Online Reps Conference: Thursday 17 November 2022, via Zoom

COP27 – trade unions and the climate and economic crises

A TUC conference on bold solutions to the energy, climate, and economic crises 

This is the TUC’s online event during COP27, to discuss what trade unions can and should be doing to win a rapid and just transition to a safe climate future.

With speakers Shavanah Taj (General Secretary, Wales TUC), Camille Barbagallo (Climate Justice Coalition), Caitlin Lee (Unite Hospitality workers’ branch, TBC), and more TBC.

Both our economy and our planet are in crisis.  

Bills, temperatures, and sea levels are rising at an unprecedented rate. Nationally, the cost-of-living scandal is driving absolute poverty and forcing millions into increasingly desperate conditions. Globally, climate change is threatening the lives and livelihoods of billions of workers. These crises are parallel and interlinked. 

We urgently need politics that builds a safe climate for future generations, a rapid and just transition with quality jobs, and an economy that rewards work, not wealth. The TUC is convening a conference: two events, one in person and one online, that will coincide with COP 27 and bring trade unions and climate activists together to gather solutions. 

How do we combine our struggles for an equitable cost of living, workers’ rights, and a just transition to climate safety? 

Online Reps Conference: Thursday 17 November 2022, via Zoom

Register here:

Global Day of Action called by Egyptian groups at COP27

Information about the mobilisations on Saturday 12 November in solidarity with the Global Day of Action called by Egyptian groups at COP27.

Details of the Edinburgh march on 12 November are in the picture and here, with registration here. It starts at 12noon in St Andrew Square and goes around several themed ‘stations’ finishing at the Scottish Parliament, where the theme is End the Cost of Living Scandal, Just Transition now.

Further details of all marches across the UK are being added to this Climate Justice Coalition (the successor to last year’s COP26 Coalition) list on the UNISON UK website.

As General Secretary Christina McAnea said in the discussion at her recent Jimmy Reid lecture, action on climate is up there in the union’s overarching top three priorities, along of course with key work to improve pay, particularly tackling low pay and our equalities work. She said climate change is intrinsically linked to poverty, with those who have least here and worldwide most affected. And she emphasised that young people, when asked why they want to join a union, refer to climate change and housing as important to them.

We know everyone has been overloaded more with work on pay and ballots but would encourage branches to support the Edinburgh demo, or one nearer you if more are organised. A lot of trade unions have made efforts during pay disputes to link the cost of living and fuel bill crises with the climate crisis and climate campaigners have been supporting pay strikes. The Just Transition Partnership has a statement-making the links between the climate crisis and cost of living and industrial disputes – Living Wages on a Living Planet.  

Understandably there was more attention on the UN talks themselves when they were in Glasgow, but the fuel bills crisis and soaring profits of Shell and other oil companies, show that we are right to call for windfall taxes on those companies and a system focused on people, not profit. Report after report highlights the climate harm and dangers, including to health. And to infrastructure and life without sufficient adaptation planning. (Remember we have the excellent climate hazards workbook and handbook and other resources branches can use with employers.) Yet the new Prime Minister isn’t going to Egypt, even though the UK still has the presidency.

Yesterday’s UN environment agency report put the urgency in the strongest possible terms: Inger Anderson, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, said: “We had our chance to make incremental changes, but that time is over. Only a root-and-branch transformation of our economies and societies can save us from accelerating climate disaster.”

Our Depute Convener Stephen Smellie will be at COP27 as part of the ITUC delegation. He will send updates from there and you can find regular updates on events and info on this page on the UNISON Scotland website  Do please sign the petition in solidarity with Egypt’s prisoners of conscience

Anyone who would like to be kept in touch through our Green Network mailings can let me know at

TUs at COP27 climate conf – Sat 12 Nov Demos – Green UNISON

The COP27 UN Climate Conference takes place in Egypt next month and there will be mass climate justice mobilisations across the UK on Sat 12 Nov in solidarity with protests at the COP.

The African COP27 coalition, the UK Climate Justice Coalition (CJC – the org following on from the COP26 Coalition) and other climate justice organisations have come together and announced a Global Day of Action on 12 November.

Green UNISON activists across the UK are organising to support demonstrations being planned on Sat 12 Nov, including in Edinburgh and possibly some other cities in Scotland.

The 27th United Nations climate conference will be held from 7 to 18 November, with over 198 countries invited to take part. World leaders will make key decisions on how countries will commit to tackle the climate emergency.

Trade unions also take part as observers and use their collective voice to influence decisions, put forward demands for a just transition to a low-carbon economy and hold governments to account.

UNISON Scotland’s Depute Convener Stephen Smellie, a UNISON NEC member, will be on the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) delegation on behalf of UNISON.

As members here know, Stephen represented the union at COP26 last year in numerous ways including through the ITUC. He was also on the COP26 Coalition co-ordinating group that organised the mass demonstrations in Glasgow last November.

UNISON is holding one of only two TUC places within the ITUC delegation, and is working hard to promote public services as key models of green transition and to ensure that the voices of public service workers are heard in Egypt.

