Transition Agreements: Companies urged to future-proof job security as part of net-zero disruption

Almost three-quarters of a million jobs have been lost in the UK as a result of the coronavirus pandemic

That is one of the key recommendations of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) report, published today (21 August). The report reflects on the lack of negotiations during the industrial upheaval that took place in the 1980s, which saw unemployment levels exceed three million by 1982. As a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, has warned that the UK could return to those levels of unemployment.

The TUC is calling for companies to issue Transition Agreements with unions to improve job security as sectors undergo mass disruption as a result of the levels of decarbonisation required to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The UK also needs a “social partnership approach” to its net-zero partnership, created with assistance from a UK “national council for recovery and transition”.  This approach would see Government, unions, employers and civic partners jointly develop plans to approach net-zero on a regional basis.

TUC’s general secretary Frances O’Grady said:  “National action is vital, but regions need to cut their own path to net-zero too. Each region has its own character, with its own industry, culture and geography. We need local knowledge and expertise to play to an area’s strengths and address its needs.

“A key part of that local expertise is in the workforce. Union reps have a really good understanding of the opportunities in their area. And they are keen to work in partnership with industry, local government and the local community. The last time there was big industrial upheaval in the 1980s, workers were just dumped on the dole. That can’t happen again. It’s why unions keep talking about a ‘just transition’ to net-zero that meets the needs of workers and local communities.”

Research by Transition Economics for TUC found that £85bn in investment could create 1.24 million jobs over the next two years. These jobs would create “significant benefits for jobs in each region of the UK”.

In fact, TUC has called for plans to be tailored based on regions and industries. The North East seaboard, for example, is a prime location for carbon capture and storage (CCS), the report notes, while the North West’s strong track record on nuclear power would enable retraining to develop smaller and modular nuclear facilities.

Green recovery

The need for job security and upskilling is evident. Almost three-quarters of a million jobs have been lost in the UK as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Guardian notes.

In response, many charities, non-profits and business leaders are calling for the UK Government to deliver a green recovery from the pandemic that promotes low-carbon job growth.

A green recovery package prioritising jobs in energy efficiency and public transport could create 1.6 million new jobs in the UK, IPPR research has concluded.

The figure is similar to that raised in recent research by UK 100 and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

The Government has made steps to respond. A £40m Green Jobs Challenge fund will be created to help local authorities and environmental charities create nature conservation and restoration programmes. Up to 5,000 jobs could be created in this way, predominantly in England.

Find out more about the green recovery movement with edie’s Explains guide 

edie has launched a new Explains guide outlining the business impacts, opportunities and drivers of the broader green recovery narrative, as nations attempt to “build back better” from the coronavirus pandemic. 

You can download the guide for free by clicking here

Matt Mace

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