Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Reel News videos of CoP23 and linked events

Here's the final versions, all public now -  

Just Transition (26 min version):

Just Transition (13 min version):

BiFab Occupation as a stand alone film (6 min):

They'll also be going up on the Reel news Facebook page over the next few days.

Greener Jobs Alliance submission on the Clean Growth Strategy

Greener Jobs Alliance submission on the Clean Growth Strategy
The Greener Jobs Alliance (GJA) is a partnership body inclusive of trade unions, student organisations, campaign groups and a policy think tank. It is active on the issue of jobs and the skills needed to transition to a low-carbon economy
The GJA welcomes the decision to publish a Clean Growth Strategy. It is intended to complement the UK Industrial Strategy published in November, 2018.  Many of the policies will make a positive contribution to the transition to a low carbon economy. However, taken together they fall well short of what is needed to meet UK commitments under the Climate Change Act, the Paris Agreement, and the Sustainable Development Goals
In the absence of a consultation pro forma we have used the headings in the strategy proposals to frame our response.

1.       Accelerating Clean Growth
The ambition is to ‘develop world leading Green Finance capabilities’. The proposal to ‘set up a Green Finance Taskforce to provide recommendations for delivery of the public and private investment we need to meet our carbon budgets and maximise the UK’s share of the global green finance market’ is the main mechanism for doing this. Surely if we are going to drive the investment at the scale required we are going to need more than an advisory task force. The composition of this taskforce is crucial, including engagement with the workforce and union representatives. Public funding is crucial to support green technological innovation.  The Green Investment Bank could have provided this but the Government sold it off to Macquarie, an asset stripping investment bank, in 2017.
A state-owned investment bank that operates in line with both the industrial and clean growth strategies could play a crucial role in financing key sectors of the economy. A ‘taskforce’ with no powers to directly intervene will not be able to leverage the huge sums needed. This will be compounded by the uncertain future predicted for the UK in the global financial market.
A proposed £20 million fund to support clean technology is better than nothing, but falls far short of the amount needed to transform how we use energy. Far from ‘accelerating clean growth’ the proposals contained in this section wont even get us out of 1st gear.  We are at the point in climate change science when developing the proposed ‘voluntary’ finance management standard will be too little, too late.

2.       Improving business and industry efficiency
The range of measures proposed maintains this blind faith in the voluntary approach. For example, voluntary building standards to support improvements in the energy efficiency performance of business buildings. Legally binding standards that are effectively enforced are what is required.
There is not a single reference in the whole document to engagement with the workforce and union representatives. Even though the Paris Agreement is mentioned there is no commitment to the principle of just transition. This lays a requirement on governments to ensure that their low carbon strategies do not adversely impact on employees. There should be effective consultation procedures in place to consider the needs and views of workers in the context of business efficiency measures. This will be particularly important in the 7 priority sectors identified by the Government.
The view of the GJA is that recognition rights for Workplace Environment Reps would help to drive energy efficiency and sustainability at work through support effective employee engagement, and comply with UK responsibilities under the Paris Agreement.
3.       Improving the energy efficiency of our homes
The track record of the government on this is very poor. The strategy was an important opportunity to provide a clear commitment to make all new homes carbon neutral. The Zero Carbon Homes Regulations due to start in 2016 was an attempt to provide this but the Government scrapped them in 2015. Unsurprisingly there is also no reference to the disastrous Green Deal.  The UK still has the least energy efficient housing stock in Europe. There is a wealth of research that highlights how a large-scale energy efficiency programme could create a huge number of jobs, dramatically reduce emissions, and significantly alleviate fuel poverty. There is probably not a single other clean growth measure where the advantages so completely outweigh the disadvantages.
Despite this the strategy fails to offer the infrastructure change needed to address this so that all homes, currently around 2.3 million households, are removed from fuel poverty by 2025. The proposal to consider ‘options with a view to consulting in 2018’ lacks any sense of urgency as does the caveat of only if it is ‘practical, cost-effective and affordable’ by 2030.

