Commission on Sustainable Development Background Paper No. 14 Sixth Session 20 April - 1 May 1998 TRADE UNIONS AT CSD98 International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) Trade Union Advisory Council - OECD (TUAC) This paper forms part of an integrated trade union document covering the four themes of the "Business and Industry" Segment of the CSD. The paper was originally written with an introduction and conclusion with each section flowing into each other in a logical manner. However, for the purposes of the CSD the sections of the paper have been regrouped to accommodate printing of material into four sections. What follows is the "Table of Contents" of the original trade union paper, showing in which of the four printed sections its various parts have been placed. INTRODUCTION (Background Paper No. 2) Globalization of Production and Consumption (Placed at the Beginning of the "Responsible Entrepreneurship" section) The introduction discusses the prospects of sustainable development in an era of globalization and outlines the necessary climate for trade and investment which is needed to foster "Responsible Entrepreneurship" or to enable management tools to yield measurable changes in the workplaces of the world. It argues that International solutions for employment and transition programs are necessary as a prerequisite to effective and local trade union involvement. Part 1: MANAGEMENT TOOLS AND STRATEGIES (Background Paper No. 6) The trade Union Perspective on "Effective" Management Tools Workers and their trade unions must be central to any meaningful change involving the workplace. The section examines the way trade unions are currently working through joint workplace mechanisms, including Eco-Audits as a means of extending advances in occupational health and safety to environmental protection. The section looks at the need to challenge ways of doing things in the workplace in communities. Part 2: RESPONSIBLE ENTREPRENEURSHIP (Background Paper No. 2) The Trade Union Perspective on "Responsible Leadership for Change" A view of "Responsible Business Practice" is provided and explains why trade unions wish to work with employers and governments in providing leadership for change. Responsible practice recognizes the need for accountability and includes target-setting and reporting based on criteria of trust, credibility, transparency, and applicability to smaller enterprises, as well as the participation of workers and trade unions. It also must recognize a role for public policy and government in promoting and supporting responsible leadership for change. Part 3: TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER AND ASSESSMENT (Background Paper No. 10) The Trade Union Perspective on "Cooperation and Capacity Building" The section explains the reasons why support for or resistance to certain types of technological change occur depending on the purposes for which they are employed. There is a particular focus on chemicals as an example where broad-based "capacity building" can occur. A the trade union approach to assessing technology or technology transfer is reviewed and the implications for employment and workers' well- being are highlighted. The key role of training, education and information sharing are discussed. Part 4: WATER AND CLEANER PRODUCTION (Background Paper No. 14) A Practical Approach to the Problem of Water This section looks at the workplace practicalities of addressing the problem of water and outlines the challenges that are posed in addressing any issue from a workplace point of view. The section deviates from others by avoiding theoretical discussions about issues and looks at "What Needs To Be Done" now in making progress on Water. This discussion leads into Part five (printed at the end of the water section) which reviews the implications of the trade union approach on water for other pressing issues, including climate change. Part 5 : THE CHALLENGE OF PARTNERSHIP FOR CHANGE (Background Paper No. 14) (Included in the water section) This section presents the challenges posed by working with trade unions and the reviews the changes that are needed to make the workplace a central focus for sustainable development. There is a need for cooperation in "workplace partnerships" if real change to the patterns of production and consumption is to occur. The process for commencing the dialogue with international business is outlined. Commission on Sustainable Development Background Paper No. 14 Sixth Session 20 April - 1 May 1998 A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO THE PROBLEM OF WATER International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) Trade Union Advisory Committee - OECD (TUAC) I. BEGINNING WITH A WATER RESOURCES STRATEGY 1. Parts One to Three have outlined the principles which should guide workplace action in addressing sustainable development issues. This Part will explore the practical nature of these principles as they apply to the sustainable use of water in industry. 2. However, approached from a workplace point of view, it is clear that we must employ an integrated approach, which includes water solutions as part of an overall workplace strategy that addresses several problems at once, creating double and triple dividends. Our final Part, The Challenge of Partnership for Change, will address the issue of integration directly. Understanding how trade unions would address (and have already addressed) water issues provides an insight into the way we promote workplace sustainable development, generally. A. The problem of water 3. The Comprehensive Assessment of the Freshwater Resources of the World report prepared for CSD97 warned of the worsening supply and quality of water due to the way it is viewed as an unlimited resource (poor allocation, mismanagement and waste) and a "sink" for wastes (pollution). About one-third of the world's population faces shortages and problems with quality; by 2025, two-thirds could face shortages and pollution problems, causing widespread health problems, limiting agricultural and industrial production, and damage to eco-systems. Problems are expected to worsen because of the growing world population (from 5.7 billion today to 8.3 billion by 2025): the increasing demand for agricultural and industrial production using water, the compounding impacts of other ecological problems (i.e., acid rain and climate change) and the effects of globalised trading patterns. 