Trade Union Clean Air Network (TUCAN) Charter & New TUCAN Guidance Published
As reported in LTB No. 035/2019 on 21 January 2019, earlier this year, the Trade Union Clean Air Network (TUCAN) was launched as part of the Hazards Campaign and linked to the Greener Jobs Alliance (GJC), working to generate worker/Trade Union awareness and a TU voice to be prominent in the public debate on this issue.
The adoption of a ‘TUCAN charter’ provided a set of demands for Unions to prioritise in campaigns at local, regional, national and international level. The network also supports the development of resources like pollution checklists for health, safety and environment reps who want to monitor the level of risk to their members. It promotes best practice case studies and training that unions can use to raise awareness.
The ‘TUCAN Charter’:-
- Introduce a new Clean Air Act that enshrines the right to breathe clean air.
- Update Health and Safety Law (such as COSHH).
- Ensure effective enforcement.
- Involve the workforce.
- Protect jobs.
- Rapidly expand clean and inexpensive public transport systems alongside investment in active transport to increase levels of cycling and walking.
There is rightly a public outcry about air pollution as a public health emergency. But it is also an occupational health emergency. Having decent work means being able to breathe clean air at work. The reality for most workers is that the air they are exposed to at work and on the way to work is polluted wherever they are working. There is very little acknowledgement of this in most government and local authority clean air policies. 36,000 deaths a year are caused by air pollution, according to a government report. Outdoor workers have been ignored for too long as the pollution crisis deepens. Government strategy however has been essentially to ‘kick the can down the road’ by delaying vital measures or passing it over to local authorities to sort out.
The ‘ClientEarth‘ charity consisting of lawyers and environmental experts who are fighting against climate change and to protect nature and the environment won two major court cases against the government for its environmental failures. In November 2016 the organisation won a High Court case against the government over its failure to tackle illegal air pollution across the UK and bring the UK into compliance with the law. The case is the second the government has lost on its failure to clean up air pollution in two years. In April 2015, ‘ClientEarth’ won a Supreme Court ruling against the government which ordered ministers to come up with a plan to bring air pollution down within legal limits as soon as possible. Those plans were so poor that ‘ClientEarth’ took the government back to the High Court in a Judicial Review and won again.
Concerns continue to grow about air pollution and occupational health as much air pollution is caused by work-related activities.
Please find attached a copy of the Guidance on Air pollution for Union Reps developed by ‘TUCAN’ as a starting point for Union Reps and members to discuss air pollution at work. The Guidance can be further developed as a ‘template’ and can be amended by individual Unions if/as necessary.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer