Blog 34 is here, fresh from the invigorating #climatestrike on the 20th September, and bristling like Basils impressive brush with optimism after hearing Labour’s well needed plans for an alternative at conference. Change is a coming, and I’m quite prepared to be the vibrant chameleon on Greta and Corbyn’s radical leafs.
First off – Ten thousand students, parents, trade unionists, and other glittering progressives marched through Leeds city centre on the 20th September to protest the global climate catastrophe and demand change. Greta Thunberg later in the week thundered into the suits in the United Nations “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”. With that critique of eternal economic growth Greta really hits the nail on the head. If this path of a selfish profit orientated world continues then the inhabitable planet won’t survive much past this century. However if we, the global citizens can work collectively then we have a chance of limiting the destruction. Of course this is where socialism and Trade unionism comes in. Big businesses work to please their shareholders and short term gains. Just 100 companies are responsible for the majority of global carbon emissions. To have a collated and sustainable future we need a coordinated plan for the many, not profits and for the rich. Capitalism is dying along with the forests.
The NHS also needs to change. The NHS contributes 5.4% of the UK’s greenhouse gases (equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of 11 coal-fired power stations). The NHS accounts for almost 10bn road journeys each year – around 3.5% of all UK road travel.
Dr Cathy Lawson, a fellow in environmentally sustainable anaesthesia for the Association of Anaesthetists based at Newcastle upon Tyne hospitals, says reducing the use of Desflurane (an anaesthetic gas which has alternatives) can make a real difference. “Since 2016, we have cut emissions from anaesthetic gases by 45%, through education about the environmental impact that our different gases have, supporting our colleagues to make informed choices about their clinical practice and using behavioural nudges to reduce unintentional use of our more harmful agents.” Again the NHS has a whole needs to work collectively on reducing these emission’s; it cannot be left to individual trusts to carry that burden. Leeds Teaching Hospitals has plans which reduce our Carbon footprint. Your Branch will continue to collaborate and press the need for change. I have spoken to our sustainability manager this week who confirms the use of desflurane is going down. We are doing our little bit in Leeds, hats off to those anaesthetists who are changing.
So onto those Labour Party pledges (you can just see them through the smoke and mirrors of the Brexit arguments)
1/ Large employers would be forced to provide flexible hours to women experiencing the menopause.
2/ A cut in the average working week from 37 to 32 hours within a decade, with no loss of pay.
3/ Free personal care for the elderly.
4/ Abolishing private schools – and spreading the savings to all students.
5/ Backing a zero carbon target by 2030 as part of a Green New Deal agenda. This is the most radical of any European political party. In the UK other political parties commit to net-zero by 2050
6/ To fight a trade deal with Trump that sells off our NHS
7/ Prescription charges are a tax on illness. The next Labour government will abolish all prescription charges.
And perhaps very relevantly here in the North of England
8/ A block to back door NHS privatisations (No more wholly Owned companies).
It all seems very exciting doesn’t it? From despair to where? Well hopefully an exciting radical future being an active, fighting Trade Unionist within your NHS hospital.
UNISON are having a big recruitment month in November so it is likely you’ll see an increased UNISON presence around all the hospitals – if you see anyone come say hello – we don’t bite , and those of us who do, well we are all gums….
…. Speak soon XXX