TWU addresses ITF on tackling climate change

Release date: 6/08/2010

Transport workers have agreed that they must take responsibility for tackling climate change at the International Transport Workers Federation’s (ITF) first-ever climate change conference.

Representatives from 90 countries attended the climate change conference, where speakers urged the ITF to develop sustainable means to achieve emission reductions from the transport industry.

The motion to be put before the congress proper, said the process would require “fundamental changes in the current system of globalised production which relies on global supply chains, low transport costs and cheap and increasingly casual labour”.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) national secretary, Tony Sheldon, told the conference that with the freight task set to double in the next 10 years, it was important to both protect jobs and make a difference to the environment.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) national secretary, Tony Sheldon addressing the conference

“The TWU has had a long-term view that the way trucks are operated has an effect on the environment, and our members, the government and responsible company’s have been taken measures to minimise those effects,” Mr Sheldon said.

“The NSW government has introduced paid waiting times at Botany Bay and if this is rolled out across the country, it will have a large effect on the emissions from trucks. 

“We have seen drivers who are not paid waiting times sitting in line for an extra 10 hours a week. That in itself contributes an extra eight tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.”

Mr Sheldon also outlined a TWU proposal that would see the Union, in partnership with transport operators and transport associations, put in place training for drivers on how to get the best fuel consumption while driving.

“The way a driver operates the vehicle can make a large difference to fuel consumption, and that in itself is a cost saver and leads to a more sustainable road transport industry,” Mr Sheldon said.

“At the same time, responsible employers should acknowledge the cost saving and reward drivers, and the TWU will be raising this issue in talks with companies over the coming months.” 

Maritime Union of Australia national secretary, Paddy Crumlin, urged the conference delegates to ensure that we were committed to an ITF agenda.
“We need to come away from here with a plan of action that is clear in what we want to happen,” Mr Crumlin said.

“It is easy enough to say ‘we need action’, but unless we are going to lead the debate and give specificity to the outcomes from the start it will go nowhere.”

The Transport Workers and Climate Change: Towards Sustainable Low-Carbon Mobility report was presented to the conference, and compiled with representatives from unions in Australia, Austria, South Africa and the US.

ITF official, Alana Dave said that the ITF was committed to building alliances to promote a just solution to the problem of climate change and would continue to work with global unions at international level for the forthcoming United Nations climate change conference in CancĂșn in November and December this year.

The ITF represents 759 unions with over 4,600,000 transport workers members from 155 countries. Over 1,200 delegates from more than 100 countries are attending the 42nd ITF Congress in Mexico City.

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