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March 1, 2011

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Sharing ideas on greening the workplace

The TUC has launched what it describes as the first UK online network for green union reps.

The website – www.tuc.org.uk/green_workplaces_network – enables environmental reps in workplaces across the UK to keep up to date with union and community-based events and training courses, share ideas and best practice, and find out the latest developments on green issues at work.

The TUC believes green reps play a crucial role in encouraging employers and staff to take part in environmental projects at work, cutting UK carbon emissions, and boosting company profits.

The site features case studies of successful environmental projects, including an energy-saving project at Magor Brewery near Newport, which saw owner ABInBev invest £1.4 million in measures suggested by the Unite union and the workforce.

As a result of the green project at the brewery 46 per cent less water was used, electricity consumption was cut by 49 per cent, and heating bills were reduced by 23 per cent. Some 70 per cent of the savings have been attributed to behavioural change among staff, who have become greener in how they carry out their work.

Other resources provided by the site include:

  • a model joint environmental agreement aimed at building partnerships between employers and unions to reduce the environmental impact of the workplace;
  • checklists to help union reps conduct environmental audits of their workplace, covering energy, waste, water and transport;
  • training resources for environmental courses and workplace activities; and
  • tips on how to go green at home and save money.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “This website will be a key tool for union green reps to keep in touch with each other, and to share news and ideas. It highlights the importance of ‘greening’ the workplace and underlines the need for statutory rights for union environment reps.

“Already, companies that work with green reps are achieving energy savings and huge cost benefits, and, with new legal rights, more companies – especially those with poor environmental records – could start to clean up their act and make a real difference.”

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