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Young transport workers demand climate change action

12 Dec 2014
Young transport workers on people’s climate change march, Lima, Peru
Twelve young transport workers from nine Latin American countries added their voices to calls for action as world leaders gathered in Lima, Peru for the UN climate change talks, COP20 – a prelude to world climate talks in Paris next year.

They participated in the ITF climate change seminar for young workers in the Americas on 8-9 December and in several other international trade union activities in the city co-ordinated by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). They also joined the 15,000-strong people's climate march on 10 December.

Watch Edwin Labrador, FBTTT, reporting from the march (in Spanish).

At the seminar, speakers from ITF affiliates in Norway, Spain and the USA shared their unions’ experiences of taking action against climate change, such as the work of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), USA to engage with members, passengers and local communities; and the sustainable mobility activities of CCOO, Spain, which includes a practical guide for unions, research reports, education and campaign materials and developing proposals for government action.

Participants discussed climate change in their own countries, the challenges of behaviour change and the impact of mobility on access to employment and services. They debated how their unions could campaign with other organisations and government. Following the panel discussion, ITF Americas education coordinator Emiliano Addisi helped them to develop action plans in groups for their industrial sectors, workplace and community.

ATU vice president Bruce Hamilton said from Lima: “Increased public transportation worldwide is one of the best ways to fight climate change because it reduces carbon emissions while creating jobs. And a just transition to a clean economy will also better protect the world’s poorest communities — those most vulnerable to climate change.”  

Speaking at the end of the UN talks, Asbjørn Wahl, Municipal and General Employees Union, Norway, and chair of the ITF climate change working group, declared that COP 20 had failed to move forward on climate change policy and was neglecting the needs and demands of workers and trade unions. He added that it was time for the trade union movement to take some bold steps to lead the fight against climate change and that he welcomed the energy of young trade unionists, who were prepared to take action.

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