91st STUC Women’s Conference Report – by UCU Scotland President Ann Gow

2018 Women's STUC Conference, Caird Hall Dundee.

2018 Women’s STUC Conference, Caird Hall Dundee. (Photo credit: STUC)

UCU Scotland had an impressive ten delegates at the 91st Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) Annual Women’s Conference in Dundee on 29/30 October, chaired by Sharon Edwards, PCS. Ann Gow, Janice Aitken, Dr Lena Wånggren, Dr Anna Notaro, Fiona O’May, Prof. Kate Sang, Dr Irene Reid, Dr Ebtihal Mahadeen, Anne Swinney and Sylvia Morgan met and debated with over 200 trade union members, campaign exhibitors, visitors and guests taking time to consider the priorities for campaigns in the year ahead.

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Women’s Votes; Women’s Voices and brought together delegates from a range of trade unions, trade union councils, workplaces and communities across Scotland  to contribute to debates on many different issues such as Economy and Employment, Increasing Women’s Representation and Participation,  Social Justice, Health and Combatting Violence Against Women.  UCU Scotland moved and seconded motions on Automation in the workplace, the USS Pension Dispute, Gender Based Violence in Higher Education & End Violence against Women and Girls.  We also brought an emergency motion on international staff at Edinburgh University. With such a strong delegation, we also spoke in debates on topics such as menopause matters at work and sexual harassment in the workplace. All our motions and amendments were passed by Conference, with strong support for tackling these issues.

2018 Women's STUC Conference, Caird Hall Dundee.

Ann Gow, University of Glasgow. (Photo credit: STUC)

2018 Women's STUC Conference, Caird Hall Dundee.

Dr Ebtihal Mahadeen, University of Edinburgh. (Photo credit: STUC)

Conference not only debated these crucial issues but we also had a variety of guest speakers, such as Mary Alexander from Fair Work Convention, Talat Yaqoob, Director, Equate Scotland, Louise Macdonald, CEO, Young Scot and Chair of the First Minister’s Advisory Council on Women and Girls (ACWC), and (of course!) Lynn Henderson, President, STUC.

We had a really great session “SHOW ME THE MONEY” this was facilitated by STUC Women’s Committee members, Annette Drylie and Davena Rankin. We worked in small groups focusing on the persistent gender pay gap in Scotland. As we discussed, the pay gap will only be smashed when those jobs that are regarded as “women’s work” are valued higher. This session looked at how “women’s work” is not only underpaid, but is totally undervalued and how women have paid the price of the bankers’ folly. This was a great chance to not only discuss the critical issues but to meet up with delegates from other trade unions. As was the Social in the evening – always a real delight to spend an evening in the company of such great women!

One highlight for myself included the Union into Schools project with contributions from school pupils on gender inequality. It was inspiring listening to the young people make powerful contributions and left us feeling more positive for future work.

This annual conference is a really positive experience and one that I’d encourage any UCU Scotland woman member to attend.

2018 Women's STUC Conference, Caird Hall Dundee.

Dr Irene Reid, University of Stirling. (Photo credit: STUC)

2018 Women's STUC Conference, Caird Hall Dundee.

Dr Lena Wånggren, University of Edinburgh. (Photo credit: STUC)

Scottish Government Brexit Summit, 22 November 2018

U of Glasgow Brexit summit Photo 22-11-2018, 11 49 20

Photo: University of Glasgow

UCU Scotland Official Mary Senior, addressed the Scottish Government’s Brexit Summit on Thursday 22 November 2018, outlining the concerns of UCU members:

Scotland’s Universities Must Remain Open, Welcoming and Inclusive Places

First, thank you to the Scottish Government, and our Minister Richard Lochhead for convening today’s event and inviting UCU to contribute.    Amid the confusion at Westminster it is heartening that we can work together as an education sector in Scotland to send a strong message that our colleges and universities are open to the world, and want to welcome EU and global citizens to live, study and work here.