4. Translated in concrete terms, the question remains, what workplace actions can we take to solve some of the worst water problems? These must grow out of an understanding of the problems of water consumption as they relate to three distinct areas of activity: (a) In the workplace itself; i.e., the manner in which water is consumed, used and eliminated in the production cycle; (b) In the production and delivery of the materials and resource inputs brought into the workplace for the production cycle; e.g., raw materials, manufactured goods or human labour; (c) In the surrounding community; i.e., supply and delivery of water, as well as the protection of watersheds. 5. The Special General Assembly of the United Nations last June recognised the critical need to engage in water resource protection using the integrated watershed management approach. Recognising that all workplaces are located in watersheds, we must consider the impact that our activities have on our own watershed, as well as on populations and watersheds downstream. The whole ecology is affected, and ultimately, so is industry itself. The long-term availability of clean water for industrial purposes, human needs and ecological demands will determine the long-range well-being of the area and industry. 6. We must address the impact of our workplaces on the eco-system, especially as it affects our place in the watershed, and implement the best practices in a collaborative approach that utilises the skill and knowledge of all involved and develops increasing capacity through training and engagement. II. TAKING STOCK OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF INDUSTRY ON WATER 7. In previous sections, we suggested that workers must be involved with employers to develop workplace eco-auditing tools to address problems. How might such an approach assist us in developing a strategy for water? Constructing an initial checklist of questions in each of the following categories will help to clarify the follow-up workplace actions that would be required to address the water problems described earlier. Of course, the checklist would differ for each workplace; agreement is needed only on the general approach. A. Taking stock of water involved in the production cycle itself 8. Overall water consumption at the workplace: (a) In the direct production of goods and services; (b) In operations providing for the upkeep, maintenance and cleaning of the worksites and related properties; (c) In the provision of human support services (e.g., sanitation, food, beverages and personal water consumption at work). 9. Wastes from the workplace and their effects: (a) Retained waste water in all its forms (e.g., tailing and settling ponds as well as deep well injection sites or storage facilities, etc); (b) Production of all forms of liquid wastes (e.g., water effluents into natural water courses); (c) Air pollution which results in water contamination of water courses (e.g., metals in soils and SO2 in acid rain, etc.); (d) Solid waste contamination of water (e.g., through public or private landfill operations); (e) Physical disruptions to land and biosphere which impact on water (e.g., agriculture, mining, forestry, road construction, etc.). 10. An initial audit of activities resulting in such wastes would indicate the type of joint worker/employer actions that would be needed at the workplace itself to address them (e.g., reducing consumption, cleaning production, minimising waste and promoting recycling). It would also point to the system of natural resource accounting and auditing that would be appropriate for specific worksites, identifying what needs to be monitored and evaluated on an ongoing basis. B. Taking stock of workplace inputs and their water implications 11. The materials and resources that are brought into the workplace are themselves produced and delivered at substantial cost to our water resources. Sometimes the water costs of an operation remain entirely hidden from and external to the actual production facilities. Therefore, they would not normally be accounted for at the workplace itself. However, for our purposes, a full accounting must take place to determine what changes might be made through an operation's purchasing policies, but also to help define appropriate education and training programmes for workers. A full accounting would include the following factors: Water costs of resource and material inputs into production: (a) Raw materials (e.g., water costs of providing and transporting steel, coal or agricultural inputs); (b) Manufactured products purchased for production (e.g., water costs of manufacturing auto or electronic parts used to produce a final product); (c) Energy resources (e.g., water costs of producing energy from coal, nuclear energy, hydroelectric power or alternative energy sources). Water costs of human labour as an input into production: 12. Employees must come to the workplace, wherever that may be, for production to take place; they must, furthermore, be sufficiently healthy to perform required tasks and be motivated to do them efficiently. 