MEPs lead call for green workplace rights

8 October 2008

The UK Green Party MEPs, Jean Lambert and Caroline Lucas, have called on governments and the European Commission to legally recognise green trade union representatives in the workplace. The idea has been championed by trade unions as a way to deliver greener workplaces through collective agreements between employers, employees and unions.

Just as unions and employers work together to improve health and safety in the workplace, appointed union green representatives champion green issues.

Dedicated green reps would raise environmental awareness as well as negotiate for the introduction of new environmental practices, for instance in relation to energy supply and consumption, waste and recycling and water use.

Over half of carbon emissions in the UK are work-related, so businesses and organisations have a vitally important role to play in tackling climate change. However, some employers have been slow to implement carbon reduction and other environmental measures.

Jean Lambert, who sits on the Employment and Social Affairs Committee in the European Parliament said:

"Dedicated union green reps have the potential to raise awareness of environmental issues and help to change behaviour in the workplace. They would also help deliver significant environmental improvements through engagement between employers and the workforce that will help the UK shift to a low carbon economy.

"There is huge potential for trade union members to play a significant role as green representatives at work, but to perform their role effectively they need legal recognition and the right to undertake relevant training and duties."

Caroline Lucas, a Member of the European Parliament's Environment Committee, added:

"Climate change requires major changes in the workplace and I call on my colleagues in the European Parliament to sign up to our Written Declaration. Now the Government and the European Commission must work to secure rights for environmental representatives, including time for relevant training, the undertaking of workplace environmental audits and other duties.

"Experience has shown that such measures also have an effect outside the world of work. This would be a simple, but important step forward."

The UK Green Party adopted motion at their last conference calling for Green Reps to be recognised under the law in the same way as health and safety reps. This was put forward by Jean Lambert and was passed unanimously. Jean Lambert has also recently published her new report on Green Work which highlights the importance of giving Green Reps legal status. The report can be found at  

The Written Declaration has been co-signed by Alejandro Cercas of the socialist Group and Luigi Cocilovo from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

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