UCU described the vote to leave the EU as a political earthquake.  It continues to be exactly that.  The uncertainty, chaos and crisis at the top of our political system, is becoming a living nightmare of worry and insecurity for EU citizens working in Scotland’s colleges and universities.

Education doesn’t observe national borders or geographic boundaries. Education is about breaking new ground, driving innovation, sharing ideas, and pushing knowledge boundaries.   That Scotland attracts students, lecturers, researchers, and others to come to live, work and study here is a great strength.  They contribute to making our sector world class, and our campuses the vibrant, diverse and multicultural centres of learning and knowledge exchange that they are today.

Isolation from our European partners has huge implications for our ability to continue to attract staff and students from right across the globe.  Our members in universities tell us that Brexit is already jeopardising research funding and halting partnerships with European institutions.  It is creating deep uncertainty for workers and students from Europe and further afield.

It is hardly surprising that UCU members last month voted overwhelmingly for a fresh referendum on whatever deal the UK government is securing.  Our members’ vote unquestionably reflects widespread concern about the impact of Brexit on education, the impact on the many thousands of EU staff who work in the sector in the UK, and its impact on society as a whole.

Since the 2016 referendum we’ve seen an increase in the “hostile environment” towards overseas workers and students.  The UK government has created an environment where EU nationals feel unwelcome and unwanted, only this week the Prime Minister described them as “queue jumping”.  This approach is doing nothing to challenge the rising tide of racism and hostility that migrant and BME communities have experienced since the Brexit vote across the UK – Scotland has not been immune.  This along with the alarming trend of anti-intellectualism that was unleashed with the referendum vote, is absolutely the antithesis of everything we do in our universities and colleges.

That’s why today’s summit and our joint statement is significant.

Today’s event is a helpful step forward for our sector in Scotland, and builds on work we’ve been doing now for a number of years.    Together with NUS and Universities Scotland, UCU has consistently argued for a Brexit which enables staff and students from the EU to continue to move freely to Scotland without visa restrictions, and to work and live in the UK without limits on their ability to access public services.

We’ve called for the return of the post-study work visa in Scotland to allow international graduates to stay here to work and contribute to our economy and society.

And we want to protect and create reciprocal arrangements for students and staff from Scotland to take up opportunities in Europe, to study, to research and to collaborate with their peers.

In the past week EU citizens working in universities across the UK have been able to apply for settled status as part of the Pilot EU Settlement Scheme.  While this scheme is far from perfect, it is understandable that EU staff are seeking security by registering.  UCU very much welcomes the steps taken by a number of universities including: Queen Margaret, Heriot Watt, Edinburgh and Glasgow, who have committed to paying the settlement fee for their EU staff.  Today we’re calling on all Scottish universities to do likewise and back up the warm words with this concrete action which demonstrates support for their EU colleagues.

Education is about breaking down barriers, tackling inequality, and empowering individuals and communities.   Education is not about being insular, or turning in on ourselves.   Scotland’s colleges and universities are open, welcoming and inclusive places, and today we are taking important steps to ensure that continues to be the case.

The joint statement agreed between the Scottish Government, UCU Scotland, Universities Scotland, NUS and others is here: Joint Statement

Facilitating fairness in post-Brexit Britain

The article below was published in the Scottish Left Review by Mary Senior, UCU Scotland Official, and member of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice

Properity-and-Justice

Established in the wake of the EU referendum, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Commission on Economic Justice is a landmark initiative to rethink economic policy for post-Brexit Britain. Commission members came from all walks of life, different political view points, and brought perspectives from across Britain. Its plan for the new economy was published in September 2018.

The conclusion that the economy in Britain is not working is hardly a surprise to unions. Representing workers at the sharp end – facing casual contracts, declining pay, bogus self-employment, and a growing gap between rich and poor – we see the casualties of our economy on a daily basis. The Commission demonstrated the state of economic injustice in Britain, with average earnings stagnating for more than a decade, even while economic growth has occurred. Nearly a million people in Britain are on zero hours contracts, young people are set to be poorer than their parents, and the nations and regions of Britain are diverging further.

