Moving Beyond Policies: Unions and Nature

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 13:10
Oral Presentation
Dinga SIKWEBU, Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education, South Africa
Woodrajh AROUN, NUMSA (retired), South Africa
Having led in the development of innovative policies on climate change, the definition of constitutive elements of just transitions and concrete plans to build a socially-owned renewable energy sector in South Africa; the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has been unable to move beyond the creative resolutions that the union adopted to link shopfloor issues with broader ecological questions. The inability to move beyond agreed policies to implementation fundamentally raises questions about the ability of labour movements and unions in energy intensive sectors to lead on their own thoroughgoing and just transitions. By looking at both endogenous and exogenous factors that led to a stalled implementation of agreed policies, the paper will look at sources of inertia that act as stumbling blocks to labour movements fulfilling their role as active participants in environmental justice movements. Through an examination of these challenges and impediments, the paper will identify strategies inside and outside of unions that potentially can allow organised labour to take practically and with conviction its place in broad red-green coalitions