13. Asking about the water implications for employees as an input factor is important, as it invariably shapes worker-based education which is necessary to address water issues meaningfully. For example, agriculture accounts for the largest proportion of the world's water consumption, but the fact that this sector mostly serves to provide food for urban workers makes it a workplace issue. And, as we are discussing water, the amount consumed to produce food for workers is of importance to production as a whole; i.e., workers are also consumers in their own right. Much of their consumption can be attributed to their role in production, and certain water issues must, therefore, be understood as they relate to the provision of human labour as a means of production: (a) Personal domestic water consumption and sanitation needs; (b) Water consumption related to the transportation of workers to and from work (e.g., water to maintain private cars); (c) Water consumption related to the domestic livelihood of workers related to: - Food consumption (e.g., for growing and transporting food as well as cooking and preparing it) - Energy used as a means of maintaining workers' homes - Materials purchased for home and property maintenance (d) Water to fulfil the recreational needs of workers; (e) Family needs related to all of the above. C. Taking stock of community inputs and their water implications 14. The supply and delivery of water is very often a community responsibility, as is the administration of waste water treatment, garbage facilities or incineration. These infrastructure roles must be included as an extension of the production cycle related to water and, therefore, must also be understood as part of industry's cycle of production. The role of government and research bodies in water protection, supply and delivery must be properly understood and accounted for: (a) Treatment and delivery of water for production (the role of local authorities and sub-contracted agencies); (b) Protection of water from abuse (the role of regional government regulation and enforcement); (c) Pollution prevention (the role of research and development for Cleaner Production programmes, etc.); (d) Promoting employment in all aspects of production and consumption of water (the role of public policy initiatives). III. SUCCESS IN WORKPLACE ACTION ON WATER A. Areas for action 15. An analysis of case studies since 1992 shows that workers and trade unions have been involved in finding solutions to a large variety of problems with patterns of production and consumption of water. Our action and (collaboration) has led to: (a) Improvements in water quality, led by citizen demand and participation; (b) Improved treatment of municipal sewage; (c) Reduced discharge of industrial waste and toxic substances; (d) More efficient irrigation methods; improved science and technology; (e) Reductions in the amount of water used in industrial processes; (f) Improved municipal and regional water management systems; (g) Pollution control and clean-up of water basins and eco-systems; (h) Agreements for protection of regional and transboundary watercourses; (i) National and international agreements to share information, technology and monitoring systems. 16. Although trade unions have acquired extensive experience in many aspects of water protection, we are still far from what might be considered part of a well-integrated international plan of action. On the contrary, the experience and focus of trade unions differ considerably depending on where they are and what work their workers do. There is a wide variety of experiences of working with employers and methods of involvement with the surrounding communities. 17. To develop a truly effective programme of water protection would require broad agreement on general principles among international bodies of trade unions, employers, NGOs and governments. Each sector would have to engage in collaborative implementation measures, nationally and regionally, with support for training and education, to develop well-integrated target-setting and reporting procedures. IN JAPAN Trade Unions Organise a Community Project to Clean the Yamato River RENGO's regional organisation for Osaka co-operated in a campaign with Youth Chambers of Commerce, community NGOs and private research organisations to clean up the highly polluted Yamato River flowing through Nara and Osaka. Union members took water samples, carried out fact-finding surveys on the use of combined septic tanks in municipalities along the river and collected signatures for petitions and, on this basis, made demands on local governments to strengthen subsidies for combined septic tanks to ensure that household waste water did not flow into the river. They collected signatures, held events to educate the local residents on the issue and engaged in direct negotiations with mayors of communities along the river. Similar activities involving water surveys and lobbying are being carried out by other regional organisations as well. A Public Sector Union Leads an Educational and Lobbying Campaign on Water The All-Japan Water Supply Workers' Union (Zensuido, a RENGO affiliate) is holding symposiums throughout the country and including regular features in its official publications to educate members on the issue of "water." They have also made a "guarantee of the quality and volume of water resources" a policy demand to responsible administrative bodies. In addition, they have co-operated with forestry, agriculture and government employee unions and NGOs, organised special events and lobbied administrative agencies and industries to promote the use of soap instead of synthetic detergents which are causing chemical contamination. IN THE UNITED STATES Employee Participation Saves Money and Jobs in the Steel Industry When the United Steelworkers engaged in a co-operative programme with Republic Engineered Steel called Project 80, employees suggested about 1,000 cost-saving and environmental improvements in the first 20 months. About half of these have