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Climate Strike - 20th Sepember 2019

This week, Unite Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner joined many other union leaders when he called on the trade union movement to back school climate change strikes on 20 September. He told the Trade Union Congress:

 

“Congress, how proud can we be of our children, knowing it’s their future at stake – taking to the streets … to demand the urgent action that is desperately needed.”

 

As many members will know, taking strike action (lawfully) requires a lengthy preparation time to overcome anti-union measures including paper ballots and minimum notice periods.

 

However, just because we cannot take strike action, this should not prevent us from taking part. On Friday the 20th September, trade union solidarity activity is planned in town and city centres across Britain.

 

 

To protect members, Unite has prepared a leaflet advising workers how to participate without putting themselves at risk of being sanctioned by their employers. The advice is reproduced below.

 

Reps can also approach management with a view to:

  • Discouraging meetings which cover lunchtime; and
  • Authorising any requests for a longer lunch break or change in working pattern for that day.

 

Climate Strike Brief

 

Youth climate strikers all over the world are calling on workers to stand in solidarity with them by joining them on the streets on September 20th.

 

The youth strikes show a radical consciousness within this generation and recognition of the power of collective action to bring change.

 

As it stands, the outlook for this generation is a bleak future. They, the next generation of workers, will face not only an increasingly insecure job market, zero hour contracts and falling living standards, but also the destructive impacts of the climate crisis. Whilst the anti-trade union laws are an explicit repression of the right to protest, the labour movement has the strength to bring about the radical changes that we need.

 

For those of us in employment that wish to support the Climate Strike, we are faced with a challenge. While some employers would be supportive of the action and may allow you to miss work, the reality is that most are likely to discipline you if you do not show up at work. That’s why we have prepared this brief so you know what your rights are.

 

Do's and Dont's

 

Unite is supportive of those involved in this campaign. Unite branches have passed on motions and demanded that their employers take action. However, due to the restrictive nature of industrial action legislation no collective action is currently being proposed by Unite. Please read below to know your rights

 

  • Everyone is entitled to join the protests in their own time e.g. unpaid lunch break, before or after work. However, please be mindful that your employer may take issue with this should they believe your behaviour brings them into disrepute.

 

  • If you decide not to turn up for work, this would represent a breach of contract and would leave you exposed to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

 

  • If you wish to join the action, you should book holiday, agree with your employer unpaid time off, or make some other arrangements where you will not be breaching your contract.

 

  • If you cannot take the day off, you may be able to use your lunch break to go along with co-workers to join the #ClimateStrike events. You could seek your employer’s agreement beforehand that you start your day earlier or later than usual. Please make sure that you agree this beforehand with your employer.

 

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