Important research published on education in the Labour-Climate movement

Jan 26, 2024

Image by Andrea from Pixabay

GJA would like to draw your attention to some excellent and vital research on trade unions, worker education and climate crisis in the UK being carried out by Stuart Tannock at the UCL Institute of Education.  Two articles have been published so far, with more to follow which we will also highlight.  The first two pieces are:

Culture workers against big oil: the importance of labour education in fighting the climate crisis

In the article, Tannock argues that there is much we can learn about effective labour education and action for fighting the climate crisis by looking at the example of unionised culture workers, and specifically profiles the climate activism of the PCS Culture Group in the UK.

At the beginning of the article, Tannock reports on a recent conflict between the PCS Culture Group and Just Stop Oil over differences in approach to the climate crisis.  The PCS CG felt that the JSO activists who threw tomato soup at the Van Gogh Sunflowers painting were distracting from a vital alternative model of climate education and action that seeks to engage and mobilise workers.  The article identifies that this conflict represents two different understandings of what constitutes effective climate education and action.

An inopportune moment: trade unions, climate crisis and the collapse of labour education in England

Here, Tannock notes that the climate crisis has arrived at a particularly inopportune moment for the trade union movement, when labour education has virtually collapsed – a state of labour education decline that has echoes elsewhere in the world.  This article argues that to build a labour education programme that can help workers fight effectively against the climate crisis it will be essential to understand and address the root causes of the decline and collapse of labour education more generally.

For the union movement in England, this involves attending to three key issues, in particular: the relationship of labour education to the state, to the formal education sector, and to broader labour movement organising strategies and agendas.

GJA is a strongly education-oriented organisation, with representation from NEU, UCU and SOS.  One of our key goals has been to highlight how education, training, skilling and re-skilling are crucial underpinnings to the development and evolution of every sector in our society to meet the challenge of the climate emergency.  We view Stuart Tannock’s ongoing work as a critical component in understanding how to achieve the education needed by the labour force and to realise the true value of education in rising to the climate challenge.

We welcome any responses to the issues raised here and would like to publish them either on the GJA blog page or in a subsequent newsletter.