Steelworkers applaud Climate Day of Action
September 27, 2019
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Today, students, First Nations, unions, workers and allies will be mobilizing across Canada in the tens of thousands with a global day of action to coincide with the UN climate summit.
“The United Steelworkers (USW) stands in solidarity with the youth of the world, Indigenous peoples as well as many in the global south, who are facing the complete destruction of their environment as a result of climate change,” said Ken Neumann, USW national director. “The United Steelworkers has long recognized the urgent threat posed by climate change. We stand with the youth of the world who are taking to the streets to urge our leaders to commit to fighting climate change.”
The USW is a founding partner of Blue Green Canada, and has advocated for many years that “we cannot be forced to choose between good jobs and a sustainable environment – we will either have both or we will have neither.”
“Our union believes that we cannot address climate change in isolation from other issues facing our economy. Wealth and corporate profits have increase dramatically, but wages have stagnated in Canada for decades, leading to greater economic inequality,” states Neumann. “Canadian workers are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet, with nearly half of Canadians living within $200 of not being able to pay their bills, while the top 20 per cent of income earners own more than two-thirds of all wealth.”
Any plan to address climate change must also address economic inequality, or else climate change will continue to become a more and more divisive issue among Canadians, he adds.
As a union with many members whose jobs are directly or indirectly tied to fossil fuels and energy intensive industries, members are urging governments to come up with a “real and ambitious plan to transition to a low-carbon economy” that will meet the climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement.
“Our members know better than most that the only way to achieve a successful and lasting transition to environmental sustainability is to ensure that workers are part of the local, industry-wide and national plans,” said Neumann.