Our General Secretary Christina McAnea, speaking after this year’s UNISON Green Week at the end of September, as the world prepares for COP27, said:

“The devastating impacts of the climate emergency are being felt across every part of the globe, but they fall heaviest on the disadvantaged.

“We are determined to be part of the necessary change – trade unions have a vital role to ensure urgent policies and measures deliver a fair transition to a greener planet.”

See the UNISON UK website page urging branches and members to get involved in the run-up to COP27, including by signing up to the UK green network and to sign a petition in solidarity with Egypt’s prisoners of conscience.  There is a range of useful resources there, including a video of the annual Green UNISON webinar.

UNISON Scotland’s Green Network members were active during Green UNISON Week and have an online lunchtime meeting tomorrow, Thurs 13 Oct, to discuss green workplace action, including on climate hazards and adaptation and in bargaining work, as well as COP27 demos planning and the connections between the cost of living, industrial disputes and strikes and climate justice.

We have stood in solidarity for some time now with the youth climate strikes campaigners Fridays for Futures after Greta Thunberg inspired so many school pupils, students and young people worldwide with her weekly school climate strike. The next Scottish Fridays for Future Climate March is in Glasgow on Friday 28 Oct 11am, Kelvingrove Park.

You can find out more about our Green Network on the Facebook page and there are news updates, such as this one, on our Green Workplace page on this website. The UNISON report Getting to Net Zero in UK public services, launched at COP26, is there too.

Join the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice

UNISON is mobilising for the day of action, organised by the COP26 Coalition, on Saturday 6 November, when civil society and trade unions will assemble in cities and towns all over the UK.

Look out for UNISON and TUC regional information about the day. You can also find out where your nearest assembly point is at the COP26 Coalition website.

If you can’t join the Day of Action in person, then watch it live on YouTube from noon on the 6 November.

Join the COP26 Peoples Summit debates 

As world leaders meet to discuss our planet’s future, the COP26 Coalition will host The People’s Summit for Climate Justice, from 7-10 November. There will be daily debates, events and webinars – both in-person and online.

At the end of every day, there will also be a live stream commenting on what decisions were made at the COP26 conference.

You can sign up for virtual events here:

Be part of Green UNISON

  • Use hashtags #GreenUnison and #COP26 in Twitter and Facebook events, photographs and solidarity messages from your branch or as an individual;
  • Use UNISON’s Greening of Public services logo in your green work;
  • Join the Green UNISON network to keep up to date with UNISON Green news, events and resources to help with your branch green activities.

for all information see the UNISON Scotalnd Website

Green Survey

A ‘green’ survey organised by UNISON UK in conjunction with Leeds University is now online here:

The survey asks how climate change and moving towards a greener economy might affect workers and communities. Even if you are not sure about some of these topics researchers still want to hear from you to help make sure that all views are heard.

The survey has been designed by researchers at the University of Leeds and UNISON is participating to learn more about what members know about climate change and how they are being involved.  

It will take 15 minutes to fill in. Your details will be confidential and responses will be anonymous unless you want to be contacted again with further details of next steps in research. There is space at the end to leave contact details if you wish. 

Green UNISON Week, 18 – 26 September

#GreenWorkplace #JustTransition #DivestFromFossilFuels #COP26 #ClimateJustice

The week provides an opportunity to step up calls for urgent action on climate change, support youth climate strikers AND build towards a massive turnout of Scottish members at the Global Day of Action on Saturday 6 November during the United Nations COP 26 Climate Summit.

Thursday 16 September, 10am – 1pm.

Adaptation in the Workplace, free interactive workshop for all Scottish trade unionists.

Take this short survey on your experiences of how the Scottish climate affects your workplace.

Wednesday 22 September

ITUC Global Day of Action to climate and employment-proof work: take part in a global conversation about our future.

Thursday 23 September, 12.30pm

UNISON Green Week lunchtime webinar: register here to find out more about what members can do to green public services and organise to support the November 6th Cop26 Global day of Action for Climate Justice demonstrations and rallies in 10 cities across the UK.

Friday 24 September

Global youth climate strike: events planned across Scotland, including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.

Anti-trade union laws mean that UNISON branches cannot take strike action, but individuals can show their support in other ways, such as attending events in their own time or offering help with stewarding.

September and October

Take One Action Film Festival nurtures communal exploration of the stories, ideas and questions at the heart of positive social change.  Through film screenings, conversation and enquiry, the festival brings people together to inspire a fairer, more sustainable and more fulfilling world, in Scotland and beyond.

Saturday 6 November

COP26 Global Day of Action, Glasgow: Worldwide demonstrations demanding that the UN Climate talks at COP26 in Glasgow deliver climate justice.  UNISON members are encouraged to join thousands of protesters for the rally and march in Glasgow calling on world leaders to act now on the climate emergency.

Sunday 7 to Wednesday 10 November

People’s Summit for Climate Justice aims to bring together the climate justice movement to discuss, learn and strategise for system change.  Join in online from anywhere in the world, or in person in Glasgow.

UNISON is part of the COP26 Coalition.  To find out more about the COP Climate Summit in Glasgow and how branches and members can get involved, support climate justice and related activities, and take part, keep an eye on the Cop26 Coalition website for updates on details of Cop 26 Glasgow events from 31 October to 12 November.