since been implemented, resulting in savings of about $45 million. The single-largest saving, more than $3.5 million, resulted from suggestions for improvements in the recycling of steel scrap. Another huge saving resulted from more efficient use of water, as a group of workers found a way to reduce water used in the heat-treating process. Water consumption dropped 80%, from more than 9 million gallons per month in 1991 to less than 2 million two years later, saving close to $50,000 per year. B. Helsingborg model: A lesson in collaboration to tackle the problem of water 18. The role of partnerships and work-based agreements involving trade unions, employers, local authorities, community groups and governments is illustrated by the success of the Graphical Workers' Union in Helsingborg, Sweden, a city dependent on printing and chemical industries. The chemical products used are organic solvents, paints, lacquer, fixer, etc., resulting in waste that contained heavy metals, cyanide and different acids, alkaline and toxic substances, much of which were flushed into the river. Community sewage treatment works could not handle these substances, and they had a negative impact on sewage treatment. Members of the union could see that something had to be done. 19. The origin of the project was an initiative from the local branch during the mid-1980s when the union proposed measurements against the use of several hazardous chemicals within the printing industry, mainly for health and safety reasons. It was soon realised, however, that a holistic approach to inside and outside environment was necessary, as traditional methods simply moved the problems outside the plants. Several other industries had similar problems. 20. The local LO Facken I Helsingborg, which is the organisation for co-operation between local branches of different trade unions in a city, established its own environmental working group. It worked with the local environmental authority and some companies to create a model for substitution of harmful chemicals based on environmental and health and safety legislation. Seminars were held with the companies involved, and while some were at first reluctant, they finally agreed to co-operate to introduce vegetable alternatives and an effective recycling programme. The Helsingborg model became well known in other parts of Sweden. 21. The substitution and recycling of chemicals has already had a positive effect on water quality of the river but has also created an interest to go further. An agreement between the local authority, the local LO and some companies will start a new phase in the project. 22. The river and the area around it had been cleaned from chemical substances, but much remains to be done. Losses in bio-diversity occurred during the years while nitrogen leakage was high and the area needs to be restored. Bio-diversity improvement, construction of salmon-stairs and other restoration and clean-up activities have begun. The project is financed by the local authority and the companies involved and to a great extent run by LO Facken I Helsingborg. Fifteen to twenty new "green jobs" have been created through this second phase of the project. IV. IS THERE A GENUINE INTEREST AMONG THE SECTORS? 23. Wherever sufficient interest is expressed amongst sectors, and where there is agreement to focus on workplace actions to deal with water, we can begin the gigantic task of making real change happen. 24. The primary focus of action for us would be the millions of workplaces in the world where there are trade unions. If there were a genuine interest in developing common approaches with employers and governments, the following initial steps could be taken: (a) Identify common workplaces where trade union and employer co-operation was possible; (b) Engage in an initial "stock-taking" process for these workplaces involving issues described in Part A of this Section; i.e., identifying necessary research and the appropriate management and trade union tools to be used; (c) Establish a common approach to: - Training and education - Ongoing target-setting, monitoring and reporting procedures - Agreed workplace evaluation process involving local communities - An overall evaluation process to enable a branching out of implementation to other workplaces and sectors. 25. These are some of the challenges posed by issues highlighted in our perspective on water. However, they must all be viewed in the context of general environmental trends and cannot be limited to water. This focus on water has helped outline our general orientation to addressing sustainable development issues as workplace issues. The real challenge is to develop an integrated workplace approach to promote many aspects of sustainable development. We will examine these in the next Section on "Challenges". IN CALCUTTA, INDIA Trade Unions Organise Around Clean-up of the Ganges River When the Supreme Court began ordering shutdown of industry to protect the Ganges, trade unions in Calcutta were forced to make the environment an issue. They have begun meeting and studying the problem and have organised themselves to ask the Court to protect the rights of workers to live and work in a clean, safe work environment. They are also demanding the right to participate in a tripartite forum, to receive information and to find equitable solutions to the problem. A Report prepared for the ILO Bureau of Workers' Activities (ACTRAV) is being widely distributed to members and other unions to raise environmental awareness. IN WEST BENGAL, INDIA A Union Educates Its Members on the Safe Use of Agro-Chemicals and Workers' Rights The West Bengal Cha Mazdoor Sabha is actively pressing for training and protection of tea plantation workers in North Bengal as part of a campaign in which it is demanding changes in the Plantations Labour Act to include training on the dangers