Workers worried about climate change — and jobs: union poll

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Workers worried about climate change — and jobs: union poll

Workers in the coal, aluminium and steel industries strongly support action on climate change, but they are also worried about their jobs, a union poll has found.

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Workers in the coal, aluminium and steel industries strongly support action on climate change, but they are also worried about their jobs, a union poll has found.

The AMWU poll of 400 workers and AMWU members in the Bowen Basin, Gippsland, Newcastle and the Hunter region last week found they support reducing greenhouse emissions providing the government invests in new jobs.

The poll found the biggest concern for members (93%) regarding climate change was its potential impact on the kind of world their children will inherit, with 91% concerned regarding the impact on the natural environment, and 65% concerned in relation to the impact on their job.

Just over one-half (53%) would prefer to be working in an industry that does not contribute to climate change.

Government investment in renewables

The poll found 92% agree or strongly agree that with the right government investment in renewable manufacturing, Australia can create jobs and tackle climate change at the same time.

Around two-thirds (63%) agree or strongly agree that the Federal Government should be taking action on climate change even if it means higher energy prices for business and households.

While there was support for exempting energy intensive industries from emissions trading (62%), there was stronger support (88%) for including those industries in emissions trading as long as the Federal Government invests in new manufacturing development in communities that rely on those industries.

AMWU national secretary Dave Oliver will release a new position paper outlining the threats and opportunities for manufacturing workers in tackling climate change at the union’s national conference in Newcastle next week.

Oliver said that the Federal Government’s final greenhouse pollution reduction scheme must include significant investment in communities that will be most affected.

Greater risk in not acting

‘Not acting on climate change is a greater risk to Australian jobs than any action we take will be,’ he said.

‘But as we tackle climate change we must ensure workers and communities that rely on carbon intensive industries are supported.'

‘The Climate Change fund to be created with revenue from emissions trading should be used to develop new sustainable manufacturing projects in those communities which will suffer the most from reducing our greenhouse pollution.’

Price on pollution

Oliver said emissions trading will put a price on greenhouse pollution, but Government intervention is crucial if Australia is to avoid mass job losses such as occurred following tariff reductions and free trade agreements in the past.

‘That means actually having a national plan for Australian manufacturing, including investing in research and development for renewables and sustainable housing, and ensuring future trade agreements do not disadvantage Australian workers,’ he said.


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