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The European Union and South Africa in dialogue regarding green jobs, decent work and a just transition

Creating green and decent work is a common goal for both the European Union and South Africa.Trade Unions from these regions met the 12th and 13th of February in Johannesburg to share both experiences and strategies and also to discuss these themes with their respective governments and other society actors

Creating green and decent work is a common goal for both the European Union and South Africa. These two regions are facing up to an unemployment crisis spiraling out of control which is condemning millions of workers to poverty and social exclusion - with young people being especially hard hit - meaning now is the time to prioritize and widen initiatives to reach this goal. Trade Unions from these regions met the 12th and 13th of February in Johannesburg to share both experiences and strategies and also to discuss these themes with their respective governments and other society actors.

Policies and programs have been carried out in these two regions to promote new-job creation in sectors such as renewable energies, energy efficiency and sustainable management of natural resources, with the added value effects of creating new green job opportunities and incomes, reducing inequality and increasing social cohesion. With the aims of increasing both awareness and dialogue on decent work and green jobs and, also, looking to make further progress hand-in-hand with the Trade Unions in this area, Sustainlabour in collaboration with COSATU (The Congress of South African Trade Unions) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) organized a "South Africa-EU Dialogue on green jobs and decent work."

80 attendees participated in dialogue aimed at mutual learning, promoting informed discourse on creating these jobs and also the requirements for a just transition to a green economy. The world has changed and the European Union learned much from the innovative policies being carried out in South Africa, just as South African trade unionists benefited from the experiences of their fellow Europeans. The event was attended by numerous South African federations along with trade union representatives from the United Kingdom, Norway, Germany and IndustriALL European Trade Union.

"Our world is getting smaller and [more] greatly interconnected, our regions and countries are historically and economically tied. Trade relationships between countries and continents are set to increase. And this trade must be fair. Environment knows no border; what is happening on the other side of the world is happening to each and every citizen of the world. Our concerns for environment are also connecting us." said Secretary General of ETUC (European Trade Union Confederation) Bernadette Segol at the opening.

In Europe, initiatives and regulations adopted by the EU in preceding decades have raised the number of green jobs - estimates put it at up to 3%. However, unemployment has been increasing in recent years as a result of austerity policies, but bearing in mind that unemployment figures do vary widely within the EU, from 4.3% in Austria to 26.8% in Greece. In their respective video messages, the need to address both the climate crisis and the job crisis at the same time, and to undertake this in a coordinated manner, was the clear warning from Climate Commissioner Heideggard, while the possibility of creating 3 million jobs in renewable energies was the notable statement from Employment Commissioner Andor.

In South Africa the Green Economy Accord was signed by social partners, including unions, with the aims of: creating large numbers of jobs; providing a spur to industrialization; and helping to create a sustainable future for this and the next generations. Its goal is to create 300.000 jobs by 2020 in the green economy and activities related to that green economy. Zwalenzima Vavi, COSATU Secretary General, stressed in the dialogue that his trade union's commitment to a just transition is to be accompanied by a strong commitment to urgent action to mitigate climate change and reduce environmental impacts.

Sustainlabour presented two studies in this space for dialogue on the reality of green jobs in the two regions whose summaries can be found in this newsletter. The general conclusion is that in the European Union there is a greater diversity of green jobs policies, while South African policies are better designed when it comes to consistency and attention being paid to social dialogue. In both regions the recurrent themes are very poor quality jobs, and the role labor agencies should have i.e. the politics of green jobs are still led by environmental or energy departments.

Trade unions in both regions are actively participating in these debates; however it is now time to take action. In the Dialogue, the Deputy Secretary General for IndustriAll Europe, Luc Triangle, stressed the importance of the need for trade unions to anticipate changes and to be ready to support the creation of sustainable and decent jobs.

Connie Hedeggard, EU Commissioner              László Andor, EU Commissioner

                               

Please find below Dialogue presentations

 

This activity is part of the Social Dialogue Project for Green and Decent Jobs. South Africa-European Dialogue on Just Transition, funded by European Commission.

Source: http://www.sustainlabour.org/noticia.php?lang=EN&idnoticia=576

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