With many workplaces looking at ways to go green and reduce their impact on the environment unions and reps are getting involved and leading the fight against climate change. Greggs is one such workplace, and has been working with the BFAWU to train staff and raise environmental awareness.
Sarah Woolley is the Organising regional secretary within the Baker’s Food and Allied Workers Union’s Region 5 and is leading up the environmental work of the union.
Sarah explains why the union is getting involved with the Green Skills agenda:
After moving the climate change motion at TUC congress in 2017 we approached a number of employers about our plans to initially extend the health and safety reps role to incorporate an environmental aspect – with a view to work towards Green reps in the future when we had a training programme in place.”
Greggs bit our hands off, we explained that our H&S reps would initially become SHE reps (health safety and environment) and they jumped at the chance to work with us to make that happen.”
The BFAWU trailed the course with their National Health and Safety Rep’s to see how the materials went down with reps and whether there was anything missing before rolling out to the wider reps.
Greggs were very keen to work with the union on this agenda and offered to produce some training that was relevant to the company as well as being acceptable to the union.
We really are pushing at an open door, Greggs have had a SHE department for years and really were waiting for us to catch up – it’s usually the other way around, it’s refreshing to have an employer engage so much and it not be a fight!”
At the moment it is only the national retail reps who have access to attend the course. The union wants to make sure everything right before rolling it out. There are currently four sections to the training:
- an introduction looking at carbon footprints, what it is, what it looks like for Greggs, why the union is involved, and how to reduce it.
- energy use, looking at where energy is used, where the company gets it from, using the Energy monitoring tool on the companies intranet
- waste management and reducation which includes reuse and recycling
- a mop up module covering water use and other elements
The courses are happening at the moment and spread across four training session through 2019. When they have all been run Sarah and the group will decide whether they have been successful and how to roll it out to the wider reps – though a number of the national reps have already begun feeding back the information to their regional JCC meetings.
Sarah feels this is just a start and said:
It would be fantastic if other employers would engage in this way, we have a template now of how the sessions can be run, they would just need tweaking to make relevant to specific employers.”
The format Greggs have used is great, they have included us in the discussions and to a point the development, though they have taken the lead with that. They have made the sessions short, informative and engaging. There really is no reason why other employers can’t work with us to do the same – many are doing some great things around the environment!”
Beyond the work with Greggs the BFAWU are currently collating the Green Surveys filled in at their annual conference and various regional meetings. Sarah said this has shown there is an interest from reps/members for the union to develop Green reps.
We passed a motion at the GFTU’s biannual conference which, amongst other things, asked for them to develop and run a Green Reps course which will take time but will enable us to fully train our reps to fulfil the role. In the meantime we are signposting those interested to various places such as Greener jobs alliance website, TUCAN, campaign against climate change, TUED and booklets that the TUC have produced around the subject which will help them develop their own skills.”
The BFAWU are also producing a quarterly newsletter called Greener Future, which is full of best practice, ideas that can be done at home or at work, interesting articles and links to find out more information.
Back at Greggs, the reps who have attended the sessions have given very positive feedback, mainly about being more aware of their own behaviour and how they can make a difference in their shops or at home.
Sarah gave the example of a shop not turning on a dishwasher when not needed. Sarah said:
Turning a dishwasher on at 9.00, instead of when workers get in at 6.00 doesn’t make a massive difference for the one shop alone, but if you multiply that small saving in energy by 1700 plus shops it makes a huge difference for the company!!”