Maritime union backs student-led climate strike

Climate activists in Brisbane, May 4. Photo: Alex Bainbridge

The following motion was passed unanimously at the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Sydney Branch monthly member’s meeting on June 25.

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The MUA Sydney Branch welcomes the call from the School Strike 4 Climate movement for workers to join their next global strike. We will build for the widest possible stoppage of work to join demonstrations on September 20. We call on our national union to support this action and campaign for stoppages across the global union movement.

We note with anger that the climate crisis is already affecting millions in Australia and around the world. We reaffirm MUA policy that says: “Science tells us that further global warming must be kept to 1.5°C to avoid catastrophic climate change. Average temperatures have already risen by 1°C in the past century and the world is on track for a further 3.7 to 5°C rise.

“The world needs to move to zero net carbon emissions by about 2050, and halve carbon emissions each decade. Yet emissions in Australia and globally continue to rise.”

We reaffirm the March 2019 MUA statement in support of school strikes: “The capitalist ruling class and their politicians have created this climate crisis and appear to have no capacity or intention of fixing it.

“We understand the enormous work to be done to build new low emissions energy and transport systems. We want to do this work.

“We demand an enormous and immediate government investment in new low emissions systems.

“Communities on the front line of fossil fuel extraction and the effects of climate change must be prioritised in a “just transition” to secure union jobs via collective agreements in a decarbonised economy.

“This includes clear job guarantees, training, and direct transition measures put in place by government for fossil fuel workers.”

We stand with Indigenous people in struggles to protect their lands and waters from expansion of fossil fuel projects and demand land rights and jobs on their country to help lands to heal.

We reaffirm the importance of the MUA campaign for the development of an offshore wind industry and welcome the recent success in removing barriers to the progress of the Star of the South project in Victoria.

We call for further commitment of union resources and materials to involve MUA members in an expansion of the campaign, including pressuring all levels of government to rapidly expand an offshore wind industry under public ownership.

We call on the branch and national office to convene meetings and conferences for members to develop this campaign. This could also include pressuring the government to invest in zero-carbon fuels for ships and requiring all ships visiting Australia to turn off engines and generators and plug into renewable energy supplied by ports when alongside.

All of these measures should increase jobs and public ownership in our industry.

We note the Sydney Branch endorsement of an upcoming meeting on July 10 for union activists across Sydney to build for the September 20 strike. We will encourage attendance of MUA members and support such meetings continuing under the name of “Workers for September 20”.

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