Energy in a union

Norwegian oil and fuel employees downed instruments and went on strike over pay in July 2022. Just one strike day later, the federal government had intervened.

“Norway performs a significant position in supplying fuel to Europe, and the deliberate escalation would have had severe penalties, for Britain, Germany and different nations,” Marte Mjøs Persen, the labour minister, advised Reuters.

This article first appeared within the newest subject of the Resurgence & Ecologist journal.

The pace at which the federal government stepped in exhibits us the centrality of vitality within the trendy international financial system.


And but this centrality may go a way in the direction of explaining why the vitality sector is so tough to rework, why vitality corporations appear to command a lot energy over states, and why governments are so spooked when manufacturing involves a standstill or will get interrupted by conflict or a pandemic. 

As a drive to cease extractive capital from ravaging the planet, commerce unions might be unrivalled.

Energy employees have the experience to tell our campaigns for a simply transition to inexperienced vitality, after which to assist implement it.

But, extra importantly, they’ve the facility to demand change and shut down the sector by means of strike motion, which might provide enormous strategic alternatives to the local weather motion. 

Yet relationships between environmentalists and the unions in Britain’s vitality sector – akin to Unite and GMB – haven’t at all times been harmonious.


The unions’ document is mired by a historical past of partnership with vitality sector bosses and protectionist insurance policies to forestall job losses within the oil and fuel sectors.

Meanwhile, the local weather motion has turn into divided over ‘inexperienced capitalism’, deterring some union activists.

How can we unite in opposition to local weather breakdown and envision a future not suffering from unhealthy types of energy – in our unions, our vitality system and our society? 

Unions are inherently contradictory. In his new e book Workers Can Win: A Guide to Organising at Work, commerce unionist Ian Allinson writes: “Unions are organisations of resistance to employers however we additionally use unions to agree the phrases of our exploitation with administration.”

Part of agreeing the phrases of our exploitation includes agreeing that our jobs will live on. In the extractive industries, union leaderships can find yourself arguing for the continued existence of dangerous and damaging sectors.

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