Workers have in the past have been seen as a hindrance to environmental reform. This has been primarily because of the fear of job loss. The job versus the environment dichotomy that has placed workers and trade unions against environmentalists is unhelpful and believed by many as outdated. Internationally, trade unions have worked together with the United Nations and other international bodies to ensure that the rights of workers have not been ignored in the climate change debate. Significantly workers are now seen as part of the answer. Workers are not a hindrance to environmental reform. Rather they are an important part of finding solutions to climate change and wider environmental sustainability measures in our community. The United Nations Environmental Programme report titled ‘Labour and the Environment; A Natural Synergy’ examines how workers and their representative trade unions can make a significant contribution towards promoting action on climate change and wider environmental sustainability measures in the workplace. The report outlines three broad recommendations which countries can implement to foster a growing ‘synergy’ between the interests of labour and protection of the environment. The advantage of the report is that it discusses the recommendations in the context of existing laws and general regulatory structures common to many countries including Australia. The first two recommendations draw upon labour laws whilst the third is in the area of company law. The first recommendation is the use of enterprise bargaining to incorporate clauses which protect and promote the environment in enterprise agreements commonly called ‘green friendly’ clauses. The second recommendation is the use of occupational health and safety laws as a vehicle for the promotion of environmental standards in the workplace. The third recommendation is the active engagement of corporate social responsibility principles by companies. This article discusses the recommendations in the context of Australian law.
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Field of Research
180118 Labour Law 150306 Industrial Relations 150303 Corporate Governance and Stakeholder Engagement
Socio Economic Objective
940599 Work and Institutional Development not elsewhere classified
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