The climate crisis is no longer a future threat - it is here, wreaking havoc on communities worldwide. But workers and unions are mobilising for just solutions. At the PSI Congress panel "Climate, Workers, and Unions," leaders shared strategies to educate, organise, and advocate for those most impacted.
Shamim Ara of Pakistan's All Sindh Lady Health Workers and Employees Union (ASLHWEU) shared firsthand experiences of recent devastating floods, highlighting the heroism of healthcare workers responding to disasters and the need for policies to support them. She stated: "There should be a policy with the inclusion of the lady health workers...to ensure they are protected from harassment and coercion."
Tifonie Powell-Williams of the Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA) emphasised the disproportionate climate impacts on small island states, including the Pacific region. She spotlighted the plight of overworked and undervalued public sector workers on the frontlines, and the need for educating and organising around climate justice. "The climate crisis intersects at all levels," she said, calling for climate justice that puts "people over profit."
Sean Sweeney of Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) stressed the urgent need to reclaim and decarbonize the energy sector through public ownership and democratic control. He stated: "We need the kind of response that is commensurate with the challenge we face."
Global climate specialist Anabella Rosemberg warned against powerful actors coopting climate justice language while resisting true system change. She affirmed that the labour movement must be at the heart of climate solutions, stating "this fight will never be won without working people."
In his closing remarks, David Boys emphasised the need to continue making political connections between climate issues and other key union focuses like tax, trade, migration, and gender equality. He stated that the weakening of democratic institutions at all levels has greatly contributed to the current climate crisis.
The panel made it clear: Tackling the climate emergency requires solidarity across borders, sectors, and movements. Unions are poised to lead the charge. Now is the time to educate, organise, and advocate for climate justice rooted in equity, care, and democracy. (publicservices.international)
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