and safe handling of agro-chemicals in plantations, especially near drinking water supplies. It has published a Report on the situation for the ILO Bureau of Workers' Activities (ACTRAV). It has organised study sessions and brought out posters on the environment and health issues on tea plantations. IN SCOTLAND Workers Improve the Worksite and Community Environment Manufacturing, Science, Finance (MSF) has encouraged its members to take responsibility for environmental issues and to take up environmental issues with their employers. One such company, GEC Ferranti - a large defense contractor in Scotland, has established a Joint Office Committee on energy efficiency as part of a consultation about redundancies, under four headings: history, audit, current situation and future plans. MSF and other unions at the plant were able to expand co-operation to other environmental concerns, and on-going consultation on environmental issues has produced a number of progressive developments. For example: - The company has significantly reduced its overheads; - All water, apart from drinking water, is now recycled; - A new lighting system, using low-energy bulbs, has been installed; - A new heating and ventilation system, using less energy, is now operational. MSF has also raised with GEC the issue of defense diversification and the environmental dimension of product development as the company comes face-to-face with the implications of the "peace dividend." IN THE UNITED KINGDOM Unions and the Community Attack Titanium Dioxide Culprit The Transport & General Workers' Union and the General and Municipal Workers' Union have successfully negotiated improvements in waste disposal methods at SCM Chemicals in Humberside, a chemicals plant producing titanium dioxide pigments for painting. During negotiations, the union arranged a meeting between senior managers, Greenpeace and the unions to introduce an acid recycling plant to solve the problem of discharge of chemical waste into the Humber Estuary. The company also sponsored a visit by union officials to Brussels and Strasbourg to learn more about the matter. EC directives added to pressure from the workforce for action. IN ITALY The Po Delta has been the subject of much debate for several years. Due to intensive cultivation, the Po river has become seriously polluted. Unemployment in the region stands at 14%. The three trade union organisations got involved in discussions with local organisations and residents about establishing an interregional park to promote tourism, improve agricultural practices and stimulate local industry, whilst saving and cleaning up the environment. Following meetings and discussions, an accord was reached on an organisational structure to set up the park. IN THE UNITED KINGDOM Unions Link Cleaner Production to Eco-bonus Schemes At a Coca Cola-Schweppes Beverages plant in the UK, unions lent support to a CP programme that produced significant reductions in the use of energy, water and materials. The agreement provided that the workforce would benefit directly from any eco-savings made. When the savings of $3 million were realised in one year, each employee was given an "eco-bonus" share worth $1,500. Most of the CP measures at the plant involved simple housekeeping and were implemented at little or no cost and involved no job losses. V. THE CHALLENGE OF PARTNERSHIP FOR CHANGE A. The Place to Start Is at This Session of the CSD 26. Since its inception, Agenda 21 and sustainable development has been stalled in an international gridlock. Trade unions around the world want to break this pattern, making change happen. We welcome the opportunity for dialogue provided by the CSD. Beginning the process in the trade union movement 27. If broad agreement could be reached with employer organisations to set initial targets at the international level, and if support could be identified in national governments to make this a priority, the ICFTU and other trade union bodies would be in a position to take the next step forward. While these decisions would necessarily be shaped by the structure and nature of the trade union movement, internationally and in each country, any future steps would contain at least the following elements: (a) An ongoing consultation process with employer organisations to establish general agreement on the following: - General terms of reference for co-operation; - Selection of issues (e.g., water, climate change or pollution prevention, etc.) and appropriate areas for target-setting; - Selection of priority sectors and locations to begin co-operation; - Acceptable workplace tools and instruments; e.g., mechanisms combining elements of ISO with eco-auditing methods; - Joint approaches to training, education and employment; - Evaluation and reporting procedures involving communities and NGOs; - Common approaches for government support and participation. (b) An ongoing consultation with ICFTU affiliates and the International Trade Secretariats (sector specific trade union centres) to establish approaches to: - Set targets for involvement and for a preliminary audit process, including the identification of priority workplaces; - Develop a strategy for training and education of workers in these priority workplaces, to begin the implementation of a plan; - Develop a common evaluation and reporting procedure with affiliates and sector union bodies; - Consult with NGOs and groups representing local authorities to build a community link and evaluation process for targeted workplaces. Getting underway: Making changes at the workplace 28. If the world is to overcome a deficit left by years of inaction, we must be prepared to make "quantum leaps" towards a global solution. Our contribution to such an effort lies, in part, in the strength and advantages inherent in trade unions working in partnership with other sectors to: (a) Involve