Thirty trade union bodies representing tens of millions of workers have issued a statement calling for a global moratorium on fracking.

Activists behind a New York Police Department vehicle at an anti-fracking demonstration in Manhattan, New York City organized by CREDO Action and New Yorkers Against Fracking. The demonstration was aimed at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was holding a policy summit in the New York Sheraton across the street. Photo credit: Adam Welz for CREDO Action. Creative Commons License: Non-Commercial Use Allowed

Activists behind a New York Police Department vehicle at an anti-fracking demonstration in Manhattan, New York City. Photo credit: Adam Welz for CREDO Action.

During the UN climate talks in Lima, Peru, in December 2014, a number of unions discussed the need for the international trade union movement to join the growing opposition to hydraulic fracturing (known as ‘fracking’).

The unions have put together a statement designed to build union support for a global moratorium on fracking for shale gas, shale oil and coal bed methane.

Thirty trade union bodies representing tens of millions of workers have signed the statement to date.

Josua Mata, secretary general of the SENTRO union centre in the Philippines and one of the first signers of the statement said:

Union Against Fracking “It is a scientific fact that tropical cyclones in the Pacific are getting more intense as ocean temperatures rise – two thirds are now a category three or stronger, and Yolanda was the largest to ever reach land. Fugitive methane from fracking is making a contribution to these extreme weather events, and poor countries like the Philippines are paying a high price.

“With climate change, there is no such thing as ‘not in my back yard’ because we are all impacted by actions taken elsewhere. Today it is the poor countries that are the most vulnerable, but tomorrow it will be everybody. Which is why we need to show international solidarity around a commitment to stop fracking and other forms of extreme extraction.”

Among the thirty first-signers are national trade union centres from: Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Nepal, Peru and the Philippines; two Global Union Federations representing education and public service workers, and key unions in health care, energy and water utilities.

The national and global unions include:

  • Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)
  • Central de Trabajadores Argentinos (CTA)
  • Central Unitaria de Trabajadores Del Perú (CUT)
  • Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT) Brazil
  • Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB)
  • Confédération des syndicats nationaux, Québec (CSN)
  • Federatia Sindicatelor Independente din Educatie (FSIE) Romania
  • General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (नेपाल ट्रेड यूनियन महासंघ)
  • Global Nurses United
  • Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Mangagawa (SENTRO) Philippines
  • Public Services International (PSI)
  • Education International (EI)

If you would like your union to sign the statement, please contact Union Against Fracking here.

Unions are also among more than 1,000 organisations that have signed the Global Frackdown for Paris.

The statement reads:

“We are national trade union centres, global union federations, and individual unions representing millions of workers in the global North and South.

We call for a global moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas, coal seam gas, and shale oil.

Fracking is happening or is being proposed in a growing number of countries. In Argentina and Canada indigenous people have led the resistance, and in Bulgaria and Romania farmers have engaged in direct action against the gas companies.

Fracking has led to attacks on land rights, and the large amounts of water used in fracking also threatens to increase water scarcity in areas where water supply and access pose real problems for people, particularly those in poor rural communities.

In almost every country or region where fracking is either proposed or already happening it has met determined opposition from a wide array of people and organisations.

The experience of fracking in the United States since 2002 has shown that the process threatens the health and quality of life of communities situated near drilling sites.

Anti-fracking campaigners at Cuadrilla drilling site at Balcombe, West Sussex. Photo by SHeila CC on Flickr

Anti-fracking campaigners at Cuadrilla drilling site at Balcombe, West Sussex. Photo by Sheila CC on Flickr

There are tens of thousands of shale gas wells in the U.S. alone – and water contamination is a known result of drilling. The high-volume use of carcinogenic chemicals such as silica also poses a threat to health, particularly to workers on drilling sites and who handle the wastewater from fracking. In the U.S. companies are not even required by law to disclose the chemicals used in the process.

We are also concerned about the impact of fugitive methane from drilling sites on global warming. Recent drill-site and atmospheric studies show high levels of methane leakage — suggesting that shale gas is worse than coal in terms of its impact on the atmosphere.

In calling for global a moratorium on fracking, our unions stand in solidarity with all communities, municipalities, regions and nations who have already introduced moratoriums or are attempting to do so.”

Adolfo Aguirre, Secretary of International Relations, Central de Trabajadores de la Argentina: “In Argentina we have witnessed the heroic resistance to fracking being led by the Mapuche people in Neuquén province. The YPF-Chevron agreement to frack for shale gas and oil has led to heavy police repression of activists, and homes of Mapuche residents have been burned to the ground. The prospect of high-volume fracking in Argentina will lead to even more resistance–we need a global response.”

Jean Ross, RN Co-President, National Nurses United, US: “Nurses around the world are standing up to all forms of extreme extraction. In the US, we have seen the health impacts of fracking for shale gas and oil on workers through rig fatalities and silica exposure. And we have seen the health impacts among our patients–particularly children–in communities across Texas, Pennsylvania and now California due to chemical exposures from nearby fracking operations. The ban on fracking in New York state was largely based on health concerns both from water contamination and from air pollution; this precautionary principle should apply everywhere.”

Bishnu Rimal, President, General Federation of Nepalese Workers“We do not have shale gas or oil in Nepal, and therefore no fracking is taking place. But we do have glaciers, and farmers and urban dwellers who depend on the water provided by them. These glaciers are retreating; in fact glacial retreat in this region is happening faster than anywhere else in the world. Fugitive methane from drilling sites in countries like the US is warming the atmosphere and the effects of this on the eco-systems of Nepal and other countries is indisputable.”

 

 


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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