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Date: 31 March 2010

UNISON’s green workplace project wins Climate Challenge funding

Public service workers in Lanarkshire today won more than £60,000 for a trade union climate change project.

UNISON Scotland congratulated branch members in South Lanarkshire on their successful Climate Challenge Fund bid. The ideas they come up with for greening the workplace could lead the way for similar union work across the public sector.

UNISON South Lanarkshire Branch Secretary Stephen Smellie said:
“We are very pleased to have been awarded funding for our Green Workers project which will help contribute to Scottish climate change targets.

“The aim is to raise awareness of the carbon footprints of our members, give advice on how to reduce emissions and empower members to raise ideas on how to make a difference not only at home but in their workplace.”

The project will work with UNISON members across South Lanarkshire Council, South Lanarkshire College, South Lanarkshire Leisure, Lanarkshire Joint Valuation Board and a number of voluntary and private sector employers.

It will focus on encouraging reduced emissions through energy efficiency and greener travel options. Members will be able to borrow energy monitors to check their energy use at home, and develop alternative public transport plans for each workplace. The UNISON branch will also audit its own activity to reduce carbon use – eg in communicating with activists and members.

UNISON Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said:
“This project will demonstrate the contribution trade unions can make to tackling climate change in the workplace by engaging with our members on the issue.

“By doing so members will not only start to reduce their own emissions but will be more likely to demand action in the workplace.

“More than two thirds of carbon emissions are work related and UNISON is encouraging similar action across Scotland.

“Most workplace projects on cutting carbon are led by employers. A bottom up project, promoted by the trade union, stands a much better chance of winning workforce support and making the real changes needed.

“As part of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, UNISON campaigned for the Climate Change Act 2009 to be as strong as possible with a clear duty on the public sector, ensuring it leads by example.

“All public bodies need to comply with that duty from January next year. We are calling for negotiated green workplace agreements to help them do that.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors:

1) The Scottish Government Climate Challenge Fund awarded £60,728 to this project, part of a £5.5m announcement. Details are at www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2010/03/31101337

2) UNISON has a Greening the Workplace toolkit for branches at www.unison.org.uk/green/pages_view.asp?did=7384

3) The STUC Scottish Government joint Communique on Climate Change is at www.stuc.org.uk/news/643/stuc-and-scottish-government-issue-joint-communique-on-climate-change
It promises partnership working to develop policies to green the workplace and states that: “The greening of the workplace has a central role to play in delivering emissions cuts and promoting environmental action throughout society. Worker involvement is the key to culture change in the workplace. Good practice developed in the workplace will also have a positive influence in the home and community.”

For Further Information Please Contact:
Stephen Smellie, UNISON South Lanarkshire branch Secretary 07740 096 864 (m)
Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser, 07958 122 409 (m)
Chris Bartter, Communications Officer 07715 583 729 (m)

 

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