Such a transition would ensure workers in the coal industry move into alternative employment. Socialist Alliance's Zane Alcorn spoke to Brown.

How important is public ownership of electricity generation in a transition to a carbon-neutral economy?

It is definitely of the first importance. A private company is out to make a profit. When that profit starts to drop, it’ll move away. There’s no commitment to the community.

Public ownership is the reverse of that. It will enable the transition to carry through from start to finish. But it’s not going to finish, it’s going to be ongoing. Retrofitting power stations is a first step, but down the track, the best thing about renewable energy is that it is decentralised, and it will be owned by the public. Each community will have its own power generators.

For jobs and the environment: Why the workers occupied the Vestas wind turbine plant

Climate campaigners show their support for the Vestas workers.

Below is the text of a speech written by a Vestas worker for delivery at trade union and environmental movement meetings. It gives an excellent insight into the background of the struggle, and its wider political significance. It first appeared at http://savevestas.wordpress.com. See also ``Capitalism vs the environment: Wind turbine workers fight factory closure with sit-in'' for more coverage.

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I’ve come today to speak about a little factory called St. Cross on the Isle of Wight – otherwise known as Vestas; you may have heard about it before …

Rick Wolff: GM -- The system strikes back; Michael Moore: `Convert the factories to build trains, buses, windmills'

By Rick Wolff

June 5, 2009 -- The greatest tragedies among many in the collapse and bankruptcy of General Motors (GM) concern what is not happening. There are those solutions to GM's problems not being considered by Obama's administration. There are the solutions not being demanded by the United Auto Workers Union (UAW). There are all the solutions not even being discussed by most left commentators on the disaster. Finally there are crucial aspects of GM's demise not getting the attention they deserve.

What’s wrong with a 30-hour work week?

By Don Fitz

May 30, 2009 -- With millions of jobs lost during the first part of 2009, who is calling for a shorter work week to spread the work around? Not the Republicans. Not even the Democrats. But why is there nary a peep from unions?

In the US, the vehicle industry sets the pace for organised labour. The only discussion at the top levels of the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) is how quickly the gains won during the last 50 years can be given back. Does the UAW have no memory of the 1930s and 1940s when a shorter work week was at centre of organising demands?

The gross domestic product is plummeting at the same time that jobs are disappearing. Why should there be any connection between the two? If society produces 10% less, why don’t we all just work 10% less? Didn’t things work like that for hundreds of thousands of years of human existence? When people figured out easier ways to get what they needed, they spent less time doing it.

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