The Commission is clear that we need a new deal, a fundamental reform of the economy, a change as significant as the Attlee government’s Keynesian reforms of the 1940s and the Thatcher government’s neo-liberal free market reforms. But this time we need change that builds fairness and equity into the economy. We’ve described it as ‘hard-wiring’ economic justice into the way the economy works to create a more equal economy that generates stronger growth, lower social costs and greater wellbeing.

There is no silver bullet to tackle the injustices and inequality in our economy for we need to address this in the structures of our economic system. This includes in the labour market and wage bargaining; in the ownership of capital and wealth; and in the governance of firms – giving workers a voice on boards, and restricting voting rights of temporary shareholders, so those wielding power are committed for the long term.

Building on Scotland’s Fair Work agenda, the Commission sets out a plan for good pay, good lives and a ‘good jobs standard’, where good work enables individuals and their families to contribute to society. We need a pay rise, and the National Living Wage should be raised to the level of the voluntary Living Wage, which meets the cost of a decent standard of living. To help increase wages more widely, the Commission proposes a doubling of collective bargaining coverage to 50% of workers by 2030, with a focus on the lowest paid sectors. Unions are key to making a difference, and we know that organised work places are healthier and safer, and have higher pay rates. The Commission proposes introducing union auto-enrolment in the gig economy, to help provide isolated workers the opportunity to organise together.

Everyone in work should be entitled to rights and protections, and the Commission calls for stronger employment rights for people in insecure work, and the extension of work-related benefits to the self-employed. The law on employment status and rights must be clarified and backed up by properly funded, proactive enforcement to crack down on employers who are flouting their legal responsibilities.

To shine a light on inequality in the workplace, the Commission calls for greater transparency on pay, and all firms with more than 250 employees should be required to publish their pay scales. We’ve seen how gender pay gap reporting has drawn attention to women’s pay, but this should now go further to people of different ethnicities.

To rethink how we balance work and family and other aspects of our lives, the Commission calls for jobs to be advertised as flexible by default, for ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ parental leave to enable and encourage men to take part in raising children, and for more bank holidays so that economic growth is not just shared financially, but in the form of time for life outside work.

The Commission’s recommendations include a ‘managed automation’ strategy to support the adoption of new technologies, but also importantly to ensure that workers don’t lose out, share in the productivity gains, and are helped to retrain. There’s also a call to rethink the immigration system to promote human dignity, prosperity and justice, and to give Scotland and the other devolved nations more control over our immigration rules. This will allow us to tailor immigration rules to suit Scotland’s economic needs, where we benefit from overseas labour in industry and our public services – including the NHS and universities.

We can’t just muddle on hoping for the best. The Commission is very clear that as we confront the challenges of globalisation, technological, democratic and environmental change, on top of Brexit uncertainty, doing nothing will not keep things the same – it will only make it worse. Fundamental reform can be achieved, and the Commission’s proposals would place more power with workers, provide Scotland and all regions of Britain with more economic levers for change, widen opportunity and ensure we all benefit more fairly from economic growth and prosperity.

22nd STUC Black Workers’ Conference Report – Dr Talat Ahmed

Talat Ahmed at STUC BW Conference Oct 2018

The 22nd STUC Black Workers’ conference took place in Glasgow 5-7 October 2018. UCU was represented by two delegates, Dr Talat Ahmed (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Olufemi Ilesanmi (Robert Gordon University).