4.       Accelerating the shift to low carbon transport
The GJA has previously commented on the Government’s Clean Air strategy. This section of the strategy suffers from the same limitations. There is a focus on longer term measures rather than properly funded initiatives that can be taken in the short-term to tackle the scandal of pollution levels generated by transport. Waiting until 2040 before ending the sale of petrol or diesel vehicles underpins this lack of urgency.
The balance between improving public transport and conversion to electric vehicles is not right. Electric cars generate significant levels of particulate matter so simply replacing petrol and diesel with electric is not going to address some of the most dangerous aspects of air pollution. If the electricity is not generated by renewables it will also fail to effectively address greenhouse emissions. Far more power to raise money needs to be provided to local authorities to improve public transport and introduce mitigation measures. The mass public transport sector also needs to be brought under public control to address the fragmented nature of the infrastructure.

5.       Delivering clean, smart, flexible power
The strategy makes positive references to renewables. It does include a bizarre claim that the ‘power sector has seen dramatic falls in the price of renewable energy due to government policies, with global investment estimated at $2.8 trillion since 2007. This has driven down the cost of solar cells by 80 per cent since 2008, meaning we are now beginning to see solar deploying in the UK without government support.’ (Page 24) In fact it is R+D decisions made by the Chinese Government that has brought down the cost and increased efficiency not UK government policy.
We are particularly disappointed in the lack of reference to support for solar power and community energy. Not surprisingly the strategy maintains a blind faith that the private sector will up its game. ‘We will continue to work with Ofgem and the National Grid to create a more independent system operator which will help to keep household bills low through greater competition, coordination and innovation across the system.’ As with other challenges in this strategy it is the GJA view that the energy sector needs to be brought under democratic ownership if decarbonisation is going to be consistent with future carbon budgets.

6.       Enhancing the Benefits and Value of Our Natural Resources
This section covers a wide range of different issues – agriculture, farming, food, forestry, waste and resource use. We are currently failing to meet voluntary targets set for reducing agricultural emissions and the urgent need to tackle livestock emissions. The UK reliance on food imports also raises the issue of carbon leakage and imports. If we maintain or even increase our imports of high carbon emission foodstuff we are contributing to carbon emissions elsewhere. This is of course not acknowledged in the strategy.

7.       Leading in the public sector
There has been a missed opportunity to provide a framework for the public sector to play a major role. The £255 million promised for energy efficiency improvements is a fraction of the amount that has been stripped away from public sector finances in the last 7 years. A voluntary emissions reduction target of 30% by 2020-21 is unlikely to deliver especially in the absence of much clearer targeted support.

8.       Government leadership in driving clean growth
In some ways the 3 proposals in this section are the most disappointing. The ‘big idea’ is a ‘Green Great Britain Week’. This is no substitute for a concerted campaign throughout the year to engage the public. Skills is mentioned once (Page 37) in relation to technical education. The strategy would have been a perfect opportunity to show how the UK intended to implement Article 12 of the Paris Agreement on Education and Training.
‘Parties shall cooperate in taking measures, as appropriate, to enhance climate change education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information, recognizing the importance of these steps with respect to enhancing actions under this Agreement.’
This requirement is not mentioned in the strategy. Even the Industrial Strategy which is designed to complement the Clean Growth Strategy fails to reference this obligation and the section on Skills is far too narrowly focused.

9.       Conclusion
There is not a single reference to engagement with the workforce who will have to deliver this strategy. It means an opportunity to implement this part of the Paris Agreement has been missed -‘Taking into account the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities,’
This is compounded by the lack of civic engagement referenced above. The Government has admitted that it is currently not on target to meet the 5th Carbon Budget’s 57% target reduction. Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change has warned against using “the use of accounting flexibilities or reliance on international carbon credits to make up the difference. The strategy refers to the importance of the Stern Report yet fails to draw the lessons from it on market failure. Only 30% of the emissions reductions identified have been counted according to the Government Minister, Claire Perry, which underlines the problems with a document high on aspirations but low on policy detail.

