Trade union reactions at the European level
On the 21st of April 2021, the European Parliament and the European Council reached a provisional agreement on the EU climate law making the EU target of reaching climate neutrality by 2050 irreversible and legally binding (at EU level). The agreement confirms a collective net greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, after removals, of at least 55 percent by 2030 (on 1990 levels).
Like at many EU compromises, here we also see some play with the numbers: the agreed net 55% is supposed to be 52.8% when de facto cuts without carbon sinks are meant. But by re-interpreting what net `55%` means through revising Land-use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) regulation to expand the EU’s total carbon sink to 300 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2030, total effective emissions reductions may reach 57%. Given Europe`s shrinking forest area this is a very optimistic expectation.
An important element of the compromise was that negotiators agreed to introduce a limit (of 225 Mt of CO2 equivalent) to the contribution of carbon removals to the net target. This limit aims to maximise the effective emission cuts of member states.
At a joint Eurofer - IndustriAll event the organisers stated that:
“The EU’s 2050 net-zero target is also an economic and social challenge. Investment in new technologies will be high, roll-out will be expensive and disruptive – and those changes will affect companies from top to bottom, with new skills and tests for all employees and workers.”
IndustriAll’s general secretary, Luc Triangle commented: “Trade Unions support the ambition to make Europe a climate neutral continent by 2050, but it will not be possible without securing a Just Transition for all. This is especially true for sectors that are the backbone of the EU industry, such as automotive, aerospace, shipbuilding and rail supply or for energy-intensive industries.”
The main criticism of the ETUC on the legislative proposal for Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) was that there are no formal consultation rights defined for trade unions and worker representatives in the sustainability reporting process.
Related to the Commission`s April Sustainable Finance package IndustriAll executive committee has adopted a position demanding mandatory due diligence, making sure that in corporate governance a stakeholder-oriented approach prevails, and that corporate reporting becomes mandatory.
Trade union reactions at the national level
The massive transformation plan by the French electricity multinational EDF, `Plan Hercule` has met sharp criticism by all French unions with wide-scale protests and actions. The radical restructuring plan announced by the management foresees the splitting up of EDF into blue (nuclear) azure (hydro) and green (renewables + services) units partly with an eye to develop renewables as a separate entity and restructure its nuclear arm that has a lot of legacy issues.
All French unions fiercely oppose the plan, talking about the spectre of privatization, lack of consultation and the insecure future of the employees. The reorganisation program is further complicated by legal issues about the redistribution of the accumulated debt and the future of long-term electricity contracts by the nuclear energy unit that was set below the market price. The EU Commission also needs to approve the deal due to state aid issues.
IndustriAll demands the suspension of the `dismantling of EDF with stopping any project that could jeopardise essential industrial capacities of the EDF group, full involvement of trade unions in shaping the future of EDF and a `sustainable future for the group that meets the demands of EDF workers`.
EPSU and IndustriAll expressed their solidarity with EDF workers in a joint video message.
In contrast to the conflictual EDF case ENI, the Italian energy conglomerate has signed an agreement with the Italian unions Filctem Cgil, Femca Cisl and Uiltec Uil to face the energy transition ahead together. IndustriAll global union welcomed that the agreed protocol will serve as a framework for discussions on the effects on human resources of ENI’s new business structure, as the company prepares to significantly reduce its carbon footprint in the next 30 years. IndustriAll also stated that the agreement serves as a good example for communication and negotiation between the social partners during the change process to enable a just transition for workers.
Photo credits photo beto
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