The headline for the conference was ‘Still We Rise: Black Trade Unions for the Future’ and discussions throughout the weekend reflected the sense of urgency that the current climate of rising racism, populist far right politics and openings to fascist type parties across Europe and the US pose to anti-racists. The challenges ahead were clearly palpable in motions on the threat posed by the Alt-Right, politicians such as Hungarian Prime minister, Viktor Orban and neo-Nazi parties like Jobbik, the Alternative für Deutschland, AFD in Germany, rising Islamophobia and of course the horrific scandal of Windrush – all continuing evidence of the politics of scapegoating, and pushing a xenophobic agenda. Delegate after delegate spoke eloquently of personal experiences and of stories that blight the lives of black and ethnic minority communities.

The specific role of trade unions in the fight to combat racism was highlighted in the STUC Black History Month Lecture given by Dr Talat Ahmed, Lecturer in South Asian History and Convenor of Stand up to Racism Scotland, on the subject of ‘A history of the St Andrew’s Day march and its role in the fight against racism in Scotland’. Emphasising the role of conscious political effort by trade unionists in the STUC working together with the local black community in Glasgow in 1988 to confront attempts by the BNP to take over St Andrews Day, the speaker emphasised the need to be ever vigilant and the imperative of unity in the anti-racist movement. The theme of unity of purpose chimed throughout the proceedings in discussions that reinforced the commitment of all trade union delegations to the work of Stand Up To Racism, Unite Against Fascism, and Show Racism the Red Card. The importance of the St Andrews Day Anti-Racism March, on Saturday 24 November 2018 and the Stand up to Racism march on 16 March 2019 resonated with delegates as both Lynn Henderson, STUC President and Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary spoke of the urgent need for trade unions to continue and re-double their efforts to work with the broad anti-racist movement.

Workshops on education, organising and skills and development were opportunities for delegates to talk concretely about practice and ideas for future work and proved productive. The stark reality of racist violence was brought home by Aamer Anwar, Human Rights Lawyer, and Rector of the University of Glasgow, who addressed conference at the end to explain the tragedy of the Sheku Bayoh family campaign, still seeking answers and justice for Sheku, three years after his death in police custody. A highly emotional end to the conference but a fitting one, as delegates called for justice for victims of racism and reinforced their commitment to unity is strength.

Forward to STUC St Andrews Day Anti-Racism March 24 November 2018 and Stand up To Racism March 16 March 2019!

UCU Equality Issues

Message from UCU Scotland Equality Officer Marion Hersh

Equality and Human Rights and Anti-Casualisation Networks

We often say that equality and casualisation are at the heart of UCU.  We are making progress in advancing equality, ending discrimination and disadvantage based on equality characteristics, eliminating casualisation, and providing secure fractional or full time jobs for all staff currently on casualised contracts.  However, there is still a lot more work to do.

UCU Scotland (UCUS) used to have networks on Equality, Human Rights and Anti-Casualisation.  Networking can be very useful to learn about successful initiatives and good practice elsewhere which you can campaign for in your own institution.  It can also be helpful in ending isolation by linking members with those in similar circumstances and making members realise that the problems they are experiencing are due to institutional discrimination and bad practice, not something they have done wrong.

A motion at UCUS Congress called on the UCUS Executive to re-activate these networks.  As UCUS Equality Officer I have agreed to take responsibility for this and am initiating the process by writing this post and contacting branch officers, as well as members I think might be interested.  These networks belong to all UCUS members.   I am therefore calling on members to contact me through the UCUS office with their ideas for the networks – how they should be organised, campaigning activities, enthusiasm, and volunteering to take part.  I would like to see both some face to face meetings and some electronic discussion – possibly a list members opt into to be more deeply involved – with information about meetings and events going to all members.

Black History Month

It is currently Black History Month.  It would be good to hear what branches are doing, as well as other activities in Scotland.  This will give other branches ideas for next year, as well as for a late celebration.

Disability History Month – Day of Action for Equality in Education for Disabled People

Disability History Month Day of Action for Equality in Education for Disabled People is on 21 November – get in touch with your ideas for what UCUS and branches can do.  Let me know what you are doing in your branch, so it can be publicised and to give ideas to other branches.

