Branch Secretary :

Green Unionism

Over half of carbon emissions are work-related so unions such as Unite have a vital role to play in putting pressure on bosses to reduce workplace emissions. Here, the Housing Workers Branch Environmental Officer, Roderick Cobley, explains why were are now encouraging the election of workplace 'green' reps.


Why Do We Need Green Reps?


Collective action in the workplace can lead to changes in policy and structures as well as individual behaviour and so is more effective in cutting carbon than actions taken by individuals to ‘green’ their lifestyle.


Union environmental or green reps play a key role in raising awareness among members and ensuring that environmental issues are included in the bargaining agenda with employers.


Unite is the biggest union in the country so there is huge potential for green reps to play a key role in workplaces up and down the country.



What's the role of a Green Rep?


Ideally, a workplace Green Rep should have a role both in raising green issues in the workplace but also in linking in with wider campaigns over what are international issues affecting us all.


Within the context of the workplace Green Reps could, depending on what is appropriate:

  • Raise awareness of green issues in the workplace with members - such as reducing waste, recycling, energy saving, green procurement;
  • Liaise with the branch on green issues that need to be raised with management;
  • Carrying out workplace environmental audits;
  • Take part in developing best environmental practice in the workplace such as through committees and working parties, and through drawing up workplace agreements;
  • Monitor employers’ progress towards agreed targets in policy and practice;
  • Take forward and promote wider campaigns on green issues among members and foster links with other campaigning organisations such as Campaign Against Climate Change and Extinction Rebellion; and
  • Network with other green reps in Unite to share information and good practice


How do I become a green rep?


This branch has adopted a policy of encouraging members to become green reps. All reps have to be elected by members at their workplace, and must gain a majority of all members within their bargaining unit to be considered duly elected. The branch is currently seeking to organise training on the role of a green rep and more information will be posted on the website when it is ready.


Any member who is interested in becoming a green rep should contact Roderick Cobley for more information.


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