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Every Worker, Every Workplace, Inverness, 27th Sept, 2023

Scottish Union Learning and the STUC organised a workshop, Every Workplace, Every Worker, as part of the Highlands and Islands Climate Festival which ran throughout September. This workshop enabled people to recognise the important contribution learning has already made to workers in Highlands and Islands, while looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.

The three-hour session was supported by various trade unions, local trades councils, and partner organisations. The objective was to explore  the role that learning can play in a worker-led Just Transition, with a specific focus on the Highlands and Islands where industry, infrastructure and landscape often present significant challenges for workers.

The workshop was delivered by Ryan Morrison and Tam Wilson, STUC’s Just Transition Officers. The first half of the event focussed on exploring and examining the history of climate change through discussion of the concept of a worker-led Just Transition, which puts workers at the heart of driving climate change policies forward, as well as ensuring new green jobs are created with workers’ rights in mind. A Just Transition also helps workers currently employed in high carbon industries, such as the automotive industry, to reskill into ‘green versions’ of their current jobs; for example, Unite the Union’s SUL-funded learning project organises learning programmes to upskill/retrain petrol and diesel mechanics to work with climate-friendly electrical vehicles.

During the workshop, Ryan and Tam invited participants to look at real life examples of good practice, both from the past and present. Learning Organisers from the various H&I SUL-funded learning projects shared stories, case studies, and examples of good practice which their members are engaging with in Highlands and Islands.

Throughout the workshop, participants reflected on the fact that climate change isn’t something which can be tackled through individual means, but is instead a structural issue which requires systemic change.

Climate crisis is not created by workers, but the labour movement must play a lead role in resolving it. Our workshop concluded with a discussion around how we can work together as we go forward. Learning will be a major part of bringing about the change we need to ensure that no worker is left behind as a result of climate change.

Scottish Union Learning would like to extend its thanks to Ryan and Tam for their excellent workshop delivery. We would also like to thank STUC, Moray Trades Union Council, Inverness and District Trades Union Council, Scottish Artists Union, UNISON Highlands and Islands, Unite the Union, and EIS, for their support in the planning and dissemination of this event. Thanks also to The Treehouse in Inverness for providing SUL with an excellent venue, and to Velocity Café for the delicious catering – especially the lemon drizzle cake!