Rail Worker Trade Unionists And Environmentalists Meet To Discuss How Struggles Intersect

Rail worker trade unionists and environmental activists in the USA are meeting to discuss how they can support each others’ struggles, and how the issues they're fighting on intersect.

Environmental and community activists concerned about “oil trains” (freight vehicles carrying tonnes of dangerous and unsustainable fossil fuel) being transported through working-class neighbourhoods will learn about the workplace issues faced by the workers who drive and crew those trains — fatigue, lone-working, and more.

Sometimes, environmental and ecological struggles can indirectly target the workers who work in frontline, high-emissions industries like energy and aviation. The model of the California conference facilitates relationships based on solidarity and shared struggle rather than hostility.

You can read about the conference in the American trade-union journal Labor Notes, here.

On London Underground, meeting energy efficiency targets and improving the environmental impact of our industry is presented by management as merely an issue of goodwill and personal effort, that all of us — bosses and workers — are equally responsible for. But as Transport for London’s financial priorities show (spending thousands of lavish “business lunches” while imposing austerity policies that will see huge job cuts), our employers are more interested in finding ways to make cuts than investing in green technologies or cutting waste and emissions. As the American conference shows, environmental issues and workplace issues are linked: for example, how will we be able to regulate and oversee emissions resulting from lighting and air-conditioning or heating in our stations when more and more station infrastructure is sold off or leased to private retailers in LU's brave new ticket-office-free world?

We should learn from the model of the American conference, organised by the rank-and-file Railroad Workers United group, and reach out to environmental and community activists to discuss how we can develop a working-class environmental politics that puts workers’ power – in the workplace and the community – rather than shallow PR stunts for our bosses, at the forefront.

Daniel Randall, RMT LTRC Green Officer