Workers hit the streets for climate justice

(Photo: UNIA)

On September 30, around 60,000 people marched through Bern, Switzerland, to raise public awareness about climate change. According to the BWI-affiliated UNIA, which joined the protest, the most vulnerable ranks of workers endure a disproportionate share of the detrimental costs of climate change. According to the union, the gap between those who can afford and those who cannot access the existing benefits of the transition to a green economy is growing. On top of comprehensively dealing to the climate catastrophe, UNIA said that serious conversations on how to address existing and new inequalities, as well as the income distribution gap, should take place.

BWI, which supports UNIA’s demands for better jobs, wage hikes, lowering of retirement age and shorter work days, said that trade unions must take advantage of the opportunities opened by the transition to green technologies and renewable energies to improve working conditions and quality of work, and get better access to trainings for all workers. UNIA supported this, explaining that green jobs in renewable energies, such as replacing heating systems and installing solar panels, are hampered by a shortage of workers with the necessary skills to respond to new employment realities. 

BWI echoed UNIA’s call for a new collective agreement for all electricians and building technicians and expressed support for a planned action being organised by the Swiss union this Saturday. “What is good for the climate must also be good for workers’ employment. It is only by improving the conditions of the thousands of workers in the industry can we really talk of a just transition to a greener future where workers’ voices are heard and have a central role to play,” BWI said.