GJA 11/12/17

Sunday, 3 December 2017

PCS DVSA strike on the 4 and 5 December

To unions and trades councils in the SERTUC region

Dear Colleague

Are you able to show support for PCS driving test officers on Monday and Tuesday in Morden, Enfield, Oxford or Gillingham?

Either at the picket line, or in the form of a solidarity message? Please see below for details

All best wishes, Megan

Megan Dobney
Regional Secretary
London, East & South East Region of the TUC

SERTUC, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS
020 7467 1291    07879 631 785


From: Sharon Leslie []
Sent: 30 November 2017 15:38
To: Megan Dobney <MDobney@TUC.ORG.UK>
Cc: Darren Lewis <>; Richard Edwards <>
Subject: PCS DVSA members to Strike over Safety on the 4 and 5 December
Importance: High

Dear Megan 

Please can you arrange for the press release below regarding the PCS DVSA strike on the 4 and 5 December to be circulated to affiliate unions and SERTUC’s MP contacts?
We particularly welcome solidarity support at our picket lines and encourage messages of support to be sent to:
Thursday 30th November   
 Strike action disrupts new driving tests   
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) in the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will take 48 hour strike action on Monday 4th December ending at Midnight on the 5th December. This adds to the action short of a strike which began last week (23rd) in a dispute over the new driving test and also working patterns.
This action has already led to hundreds of tests being cancelled in the first week of the action.
In a perverse move DVSA has withdrawn overtime from striking workers and also imposed leave schedules meaning that an even greater backlog of thousands of tests is inevitable due to the imposed reductions in service. 
A ballot in October saw an 84% vote for strike action on a 70% turnout.
The strike action across the DVSA which begins on the 4th December will see up to 14,000 driving tests cancelled on the day the new driving test is launched.  
Other effects of the action include reduced roadside checks on vehicles, reduced enforcement checks on lorries and other vehicles coming into the U.K and a significant reduction of tachograph testing. 
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka commented
“PCS members in the DVSA have tried to negotiate around their concerns but the door has been slammed shut in their face. They now feel they have no alternative but to take industrial action to bring home to the public how damaging the DVSA proposals are. No one takes strike action lightly and we acknowledge the disruption to the driving tests for learner drivers keen to pass their test but the Government could avoid this strike even now at the 11th hour by agreeing to serious talks and withdrawing their most damaging proposals. I have today written to the Transport Minister Chris Grayling urging him to intervene.”
For information contact PCS National Press Officer Steve Battlemuch on 07515 605755 or via email
Picket lines in the SERTUC region will be from 7:30 am – see details below:
·         Morden DTC, 10 Tudor Drive, SM4 4PE
·         Enfield MPTC, Solar Way, Enfield EN3 7XY
·         Oxford, James Wolfe Road OX4 2PY
·         Gillingham MPTC, Unit 1 Astra Park, Courteney Road, Gillingham, Kent ME8 0EZ
Mark Serwotka is available for interviews on Monday 4th Dec from 1pm at Millbank studio.
PCS is one of the UK's largest unions and represents civil and public servants in central government and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. Mark Serwotka is the general secretary and the president is Janice Godrich – on Twitter @janicegodrich
Follow PCS on Twitter @pcs_union
Many thanks