and educate workers on consumption and production issues. We will utilise the strengths and competencies we have gained in health, safety and environment, particularly with eco-auditing, to set targets, engage in monitoring, reporting and education, and engage in joint programmes with willing employers, governments and NGOs to strengthen regional, national and international links. (b) Work towards a comprehensive strategy combining all aspects of sustainable production and consumption, not just water. Shifting to sustainable patterns requires closer co-operation between industry, trade unions, non-governmental organisations and governments. A network of "partnerships for change" needs to be developed. (c) Work with international agencies and governments. Organisations such as the CSD, the ILO and the OECD have proven how international bodies can promote dialogue and co-operation, which has become even more necessary in this period of globalisation. The ILO A "Workers' Education and Environment" Project Promotes Education in Developing Countries Around the World No single project undertaken by an international agency better portrays the spirit of "collective engagement" than the ILO's "Workers' Education and Environment" Project, started in 1991 with the support of the Norwegian government. This Bureau for Workers' Activities Project (ACTRAV) has already promoted numerous activities and schools to prepare trade unionists for action through environmental education: - National trade union centres in Ghana, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, among others, have developed policies and action plans on environmentally sustainable development priority issues; - A policy on EPZs and environmentally sustainable development issues has been developed in Southern Africa to be implemented at national and sub-regional levels; - Provided ILO training materials to trade unions for policy-making and assisted different co-operating countries in the development of local materials; - International trade union organisations have used ILO materials in the training of leaders, educators and members; - Unions and labour centres have used case studies to build up knowledge and arguments for use in campaigns and dialogues with bi- and tripartite partners, as well as development of policies and appropriate action plans within their sectors. B. Challenge: Taking Action on Climate Change 29. As illustrated in the case of water, it is possible to make progress on a single issue. However, other equally important ones are looming over the horizon. Climate change presents the most dramatic evidence of the negative effect that unsustainable development has on our eco-system. It threatens to be the most disruptive, causing dislocation to large segments of the world's population, major losses in arable land and habitat, floods and water shortages - all in the near future. Combustion of fossil fuels is a main contributor to the problem, and massive energy conservation programmes are necessary to avoid the devastating implications scientists are now almost unanimously predicting. The outlook is grim, as both the European Commission and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are predicting CO2 emissions to increase worldwide by 36%-55% on 1990 levels by 2020. It will take all of us, working together, to make the necessary changes in the face of climate change. IN SPAIN Trade Unions Participate in Coalition to Present Action Plan on Climate Change The trade union centre, Confederacion Sindical de Comisiones Obreras, led a co-ordinated effort by trade unions, industry, environmental organisations, academics, researchers and consumer and citizens' organisations to draft and present a common proposal for an Action Plan on Climate Change to the Spanish Government. The joint document proposes specific measures to be developed as part of the National Plan, including: - Promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy; - Limitations of emissions in transportation; - Development and implementation of clean technologies in industry; - Promotion of sustainable forms of agriculture; - Limiting emissions from waste treatment. Cost of Environmental Damage Worries Insurance Industry A 1995 "Statement of Environmental Commitment by the Insurance Industry," signed by 60 insurance companies worldwide, identifies climate change as an over-riding concern. An analysis of natural catastrophes in the last 25 years by Munich Reinsurance, a large German insurance firm, reveals that there were four times the number of severe natural disasters in the last 10 years as there were in the 1960s. After adjusting for inflation, economic losses were 8 times greater and insured losses 15 times higher. Losses in 1996 alone were US $60 billion, and Munich Reinsurance's geo-scientists foresee "no let-up in the general trend towards ever-increasing costs." The Insurance Bureau of Canada says that before 1987, insured losses from a single natural disaster never exceeded US $1 billion. Since then, no less than 18 such events have occurred worldwide, and inflation-adjusted costs have increased more than 20-fold, owing to the increased frequency and intensity of severe storms, especially since the mid-1980s. C. Working with Guiding Principles 30. Developing workplace models that integrate responses to all aspects of sustainable development will require the involvement of workers and trade unions in decision-making and implementation, measurement and evaluation and reporting at the workplace, as well as at regional and national levels. 