The University and College Union (UCU) has joined the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) in announcing their support for the 20th September climate strikes. The ‘Fridays for Future’ founder, Greta Thunberg has encouraged workers to join this international day of action and turn the movement into a general strike.
This follows months of enthusiastic school strikes, with students demanding “system change, not climate change”. Young people, in particular, have increasingly shown their appetite for bold socialist policies. They rightly blame the 100 big monopolies that produce 70% of all global emissions for climate change.
The UCU has decided to show solidarity with the striking students. They have submitted a motion to the annual Trades Union Congress (TUC) conference (taking place between 8-11 September in Brighton). If adopted, all unions affiliated to the TUC would officially support the climate strikes. UCU has also called on all students unions to support their motion as well.
Solidarity and strikes
However, UCU’s endorsement falls short of calling for a proper strike of workers. Instead, the motion calls for only “a 30-minute workday stoppage in solidarity with the global student strike on 20 September”.
Whilst this act of solidarity is important, it is not going to make a significant impact. A 30-minute strike is little more than an early lunch break. It is better than nothing - but only by a little. The UCU and the TUC can and must do better if students and workers are to truly build a movement capable of stopping capitalism’s climate catastrophe.
Trade union support for the climate strikes is vital. It helps to link the student movement to the wider labour movement. What is necessary is for the entire working class to unite if the fight against climate change is going to have any real impact.
Whilst student protests are visible, their effect is limited. Students have no labour to withhold. It is the organised working class that has the power to bring big business and their Tory representatives to their knees. Students and workers must unite and fight together.
Capitalism is to blame for climate change. Students and workers know this. Capitalism will not and cannot solve climate change. As long as profit is the motivating factor for business, nothing will ever be run in the interests of the planet.
The only way to stop climate change is for the workers to take power and plan production along socialist lines. Only on this basis can the economy be run sustainably for the benefit of workers and the planet. The only way to stop climate change is to abolish capitalism and fight for the socialist transformation of society.