UCU Equality Conferences

UCU equality conferences are taking place in Manchester 29 November – 1 December. There are separate sessions for Black, disabled, LGBT+ and women members, as well as a joint plenary, so you do not need to commit to all three days.  The link for registration is https://www.ucu.org.uk/membersannualgroupsconference and the deadline is Friday 26 October.  It would be good to have a good number of members from Scotland attending. And please do also send in brief reports of any recent equality events or details of any events coming up.

Marion Hersh

UCU Scotland Equality Officer

marion.hersh@glasgow.ac.uk

 

Report of the 15th European Work Hazard Network Conference on ‘The Future of Work in a Digital Era’, Copenhagen 20-22 September 2018

Between 20 and 22 September 2018 UCU member and Dundee UCU branch secretary Ian Ellis attended the European Work Harzard Network conference on behalf of the union.  The conference was themed ‘The Future of Work in a Digital Era’.  The text below is Ian’s diary and report of the conference.

Wednesday 19th September: Setting off in Storm Ali may not have been the safest of starts to my journey-especially when I was going to a works hazard conference.  I had arrived at Dundee train station to be told all trains south of Dundee were cancelled due to the storm. In order to make the flight I decided to drive to Edinburgh. Risk assessment done (at least in my head) I drove to the airport and arrived at the airport in good time especially as the flight was delayed and then again. Leaving around 4 hours late I arrived in Copenhagen at 2AM. After checking into the hotel it was off to bed.

Thursday 20th September: The day started late due to not getting in on time. Luckily registration started at 2pm and the first meeting was 4pm. After a brunch sitting beside one of the major squares in central Copenhagen I wandered around the streets taking in the sights. What impressed me most was the number of bikes and the distinct lack of cars. The conference took place in between the AAA (Metal Workers Union) HQ and PROSA (the IT workers Union) HQ. The registration introduced me to some of the finest hosts you could wish to meet. They made all of us feel very welcome. The ability of everyone to speak fluent English was great. I caught up with Scott Donohoe and Ian Tasker from Scottish Hazards over coffee and was introduced to the Greater Manchester Hazards team and the legend that is Hilda Palmer.

The conference started with a number of speeches including from Janne Hansen (the President of the Danish Metal Workers Union), Thora Brendstrup (Chair of EWHN) and Laurent Vogel (ETUI lead from Brussels). The following day was to be split into workplace visits including: the main hospital in Copenhagen, the docks, the Royal Danish Theatre and the hotel sector. In order to set the agenda for our visits we split into the groups we had volunteered for during pre-registration. I had joined up to visit the hospital and we had a diverse group of trade unionist, safety inspectors and members of hazard networks. We came from all over Europe- including Denmark, Germany, Austria, England and Scotland. We were to meet two very different members of staff- the head of radiology to listen to her thoughts on work related cancers and then the head of the porter’s union to hear about the stress and work patterns of this group of staff. After a discussion and getting to know each other it was off to tea in the metal workers union café for further talks and discussion with others from across Europe.

Friday 21st September: An early start (8.30AM meet up) helped by large doses of coffee and off by bus to the Rigshospital, Copenhagen University Hospital. The hospital was so large it has an underground “train” to take patients, laundry, beds across the area. The first presentation was by Prof Ilse Vejborg the head of radiology at the hospital. Her talk ranged on breast screening programmes in Denmark and how work breast cancer is treated in the Copenhagen area. Her thoughts on the strain of resources were similar to ours in the NHS. Trying to meet targets with less staff and ageing machines. A full discussion on how the breast cancer compensation scheme worked in Denmark was incredibly eye opening. Next followed a visit to the radiology department to see it working flat out. The work conditions of the staff were difficult to say the least. The break area was so small only around 5 people could fit at once- with a staff of hundreds that made it compact. The radiographers analysed results in the corridor which had all sorts of implications for data protection. Following lunch we met up with the Head of the Porters union and the highlight of the trip- the helicopter landing pad on the roof of the hospital. This gave incredible views across the whole of Copenhagen. It also made us aware of the issues of working at heights in high winds when a helicopter is coming into land with a trauma patient on board. Discussion with him took place around work-place hazards his membership faces. This is mainly work related stress, trips slips and falls and lifting issues.

