Slovenia and Austria hit by catastrophic floods

(Photo: A flooded area in Ravne na Koroskem, northeast of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Gregor Ravnja/ AP)

The Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI), one of the global unions actively campaigning for a just transition to a greener, more worker-friendly, and more sustainable future, urged all of its affiliates, partners, and allies to mobilise support and organise solidarity initiatives to help the working people of Slovenia and Austria who have been affected by massive floods as a result of inclement weather. According to various reports, Slovenia was recently swamped by severe rains and heavy floods, which reportedly killed at least six people and caused huge damage worth half a billion of dollars. Rivers swelled and poured into fields and towns as a result of the extreme weather conditions, destroying essential infrastructure such as roads. The Slovenian government described the catastrophic weather event that began last week as the "worst natural disaster to ever hit" Slovenia. 

Similarly, neighboring Austria was overwhelmed by severe weather and flooding, causing huge damage to property and ultimately killing at least one person. Since Friday, the country's southern regions of Carinthia and Styria have been significantly impacted by torrential rains, mudslides, and swelling rivers, forcing many rural residents to flee. Parts of Croatia and Serbia were also reportedly affected. These extreme weather events happened in the midst of record-breaking heatwaves spreading across Europe, the United States, and many other regions of the world, as well as torrential monsoon rains and flooding in different parts of Asia. Many experts and advocates point to these extreme weather occurrences as the most recent manifestations of climate change. They said that unless countries radically reduce their carbon emissions, the global climate crisis might become irreversible.

“We express our utmost solidarity to all the trade unionists and workers who were affected by the extreme weather events and heavy flooding in Slovenia, Austria and other parts in the region. Climate change is real. Unless we radically change our development paradigms and how our industries work for the strategic benefit of the environment and workers of the world, the global climate crisis will change our world in horrific ways that will destroy our workplaces and communities, and make our lives extremely challenging to sustain. Trade unions must lead the struggle to build a better world where our environment can truly thrive and workers enjoy decent jobs,” BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson said.

BWI said that in the run-up to this year's Climate Talks (COP 28) in Dubai, it recently launched its "Heat Up Workers' Rights, Not the Planet" campaign to demand governments and employers to provide workers with more health and safety protections against workplace heat stress and other extreme weather events.