Gas, Environment/Climate Change
Responding to the challenge of climate change
Climate change, the largest single threat to current and future generations, is posing fundamental challenges for public services and public service workers. In recent years, we have seen extreme weather events, flooding and forest fires for example, leading to loss of life and widespread damage and destruction of buildings and infrastructure. Our members across many services have been part of the immediate and longer term response – in emergency and rescue services, energy and water, local and regional government. EPSU has been working hard to influence policies at global and European level aimed at decarbonising our economies and calling for a shift away from growth at all costs. It is essential that we achieve a more sustainable society is achieved through a just transition whereby no one is left behind.
This briefing, produced for EPSU's 2019 Congress, sets out the federation's recent activity on climate change and current priorities. EPSU has published research focusing on some of the key issues and policy developments including its position on the EU's Green Deal, the failure of energy liberalisation to address climate change and an analysis of action on climate change adaptation.
With forest fires and flooding posing increasing demands on the fire service, the Fp Cgil public service union has called for employee numbers to be increased to 40000. The union argues that the current complement of 35000 is inadequate with many firefighters working double shifts, longer hours and more overtime. Fp Cgil says that excessive workloads leave workers no time for training and is worried that in the next negotiations the fire service will actually push for longer hours rather than address the staffing shortage. The union says that recruitment is crucial to reduce the average age
The GMB energy and general union declared an end to the long and bitter dispute with British Gas over its aggressive policy of firing and rehiring workers. GMB members voted three to one to accept a new deal. Around 7,000 British Gas engineers staged 44 days of strike action after the company threatened to sack them if they didn’t sign up to detrimental changes to their terms and conditions. The new deal offers improvements to overtime rates and unsocial hours payments, places limits on the amount of unsocial working undertaken, reverses the decision to close the defined benefit pension scheme
Poor treatment of employees, outdated equipment and low quality of services – outsourcing and privatisation of municipal services has similar negative effects whether it takes place in Poland or Norway.
In February 2021, the European Commission launched a new strategy on adaptation to climate change as part of the European Green Deal. The objective is to make the European Union a climate-resilient society, fully adapted to climate change by 2050.
EPSU joined a hearing with European social partners on the "fit-for-55" package hosted by the European Commission’s Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Social and Employment affairs Commissioner Nicolas Schmidt.