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Opinion Same struggle, same fight: for climate Justice and workers’ rights

SEAN O'NEILL pinpoints the campaigning objectives before the annual STUC youth conference

TODAY delegates are attending the 82nd Annual STUC Youth Conference in Clydebank. Following the STUC’s declaration of a cost-of-living emergency last week, this weekend’s gathering of young trade unionists comes at a critical moment, not just for the trajectory of the country but for the entire planet.

The motions being proposed, debated, and voted on over the course of this weekend tackle industrial issues from mental health, the cost of living and working, sexual harassment and gender-based violence, to refugee solidarity and climate justice.

These priorities of young workers in Scotland carry urgent social and political implications.

Delegates will take forward the trade union movement’s demand for equality and social justice at a time when workers’ rights and democracy are under sustained attack from the ruling capitalist class and its subservient governments.

This conference takes place against the backdrop of the biggest decline in living standards on record and the biggest outbreak of industrial action of rail workers for a generation, signifying that the class struggle is now at a point of no return.

All solidarity with RMT which has taken the lead to demonstrate that workers’ militancy is the only route forward at this historic juncture.

Class struggle has always been about what kind of world young people should inherit, but it now carries a more profound significance than ever before.

Class struggle is about making sure that the next generations have any world to inherit.

The fight for socialism is the fight for a future — against business interests aided and abetted by compliant governments which serve market forces, perpetuating the twin environmental and energy crises.

But despite the perverse monopoly profiteering which commands state power and has sent us on a collision course with nature, we do still have a world to win.

In response we need a worker-led just transition. The trajectory that continued capitalist rule would see the world take can be averted through a redistribution of wealth that allows us to reorganise and, in doing so, revolutionise how we live to make it both more sustainable and just.

With working people increasingly struggling to keep their heads above water, what horizons are there for the next generation of our class?

Young trade unionists understand that there is no future in an economic system that causes poverty wages, child hunger, food banks, eat or heat, precarious employment, mental health crises, drug deaths, war and climate catastrophe.

These existential threats to our class and our planet stem from a system rotten at its core. A system designed to maximise private profit and so is structurally incapable of distributing wealth and resources in the interests of humanity or nature.

The struggle for democratic public ownership and control of public services, utilities, infrastructure, and society’s key economic spheres is the means through which social and climate justice can begin to be made tangible.

A sustained and disciplined effort is required from our class if we are to bring an end to unbridled corporate theft and bring public money into public hands.

To save the planet, we must build workers’ power and make the rich pay. Disaster is only inevitable if we shrink to that challenge.

As delegates participate in the democratic life of the trade union movement at the 2022 STUC Youth Conference, we must do so in full awareness that the choice before us is socialism or extinction.

There is no time for division, only solidarity in our workplaces, our trade unions and on our streets. With this message, young trade unionists continue to advance the struggle for workers’ rights, for socialism and for saving the planet.

Sean O’Neill is a GMB delegate to the conference.

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