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We are living in a climate emergency that is hurting workers and their livelihoods – especially in unionised sectors such as energy, transport and agriculture. As trade unionists, what can we do to build sustainable jobs for our members?

At the Education Department of the ETUI, we decided to develop training based on an original approach.

An approach in which trade unionist put into practice their knowledge and experience to protect workers facing the climate emergency.

This is what we call our green competence framework approach.

Five green competences

By applying ETUI’s green competence approach,  trade unionists will be able to draw up plans, build alliances and anticipate changes in such a way that their unions will have maximum influence and workers will have the best chance of enjoying rewarding and sustainable jobs for generations to come.

The ETUI’s green competence approach is built around five key competences:

  1. Collective competence– solidarity within and beyond the union movement, building alliances with civil society
  2. Prospective competence– planning how to respond to the consequences of environmental policies.
  3. Ethics and responsibility competence – taking care of present and future generations of workers in a carbon-neutral economy.
  4. Systemic competence  – ensuring that decisions taken in favour of some workers do not interact adversely with decisions taken for others.
  5. Competence in terms of change– analysing strong and weak signals of change and their impacts.

New training material

From September 2021 to December 2021, six experienced trainers from four organisations  -ZSSS (Slovenia), CISL (Italy), KOZ (Slovakia), and UGT (Spain) - participated in capacity-building training course to produce training material on ETUI's green competence framework approach.

More precisely, they used “real-life situation” or “case studies” to develop green competences.

These case studies which dealt with the topic of Just Transition brought alive fictional characters (mid-age workers, part-time workers, John, Marco...) or various stakeholders (e.g., trade unions, investors, a company, a local community, etc.). 

Let’s have a closer look at one case study.

In a case study focusing on ethics & responsibility, trainees explore trade union leaders' values and visions towards the transition to a low carbon economy through a dialogue between Marco, and Andrea.

Marco is a 31-year-old trade union officer, very passionate about ecology. He began working as a trade unionist 5 years ago. He has a University Degree in the Labour Market and works mainly in the trade union office, doing research and offering assistance to workers who come to the office. He is also an activist for an NGO, which works on ecological education. 

Andrea is a 55-year-old Trade Union Leader. He has been working in the construction sector for the past 20 years. He has the lengthy experience and spends most of his working time visiting construction sites to give assistance and information to workers. He is also an expert in vocational education for construction workers.

Andrea is very happy because there are a lot of new construction sites in town, and a lot of small construction sites to renovate buildings… The public incentives and eco-bonuses have really given a boost to the sector and his union is going to have many new members.

Marco is more sceptical and during a dialogue with Andrea in his office he says: “as Trade Unions, how can we guarantee that any new jobs will be decent and of good quality? How can we protect the most vulnerable workers, as well as the oldest ones? Surely our sector is strategic for reducing the environmental impact of houses and buildings, but the so-called green economy doesn’t automatically create quality jobs”.

At the end of this dialogue, trainees have to answer questions such as: What do you think about this dialogue? Which character do you agree with more and why? Do you agree or disagree with Andrea suggesting that Marco is setting the bar too high? Explain your position.

Way forward

Next March, three face-to-face training sessions will be organised in Bratislava, Madrid, and Florence to test a selection of case studies with a public of trade union officers and representatives. During these training sessions, participants will share ideas on implementing the ETUI's green competence framework approach in their trade unions' practices.

At the end of the day, we hope to build the embryo of a network of trade union trainers willing to share their knowledge and skills, values, and attitude needed to live in, develop, and support a society that reduces the impact of human activity on the environment.

For more info on how to participate, visit our special training web page.