Sharon Leslie
PCS London & SE Regional Secretary

Saturday, 2 December 2017



Thursday, 30 November 2017

New research shows trade unions getting to grips with climate change

New research shows trade unions getting to grips with climate change
Despite being faced with many immediate battles to fight, it is to the credit of many trade unions that they are also addressing the long term wellbeing of their members, and of future generations, by introducing policies to tackle climate change. A new report providing the first ever overview of the climate change policies of 17 major UK trade unions could help raise wider awareness of this important work.
The author, Catherine Hookes, is studying for a masters degree at Lund University, Sweden, and her research drew on a comprehensive web review of policies in these unions, going into more depth for many of the unions, interviewing key figures and activists. The research was facilitated by the Campaign against Climate Change.
For anyone within the trade union movement concerned about climate change (or for campaigners wishing to engage with trade unions on these issues) this report is of practical use in understanding the context, the diversity of different trade unions' approaches, and the progress that has been made in the campaign for a just transition to a low carbon economy.
While every attempt was made to ensure the report is comprehensive, and accurately reflects union positions, there are clearly controversies and different viewpoints over issues such as fracking and aviation. Trade unions with members in carbon intensive industries will always have a challenging task in addressing climate change, but their engagement in this issue is vital. And, of course, this is a rapidly changing field. It is very encouraging that since the report was written, Unison has voted to campaign for pension fund divestment. This is an important step in making local authority pension funds secure from the risk (both financial and moral) of fossil fuel investment.
Anyone attending TUC congress this September is welcome to join us at our fringe meeting, 'Another world is possible: jobs and a safe climate', to take part in the ongoing discussion on the role of trade unions in tackling climate change.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Book launch: Elinor Ostrom’s Rules for Radicals: by Derek Wall

Book launch:

Elinor Ostrom’s Rules for Radicals: 

Cooperative Alternatives 

Beyond Markets & States by Derek Wall

7pm, Friday 1st December
314 New Cross Road
London, SE14 6AF
About the book
Elinor Ostrom was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Economics. Her theorising of the commons has been celebrated as groundbreaking and opening the way for non-capitalist economic alternatives, yet, many radicals know little about her. This book redresses this, revealing the indispensability of her work for green politics, left economics and radical democracy.
Ostrom has often been viewed as a conservative or managerial thinker; but Derek Wall’s analysis of her work reveals a how it is invaluable for developing a left political programme in the twenty-first century. Central to Ostrom’s work was the move ‘beyond panaceas’; transforming institutions to widen participation, promote diversity and favour cooperation over competition. She regularly challenged academia as individualist, narrow and elitist and promoted a radical take on education, based on participation. Her investigations into how we share finite resources has radical implications for the Green movement and her rubric for a functioning collective ownership is highly relevant in order in achieving radical social change.
About Derek Wall
Derek Wall is the author of numerous books including Elinor Ostrom’s Rules for Radicals (Pluto, 2017), Economics After Capitalism (Pluto, 2015), The Rise of the Green Left (Pluto, 2010) and The Sustainable Economics of Elinor Ostrom (Routledge, 2014). He teaches Political Economy at Goldsmiths College, University of London and was International Co-ordinator of the Green Party of England and Wales.

Amapondo Zinkomo Phakati Zimbabwe?

