Unions join climate action at Newcastle camp

ON JULY 15, 150 people including Climate Camp participants, local Newcastle residents, and unionists, held a lively picket of NSW Treasurer and climate change denier Michael Costa, against electricity privatisation and for green jobs.

Deepening these alliances is crucial. The climate movement must connect with widespread concerns about workers’ rights, jobs, and rising electricity fees.

Police used “Cronulla riot powers” to lock-down the area, but protestors linked arms chanting: “Climate change can’t wait, we have the right to demonstrate!”

The AWU’s Paul Howse had dominated climate coverage with arguments that action on climate change will see mass sackings. In contrast the picket gave a platform to unions calling for real action on climate change and green jobs (the AMWU, PSA and CFMEU had flags and speakers at the rally).

Former coal miner Graham Brown argued that most coal miners would prefer to work in cleaner industries if they could be retrained, and maintain the wages and conditions generations of miners have struggled to win.

New Greens senator from WA, Scott Ludlam said, “The people of New South Wales have spent generations paying for their electricity infrastructure and services. They should not have it sold from under them. Instead they deserve for it to be converted to deliver long-term renewable and clean energy. We have the technology and know-how to do it. They say it can’t be done, but the people who say it can’t be done should get out of the way of the people who are doing it.”

By Jean Parker


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