31. The challenge is to produce a work environment in which workers can co-operate with each other, employers, community members and social partners to raise environmental awareness and find creative ways to promote sustainable development at the workplace and all levels. To produce changes in patterns of production and consumption at the workplace and community will require innovative "partnerships" between workplace parties, communities and others, as well as a policy framework to promote agreements affecting the workplace and society. This will require agreement on objectives such as the following: (a) The capacity to think globally, while acting locally at the workplace; (b) The acceptance of employment as a barometer of sustainable development; (c) Corporate responsibility and accountability, matched by responsibility of all towards sustainable development in the workplace and community; (d) "Good practice" in small- and medium-sized firms, supported by a policy framework which recognises their significance as places of employment; (e) Recognition of our international commitments and Agreements, to include commitments made in Rio to Official Development Assistance. D. Taking a Long-term View: The TCO 6E Challenge 32. The "TCO 6E" is a working model for the sustainable workplace designed, produced and marketed by the Development Unit of the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees (TCO). It embodies all of the major elements of the trade union approach to responsible leadership for change, and is, therefore, presented as the basis of a challenge to business, government and NGOs - and to ourselves, as trade unionists. What is 6E? 33. The "6E" is the latest and most all-encompassing in a series of projects by the Development Unit to eliminate unhealthy or environmentally incompatible equipment and practices from offices and other workplaces. Combining environmental practice with sound economics, it is a practical guide for integrating considerations relating to ecology and the work environment into everyday decision-making and standard-setting. 6E is successful because it leads the whole organisation to an agreement on a common set of values and respect for the environment, and inbues everybody with the idea that personal development, a good working environment and a sociable working climate are part of their work. Basic principles on which the 6E is based 34. The change to workplace patterns of production and consumption is guided by the following principles: (a) The Recycling Principle dictates that everything that is taken from nature shall, in a sustainable way, be reused, recycled or disposed with the minimum possible use of resources and without harming nature. (b) The Precautionary Principle requires that if a threat of serious or irreversible damage exists, lack of scientific proof is not used as a reason for delaying measures to prevent this damage. (c) The Substitution Principle means avoiding the use of materials or processes that can be replaced by less harmful ones. At the workplace, it means purchasing the least environmentally harmful alternatives, especially those with environmental labels. (d) The Integration Principle requires that all possible influences on humans and the environment be taken into account all through the planning, production, and consumption stages. It also means that environmental considerations are integrated into the operational business strategy and long-term development plan, on a broad front with respect to health, safety and the environment. The basic elements of 6E 35. The "Six E's" symbolise high standards in Ergonomics, Economy, Ecology, Emissions, Efficiency and Energy. These elements are implemented in the workplace through a step-by-step method that builds competence in the environment and 6E through the phases of preparation, training, implementation and evaluation. The "building blocks" of 6E are as follows: (a) A vision of a better workplace and a better environment founded on positive thinking and the involvement and participation of everyone in the working environment, including (i) physical and psycho-social factors; (ii) type and content; and (iii) aids and tools, as the basis for action plans for improvement according to each of the 6E elements. (b) The development of "environmental competence" in everyone is developed through training in fundamental environmental principles, and then through an investigative working procedure followed by an influential working procedure. This process occurs through working groups led by a group co-ordinator and a project leader who manages the integration task and reports to management meetings. (c) Support material is provided to guide and assist participants at each stage of a systematic adaptation of the organisation's operations towards the vision. It includes: - The Way to 6E: a manual describing the 6E, its aims and implementation; - A Project Binder: to guide the project and group leaders through the model; - An Environment Binder: with instructional materials and articles on 6E Elements; - Private Binders: for all participants to collect material and use Checklists and Calculation Sheets, as well as notes, reminders, contacts and educational material; - Checklists: to help map out both the internal and external work environments and support routines and working procedures for sustaining integration; - Calculation Sheets: to account for quantities and costs of materials and other inputs; - Computer Support: Software to permit mapping and analysis, including computerised checklists, calculation sheets, documents and legal search tools; - A 6E Library: containing documents and booklets on the environmental world. The 6E label 36. The 6E label is a symbol of "Responsible Practice," signifying total environmental integration of the external and internal workplace environments. 6E Approval may be given to a complete operation, or just one part of it, to show that it has passed an important milestone in changing the way business is done for the benefit of both humanity and the environment.
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Date last posted: 8 December 1999 15:15:30