Labour conference must ensure any Green New Deal has trade unions and public ownership of energy at its heart, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said.
In a rallying call behind a socialist Green New Deal, Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, will say:
- A target of net-zero carbon emissions is “meaningless” without public ownership of the UK’s entire energy network, including the Big Six energy companies
- Anti-union laws ban strikes for “political” purposes - unions need to work to build the workers’ movement so they can fully participate in the Global Climate Strike.
- Jobs and workers are in no way in contention with a socialist Green New Deal, as energy workers will be democratically engaged through their unions
Writing for LabourList, Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:
“A socialist Green New Deal must, at its heart, be about shifting power from those at the top to the majority. It’s about democratising our society, our economy and our world. That is a big aim – but, in the face of a global and growing crisis, that’s what is needed.”
“As conference delegates consider exactly what Labour’s radical plan for the environment looks like, we all need to think big. Let’s not shy away from that.”
As the union representing the firefighters tackling the sharp-end of the climate breakdown, the FBU has been a long-time advocate of radical environmental action, authoring the influential It's time to take over the big energy firms pamphlet in 2014.
Addressing the Global Climate Strike, Matt Wrack continues:
“For my union, the Fire Brigades Union, climate change is and has always been a workplace issue. Firefighters were on the frontline this summer, as wildfires tore across swathes of moorland and forests, as flooding destroyed homes and businesses and, in the case of the Whaley Bridge dam collapse, threatened an entire town.
“The strike call should alert the trade union movement to the urgency of the climate crisis. We need to build to a point where workers are willing and confident to take such direct action.”
The FBU holds a seat on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC). The union was an affiliate to the Labour party from the 1920s until 2004 when a bitter pay dispute with the then Blair government led the union to disaffiliate. It re-affiliated in 2015 after the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader.
Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell co-founded the union’s parliamentary group. McDonnell, who has chaired the group, has been a staunch supporter of the FBU’s many campaigns and a regular speaker at its conference.