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Why We Need to Strike for The Climate
This year students around the world have gone on strike for the climate. The target is decades of government inaction. Students have issued a call for workers to join them in international strikes on September 20th.
The stakes are high.
- There is a climate emergency: the climate is already severely disrupted—we are seeing melting ice and more extreme weather events—storms, floods, droughts, fires, heat waves.
- If working class people don’t take action, we won’t protect the environment, and the rich and powerful will, as usual, look after themselves while making us pay the price—suffering most from climate chaos, and seeing our jobs, housing, communities, and environment destroyed.
What is a strike?
A temporary work stoppage by a group of workers to express a grievance or enforce a demand.
- It’s a group/collective act.
- It’s an exercise of power—every product and service relies on workers working.
- It can “create a crisis” for those in power, forcing them to respond in some way.
- It can be a transformative experience, with workers experiencing their own collective power.
- This is essential if we are to break millions from the feeling that climate breakdown is so big we are helpless, so we might as well ignore it.
Step 1: Getting started
Talk to your co-workers. Call a lunchtime meeting to discuss the climate emergency. Meet after work. What do people think about what we can do on Sept. 20?
Try to kick off a conversation about the connections between the climate crisis and your sector. Propose some ways that you and fellow employees could join the strike and decide together what you want to do. What would be good demands—for you employer, for the government?
Don’t underestimate the power you have to inspire your friends and colleagues if you’re passionate about this moment. And you could invite a local school striker to speak to your colleagues and plan with you.
Step 2: Organize your action
Once you’ve got an initial plan and interest, publicize your action. Call a larger meeting. Outline why your workplace should join the climate strike. You’ll want to make sure no one will face discipline. You can seek to get employer agreement to support worker participation. If you have a union, seek to get union support. The goal of the climate strike is to disrupt business as usual, everywhere, and force governments to act like there’s a climate emergency.
Step 3: Publicize your strike
Let others know your plans. You can encourage workers elsewhere to strike also. You can help them figure you how to do it.
Communicate widely to everyone, through staff newsletters, emails, on company websites and social media channels etc. Make your own social media channel.
Put up posters / distribute flyers everywhere. Invite colleagues to do the same through their networks.
Post selfies or group photos on social media using #climatestrike to let school strikers know your workplace is joining in and to inspire other workers to do the same.
We aren’t going to win our demands for addressing the climate emergency by striking on September 20th. But this is an important part of a process moving in that direction.