Amapondo Zinkomo Phakati Zimbabwe?
by John Andrews / November 24th, 2017
(Amapondo Zinkomo is an expression for the early dawn in Sindebele, the language of the Matabele people of Zimbabwe, who were butchered in their tens of thousands in the early days of the Mugabe government. The words mean “the horns of the cattle”, and refer to that time in the early morning were the tips of cattle horns can first be made out against the lightening sky.)
Watching the TV images of jubilant scenes on the streets of Harare on the day Robert Mugabe resigned as president of Zimbabwe, one rather strange thing caught my eye. Not a single policeman was anywhere to be seen. There were soldiers, but no obvious signs of police.
It’s always very difficult to know what’s really going on in the so-called news, and trying to discern the truth of the recent events in Zimbabwe is no different. If Britain’s BBC is to be believed (not usually advisable) the story goes something like this: Mugabe’s wife, Grace, had become obsessed with personal power and persuaded Comrade Bob to sack his number two, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and give her the job instead. This provoked the army, devoted servants as they are to constitutional protocol, to persuade Comrade Bob to go, and for Mnangagwa to be properly restored to office. And that’s all there was to it. But there’s probably a bit more to it than that.
When this story broke I felt two reactions. The first one was delight, and the second was curiosity as to what’s really going on: who was really pulling the strings? There were, of course, two prime suspects: the US or the UK. The UK seemed the most likely possibility in this case, because Zim used to be a British colony, and therefore Britain knows the place pretty well, and no doubt still has important links there. Although Britain seldom does anything without at least a nod from the White House, the US is possibly quite marginal for a change.
The Zimbabwe Independent (ZI) is a news provider based in Harare and owned by Alpha Media, which is possibly linked to an organisation of a similar name in the USA. It has produced a couple of interesting articles on the coup.
The first of these, published two months prior to the coup, revealed that:
BRITAIN has reportedly come up with a grand plan to steer Zimbabwe through its turbulent political transition centred on Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa succeeding President Robert Mugabe with a US$2 billion economic bailout underwriting the project.
ZI cites “high-level diplomatic sources” for its information, and claims that British ambassador Catriona Laing, “is said to have come to Harare in September 2014 with a mission to rebuild bridges and ensure that re-engagement succeeds to facilitate Mnangagwa’s rise to power”.
The second interesting piece by ZI, citing “sources close to the developments”, gives a blow-by-blow account of how the actual coup is said to have happened. Apparently head of the armed forces, General Constantino Chiwenga recently visited China – not, presumably, for his holidays. It seems Chiwenga is a supporter of Mnangagwa, and ZI’s sources claimed that, on Sunday 12th November:
[T]he police were given instructions to arrest Chiwenga on arrival at the airport. A team was deployed to arrest him, but Chiwenga had been informed of the plan by military intelligence,’ an official said.
The military contemplated landing in Lusaka and driving from Zambia to avoid arrest, among other options, before eventually settling on flying straight into Harare.
When Chiwenga came, a team of soldiers dressed in National Handling Service (NHS) uniforms got inside the airport, while police positioned themselves to seize him. The soldiers reacted and disarmed them. The soldiers took off the NHS uniforms, revealing their camouflage fatigues, resulting in the police officers fleeing.
The following day, Chiwenga gave a press conference where he:
ordered Mugabe ‘to stop reckless utterances by politicians from the ruling party denigrating the military’ and halt the purging of people with a liberation background in Zanu PF.
He called for ‘counter-revolutionary elements’ in the party to be fished out and for the Zanu PF leadership to ensure that members go for the extraordinary congress with an equal opportunity.
Next day, Tuesday:
Zanu PF youth leader Kudzanai Chipanga attacked Chiwenga, labelling him a “rebel” and “criminal” who should be held accountable for the country’s missing diamond revenue.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo later issued a statement describing Chiwenga’s utterances as “treasonous”.
The military responded by moving equipment including tanks into Harare after which it secured strategic places such as the Munhumutapa Building, which houses the President and his deputies’ offices, Supreme Court, Parliament and ZBC.
And then things seem to have unfolded pretty much as reported in MSN – except that we know nothing yet about the fate of the so-called “criminals”, or the “G40 faction” upon whom the army was last seen “descending on… between 2am and 2:30am on Wednesday morning.”
Early that same morning, Wednesday, two senior military officers, Major General Sibusiso Moyo and Air Vice Marshall Jacob Nzvede, read out a prepared statement on national television. This appears to have been extremely well-prepared for so early in the morning and, as reported in the Bulawayo Chronicle, is, mostly, an astounding model of reason and moderation – not something one would expect from people whose behaviour over the last three decades or more has often been anything but.
The statement specifically addresses a range of groups and organisations in Zimbabwe, from MPs, the judiciary, armed forces, and civil servants to “the generality of the people of Zimbabwe”; from “all churches and religious organisations” to youth groups, the media, and traditional leaders. It appears to be very encompassing and unthreatening. However, there’s one very important group which is not specifically mentioned at all – the police. There is one reference to “other Security Services“, with a thinly veiled threat:
We urge you to cooperate for the good of our country. Let it be clear that we intend to address the human security threats in our country. Therefore any provocation will be met with an appropriate response.
We have to wonder if this was why there was no obvious signs of any police on the streets of Harare on the day Comrade Bob resigned.
We also have to wonder why, given the quantity of information about the coup that’s publicly available, the BBC never said a word about it. Last Sunday, five days into the coup, the BBC’s twenty four hour news channel had absolutely nothing to tell us, except the events unfolding in Zimbabwe. The BBC has been banned from Zimbabwe for some years, but they had journalists in Harare by Sunday who were reporting live from the capital. Despite the obvious opportunity to be asking these questions, the Beeb said not one word about the apparent confrontation between the army and the police at the airport, asked no questions about how the relatively primitive military intelligence found out the police planned to arrest Chiwenga at the airport, nor where the police are now, nor the fate of the “G40 faction” who were “descended on” by the army in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Almost needless to say, the BBC asked no questions about the role of the British government, or the two billion dollars which appear to be bankrolling the coup.
A week later the BBC had caught up a little, and tucked away on its website was a superficial reference to the airport confrontation – contained in two sentences – and probing no deeper into the story.
It is unquestionably a good thing that Mugabe has been removed from power. I hope that he’s now quickly indicted for the numerous crimes against humanity for which he’s undoubtedly responsible. Almost certainly it’s the fear of such indictments that has kept him in power for so long, aided and abetted by the military, who are every bit as indictable.
The really big question now is what’s next for Zimbabwe? The Brits appear to have their fingerprints all over this. What does the Foreign Office have in mind now? It looks like Mnangagwa is their chosen successor, for the interim at least, but who will they be pushing forward in the imminent general elections? Technically, Mnangagwa, who appears to be a very nasty piece of work, has no right to the job – as he was fired from the role of Vice President. So the very first thing he should be doing is calling new elections.
It might be worth keeping an eye on Patrick Chinamasa, a previous ally of Mugabe who has served as finance minister and is currently head of “cyber security” – someone who should be fairly well placed to hear about any plans to arrest generals coming back from China. According to ZI, he’s recently been busily jet-setting around the world, visiting influential “think tanks” such as Britain’s Chatham House.
Grace Mugabe has been scapegoated in this story, and like most things, it’s hard to know where the truth really lies. But the fact that she and this so-called G40 group seemed to want to overthrow the old regime, and have been “descended on” by the army, just makes me wonder if the old regime has really been defeated. Unquestionably the army will be very concerned about themselves, and are unlikely to support anyone who might send a few of them off to The Hague along with Comrade Bob. Given that the army were so worried about the possibility of Grace coming to power just makes me wonder if the right “criminals” have been “descended on”.
I know it’s an impossible dream, but I just hope someone takes a lesson from Costa Rica’s history and takes this opportunity to scrap the army altogether.
On the day Mugabe resigned the BBC was interviewing various ecstatic people in Harare. One of these, whose name I’ve unfortunately forgotten, was a lovely young woman who has been an opposition activist for some years – and has the scars to prove it. At the end of her interview she was asked a very good question, which went something like this: we know about all the bad things Mugabe did, but can you tell me two good things about him – after all this is the man who ended British colonial rule in Zimbabwe? Her answer was superb. She said that the fact he ended white minority rule was indeed one good thing; but the other was to provide an excellent example of what not to do – meaning that as Zimbabwe charts its new course it may not have a definite idea of what it wants, but it has a very clear idea of what it doesn’t want.
John Andrews is a writer and political activist based in England. Check out John's books: Fiction: The Road to Emily Bay; Non Fiction: The School of KindnessThe People’s ConstitutionRead other articles by John.
This article was posted on Friday, November 24th, 2017 at 3:42am and is filed under MediaMilitarismPoliceRobert MugabeUK MediaUnited KingdomZimbabwe.