News | 27th Mar, 2010

‘A step beyond the status quo’: social enterprise aims for green jobs

Saturday, 27 March 2010
Dave Kerin, Green Left Online

Should workers and their unions, in the face of job losses take the step of putting the new jobs in place ourselves? If we could successfully create jobs, then in which industries and towards the production of what products should we focus on?

The CFMEU mining and dnergy division leadership in Victoria has answered “yes” to the first question. It was felt that when an industry like energy generation is faced with such a total restructure, including closure of significant sections, our responsibility is inter-generational.

The union decided that our responsibilities do not stop at the mine gate, but rather involve the viability of our children’s future. Already, small pockets of members are losing their jobs around the edges of the industry.

Upon investigation, the answer to the second question became quickly obvious: the industry must be manufacturing and the goods must be renewable energy-related, as that will be the growth area in the new Australian economy, whether we produce here or not.

Next questions: could we establish a social enterprise manufacturing solar hot water units for sale across the union movement and communities where we live? Could we move from there towards the large-scale manufacture of renewable energy-producing goods themselves?

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