Pics: Rigshospital, Copenhagen University Hospital old building and the helicopter landing pad on the roof

We returned to the centre of Copenhagen to the IT workers HQ. The late afternoon session was split into a choice of 2 workshops each lasting an hour. The first 4 were on the rights of safety reps in Denmark, toxic gases in containers, registry of foreign providers in Denmark and the EWHN stress network. The stress network workshop was run by Ian Draper (Hazards, UK) and provided an insight into work related stress in the UK education sector. This free standing network provided information about the causes, effects, symptoms and costs of work-related stress and mental health issues. Further information can be found at the link here.

Ellis 5

Discussion followed about how do we as trade union reps actually deal with this. One of the best points raised was what do our unions do for the reps in terms of mitigating the stress of being a rep! No one was sure and the lead for Health and Safety for the GMB took this away as her action point from the meeting. During a conversation with Joan McNulty from Unison (and a member of Hazards) she sent a link to a discussion at the UK Hazards conference in July (see the further information links at the end).

The second set of workshops were also wide-ranging: a discussion of interactive work in the service sector, work-life balance and the connection between domestic life and work in the digital era, and the final one on Brexit: for better or worse for health and safety.

Choosing the work-life balance workshop facilitated by Kathy Jenkins of Scottish Hazards I was inspired by the forum we created. How do we switch off from the pressure of work when we are reachable 24 hours a day? We discussed how during the UCU Pension dispute I had got my life back and now do not open emails outside of being in the office. We had a rep from Better than Zero who now has a fixed hours contract because of not answering email/texts when he was not at work. The GMB rep also suggested that moving to a 4 day week by the end of the decade (rather than the century) was a suggestion she would be taking back to her union. This time deciding how we dealt with work related issues and how they affected our own health was empowering.

The evening was spent at the conference dinner in the metal workers house. A very rewarding evening of talk and a Hendrix tribute band- the vice president of the metal workers Union on guitar.

Saturday 22nd: An early start fueled by coffee and Danish pastries back at PROSA. I had volunteered to join a group on what we know about work related cancers. It was a very busy discussion in which the UK appears to be blocking most of the legislation going through the EU parliament in a final act of pre-Brexit defiance. We discussed how the day before we had talked about shift work and breast cancer and whether or not there was a link. I was lucky enough to be able to share some of the work I am doing on stress and oral cancer.

My main take from the morning was that the trade union movement has a wary understanding of science and how evidence is collected and reported. Perhaps that is one thing as a scientist I have to be able to sell better. My view is that science needs to be used to best evidence our concerns to make employers and governments shift their agenda from profit to people. Surprisingly four hours later we were still discussing our ideas and formulating how best to take this area forward.

Then it was over and the race back to Copenhagen airport and the flight to a much less windy Edinburgh.

It was an honour to be at the conference and an honour to represent UCU at the event.

The conference agreed a final statement as follows:

In Copenhagen 60 working environment professionals and trade unionists were gathered at the 15th European Work Hazards Conference 20th–22nd September 2018. They discussed the future of work in the digital era. Both governments and trade unions are challenged by this new reality. The digital revolution leads to a lack of control from national government of goods and services. It means that basic worker rights are neglected – Working poor, part-time workers, migrant workers etc are issues, which have become life conditions for many people. Poverty will grow and increase in the background of this present development. We must demand that EU confronts “Better regulation” and instead accepts a social protocol to secure the basic rights for workers – also in the digital era.

Further information:

General help for Health and Safety reps:

http://dev.hazardscampaign.org.uk/

Stress awareness:

http://www.workstress.net/help-and-info/news

Help for Reps:

http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Workshop-4-Supporting-Health-and-Safety-Reps.pdf

 

 

UCU Scotland seminar on a Just Transition to a low carbon economy

UCU Scotland’s vice-president Eurig Scandrett reports on the union’s seminar examining a Just Transition to a low carbon economy.  The seminar was held at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University on 4th September and chaired by Lesley McIntosh of RGU UCU.

The idea of Just Transition originates in the trade union movement in the USA and means that workers in our current, unsustainable, fossil fuel based economy must have good, unionised jobs and livelihoods in the sustainable economy that society will, inevitably, have to transition to. Trade unions must be involved at the forefront of planning for a just transition. Whilst workers employed in the oil and gas industry will be the most directly affected by this transition, the change required will potentially affect all workers, including university employees. As PCS’s impressive pamphlet on Just Transition and Energy Democracy puts it “every sector of the economy will be affected by the energy transition – energy, manufacturing, heavy industries like steel, transport, construction, health, education and so on. All these sectors have high levels of union membership therefore every union has a stake in the transition”.

In case we needed a reminder of Higher Education’s links to fossil fuel, UCU’s seminar took place in the Sir Ian Wood Building, named after founder and former CEO of the Wood Group oil and gas company, Chancellor of, and donor to, RGU. The entrance to the building was decorated with the logos of Shell, BP and Marathon Oil sponsoring events at the university. In a financial context of increasing dependence on private funding for research and educational projects, the oil and gas industry plays a significant role in many universities. UCU needs to look at what a Just Transition means for its members, and we have been an active member of the Scottish Just Transition Partnership since its formation in 2016.

The seminar was started by Mary Church from Friends of the Earth Scotland, who outlined the policy context for Just Transition. The Paris declaration of 2016, negotiated within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, commits signatory countries to actions to limit global temperature increase to “well below 2oC above pre-industrial levels, and to aim for the relatively safer 1.5oC. Mary reminded us that, even at 1oC, where we currently stand, significant disruptions to the climate are already occurring and there are risks of uncontrollable feedback reactions. As a result of ITUC lobbying, the Paris agreement also makes reference to the Just Transition in achieving these targets. The Scottish Government has set ambitious targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions and Labour in opposition has pledged to be even more ambitious. Moreover, the 2017 Programme for Government committed to a Just Transition Commission, a key demand of the JT Partnership, as well as a Scottish National Investment Bank and a publicly owned Energy Company, possible mechanisms for delivering.

The second speaker was Adam Price, UCU’s environment rep at Aberdeen University. He gave an outline of the kind of activities which the university has been promoting towards energy reductions and promoting sustainability in the curriculum. There are many opportunities for branch reps to engage in work for sustainability, including for a just transition, in their own institutions. Then Leslie Mabon of RGU outlined his research into the potential for transition in Aberdeen and the North East. He emphasised that the oil industry is not homogenous and encompasses a wide range of jobs and skills, not all of which are well paid. By contrast, decisions about the future of the industry are being made by a small number of wealthy white men at the top. We need more clarity on the range of skills in the workforce and their potential for transition to a sustainable economy, and to involve these workers in the decisions that affect them.

Tommy Campbell is an official with Unite, representing many workers in the offshore oil and gas industry. He emphasised that the transition will require investment in renewables, building homes to higher standards, insulation and energy efficiency and a sustainable public transport system. The market is failing to deliver this and the government must play a central role, including the re-nationalisation of energy. The Scottish Investment Bank is a vehicle through which public investment in the transition can be driven. Trade union environment reps can play their part in the workplace and these should be afforded the time off and facilities required to do their jobs.

For the JT Partnership, there is an opportunity. Despite the fact that the meaning of just transition is being watered down and the trade union movement left out, we have the promise of a Commission, a commitment from both SNP and Labour, and unions are ready to be involved. Just transition has the potential to be a key part of the Scottish government’s industrial strategy.