Labour and the Forces of Nature: Prospects, Paradoxes and Perspectives

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:30-10:20
RC44 Labor Movements (host committee)

Language: Spanish and English

Environmental degradation affects workers, communities, women, immigrants, indigenous peoples, farmers and industrial workers globally but in different ways. The global scope of environmental degradation and climate change has enabled unions to develop broad environmental policies, a process forcefully led by the International Trades Union Confederation. It has also enabled the creation of alliances between trades unions and environmental movements globally and locally in a number of countries of the global South and North. We have also seen alliances between unions, farmers and indigenous movements.

However, these policies and alliances are not uncontested, neither by environmentalists, indigenous groups nor within unions themselves. This session aims to discuss the different dimensions of trade unions policies, alliances and forms of cooperation:

How do environmental politics affect unions in the global north and the global south? What will be the impacts on capital and labour intensive sectors? What are the challenges concerning the preparation of workers for green transitions in terms of skills and agency? How does work need to change, and with it workers’ capabilities and positions at the workplace, in order to reconcile work and nature? How can unions contribute to making green transitions also just transitions in order to transcend conflicting interests?

What kind of coalitions across countries and social actors (i.e. industrial workers, farm workers, indigenous movements, communities, environmentalists, women, migrants) have been built? What have been the successes, problematics, conflicts of such coalitions? What can be learned from them?

We invite theoretical and empirical papers on these subjects.

Session Organizers:
Nora RATHZEL, Umeå University, Department of Sociology, Sweden, Dimitris STEVIS, Colorado State University, USA and David UZZELL, University of Surrey, United Kingdom
David UZZELL, University of Surrey, United Kingdom
Oral Presentations
Deciphering Union Environmental Politics: The ‘Greening’ of Energy Systems in the United States and Australia
Darryn SNELL, RMIT University, Australia; Dimitris STEVIS, Colorado State University, USA
More Than Business As Usual? the Socio-Ecological Activities of Austrian and German Trade Unions
Beate LITTIG, Institute for Advanced Studies Vienna, Austria; Thomas BARTH, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany
Distributed Papers
Blue-Green Alliances at the Level of Local Unions: Conditions for Successful Alliances
Akira SUZUKI, Ohara Institute for Social Research, Hosei University, Japan
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