Working for Climate Justice: trade unions in the front line against climate change

A ground-breaking conference is taking place, exploring ‘green bargaining’ strategies for trade unions in the context of climate crisis.

26 Oct 2023| News

Entitled, ‘Working for Climate Justice: trade unions in the front line against climate change’, the conference, being held at Toynbee Hall, London, on Friday 27th October, will bring together trade union organisers, to discuss how the demands of climate breakdown, greening the economy and ‘Just Transition’ can be balanced.

The Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) Centre for Climate Crime and Climate Justice is collaborating with the Institute of Employment Rights (IER) to organise the conference.

Industrial production systems have created climate change. Very often, employers and their organisations continue to delay and put obstacles in the way of taking the necessary action. The starting point an acknowledgement that the trade unions must develop a collective bargaining approach to climate change and environmental degradation; climate and that environmental issues cannot be understood as an ‘add-on’ to traditional bargaining agendas, but rather must be understood as fundamental to these aims.

The trade union movement has been generally slow to accept the need for a bargaining approach to the greening of the economy and the aim of the conference is to discuss how the British trade union movement can play a leading role in workplace struggles for climate justice. A collective response from trade unions will be decisive in taking the action necessary to mitigate climate change, and that response starts with having these cross-movement discussions, including how to ensure that any transition is just and places the trade unions and their members at the heart of change.

The conference is supported by UCU, BFAWU, PCS, the Barry Amiel & Norman Melburn Trust and by QMUL UCU branch. Speakers at the conference come from a range of backgrounds, with different experiences of this debate. They include:

Linda Clarke, University of Westminster, Zak Coleman, SOS-UK, Ben Crawford, London School of Economics, Rosemary Harris, Platform, Wolfgang Kuchler, Campaign Against Climate Change, Sam Mason, PCS, Chris McLachlan, QMUL, Jake Molloy, RMT, John Moloney, PCS, Georgia Montague-Nelson, Global Labour Institute, Janet Newsham, Hazards and TUCAN, Declan Owens, Greener Jobs Alliance, Marie Petersmann, London School of Economics, Chris Saltmarsh, Labour for a Green New Deal, Andrew Watterson, University of Stirling, David Whyte, QMUL , Sarah Wooley, BFAWU, Vicky Blake and Peter Wood, UCU, John Cooper, Unite and Sam Perry, TUC Yorks and Humber.

Director of the Institute of Employment Rights, Ben Sellers, said:

“I really welcome this initiative, which came about in collaboration with David Whyte of QMUL and Ben Crawford, then at the University of Liverpool, but soon widened out to incorporate a range of unions and campaigning groups, all concerned with the response to climate change. We see this as an urgent and vital discussion about the reality of the transition to a green economy – one that includes the difficult and complex arguments, rather than buries them.”

Details of the conference (and registration) can be found here:

Notes for editors: 1. For further information, contact David Whyte on or Ben Sellers at the IER on 07754482980 or email 2. QMUL’s Centre for Climate Crime and Climate Justice website can be found here: 3. The Institute of Employment Rights (IER) website can be found here: