Unions join students’ call to strike for real climate action

At the Sydney March for Our Future in December. Photo: Peter Boyle

School students are calling on universities, unions, faith groups and others to join their next strike for climate on March 15.

They are leading the debate on climate change by organising large gatherings of students, across the nation, to demand governments stop perpetuating catastrophic climate change.

They have the high moral ground: they are not responsible for the climate disasters that are unfolding, disproportionately hurting the poor. But, they will have to pick up the pieces after bad policy wrecks global havoc on communities, ecosystems and the climate.

Embarrassingly for the prime minister, it is precisely because of their schooling that they are taking action. Students are using their knowledge of climate change science to organise mass actions – showing just how many of their cohort agree. Their successful thousands-strong strike in November has given them the confidence to push on.

Below is a February 12 statement from the School Students 4 Climate organisers call on other sectors to join in their next major action on March 15.  

• • •

On March 15 and ahead of the federal election, tens of thousands of Australian school students from hundreds of schools in dozens of cities and towns will join students from more than 40 countries to strike from school, calling on all politicians to #StopAdani, say no to new coal and gas and power Australia with 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Australian strikes are being listed here as they are organised.

Following massive strikes around Australia at the end of 2018, students are this year extending an open invitation to everyone, including the union movement, health groups and the faith community, to back the strike and walk out for the day in solidarity.

A growing number of unions are supporting the students’ #ClimateStrike, including the National Union of Workers, National Tertiary Education Union, United Firefighters Union, Hospo Voice, the Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association and the National Union of Students, with more coming aboard. Additionally, more than 300 academics have signed an open letter in solidarity with the student strikers.

Fourteen-year-old Castlemaine student Milou Albrecht, who helped kick off the school strike movement in Australia, said: “A federal election is around the corner but our politicians have lost touch with the Australian people. Extreme weather is all around us and with 2019 an election year it’s time our politicians showed leadership.

“We invite adults to join us in solidarity at this strike — our parents, neighbours, grandparents and friends. We also welcome the union movement, health and faith groups and any sector that agrees with us that climate action is well overdue.

“We may still be in school but we know the mining and burning of fossil fuels are driving dangerous climate impacts, including natural disasters, droughts, bushfires, and heatwaves. We only have a decade to prevent the worst impacts of climate change yet our politicians are wasting time and putting our future in danger.

Fellow striker Harriet O’Shea Carre, 14 years old, said: “As school students, we’re sick of being ignored. We’re sick of our futures being turned into political footballs. We feel sick when we see the climate impacts that are already devastating communities here and around the world. It’s time for our politicians to stop making decisions about us without us.

“If our politicians care about us, they need to urgently stop Adani’s coal mine and put Australia on a rapid path to 100% renewable energy to make sure we have a safe future. We won’t stop striking and taking action in our communities until we get the action that we deserve,” said O’Shea Carre.

“On March 15, we’re walking out of school to tell our politicians to take all of us seriously and start treating climate change for what it is: a crisis and the biggest threat to our generation and generations to come.

Backing the #ClimateStrike, the National Union of Workers said: “The National Union of Workers is supporting the #ClimateStrike and all the students that are standing together collectively for their future. They are inspiring leaders and we support them in making our political leaders listen.”

The Australian school strike movement began last November when school students in Central Victoria were inspired by 15-year-old Swedish student Greta Thornberg who has been striking outside Swedish Parliament every Friday since August.

On November 30, more than 15,000 school students went on strike, defying Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s orders not to. A similar number hit the streets a week later, in response to Adani’s announcement it would self-fund its Carmichael mine.

[For more information or to sign on to the strike call visit www.schoolstrike4climate.com.]

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