Trade Unions, Climate Change and Global Unequal Power Relations

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Nora RATHZEL , Sociology, Umea University, Sweden
David UZZELL , School of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom
Especially since 2006 trade unions in the global north and the global south as well as international trade union federations and confederations have been developing strategies against climate change. There are many obstacles in the way of trade union strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation. One of the most decisive is the policy conflict between unions in the global north and the global south. While there are north-north and south-south differences, the conflicts between trade unions in the global north and the global south have their origins both in the unequal living conditions of workers and the unequal power relations between unions in the global south and the global north. Based on two research projects investigating trade unions’ environmental strategies in Brazil, South Africa, India, Sweden, and the UK, we discuss the different ways in which unions of the global north and south assess the causes and consequences of climate change and the relationship between labour and nature. While in both hemispheres the protection of jobs and the protection of nature need to go hand in hand, it is mainly in unions of the global south that Capital is seen as exploiting both the earth and the worker. This creates conflicts between northern and southern unions concerning the development of climate change strategies.