Everyone’s business: why companies should let their workers join the climate strike



A climate rally in Sydney in March 2019.
AAP

Ian McGregor, University of Technology Sydney

Multinational ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s will close its Australian stores for this month’s global climate strike and pay staff to attend the protest, amid a growing realisation in the business community that planetary heating poses an existential threat.

It is one of hundreds of business in Australia and many more overseas that plan to support the strike on Friday, September 20.

Millions of people around the world are expected to take part in the schools-led civil action, led by 16-year-old Swedish student and climate activist Greta Thunberg.

A young child holds a sign as part of a climate strike in Sydney in March 2019.
AAP



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The strike will call for decisive global action on climate change ahead of a major United Nations summit in New York on September 23.

Scientists themselves recently urged their colleagues to embrace political activism, even civil disobedience, arguing that using peer-reviewed research to influence policymakers has not brought about the radical change needed.

Ben & Jerry’s will close 35 shops across Australasia for the duration of the strike. The company’s Australian arm has declared that business as usual “is no longer a viable plan” in the face of a climate emergency. Or as the company says in its values statement: if it’s melted, it’s ruined.

No one will be spared from the effects of unmitigated climate change, and that includes the business community. That’s why I argue that all businesses should support the climate strike any way they can.

There is no escape

The Department of the Environment and Energy has warned of the pervasive effects on Australian business of higher temperatures, altered rainfall patterns and more frequent or intense fires, heatwaves, drought and storms.

The department says the changes will be felt “by every person and every organisation, public or private, and at all levels, from strategic management to operational activities”.

Firefighters battling a bushfire on the Sunshine Coast on September 9, 2019. Bushfires are expected to become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change.
John Park/AAP

Many in the business sector recognise the looming challenge, including the Business Council of Australia which has called for a bipartisan energy and climate change policy framework.

So who’s already on board?

Ben & Jerry’s Australia and New Zealand marketing manager, Bert Naber, confirmed to me in an interview that the company would close its stores for several hours on September 20.

Staff will be paid while the stores are closed. The company is strongly encouraging staff to take part in the strike but their attendance is not compulsory.

A photo from June 2019 showing dogs hauling a sled over a rapidly melted ice sheet during an expedition in northwest Greenland.
Steffen M. Olsen/Danish Meteorological Institute/ EPA

The company will also close its US stores for the strike, joining other retailers such as Patagonia, Lush Cosmetics, and personal care firm Seventh Generation.

Australian marketing agency Republic of Everyone is closing its business for the day. Founder Ben Peacock is encouraging his staff to attend the event and perhaps even take a volunteer role.

Other large organisations such as software giant Atlassian are making it as easy as possible for staff to attend.

Atlassian chief executive Mike Cannon-Brookes.
HOWORTH

Atlassian chief executive Mike Cannon-Brookes said the climate crisis “demands leadership and action … But we can’t rely on governments alone.”

Cannon-Brookes co-founded Not Business As Usual, an alliance of progressive Australian companies pushing for greater action on climate change. As of September 9, more than 230 companies had joined the alliance and pledged to allow employees to strike including Future Super, Canva and Bank Australia.

On climate, business is a broad church

Calls from the Australian business sector for climate action have grown louder as the threat worsens. The sector has also demanded long-term certainty to assist with investment decisions – particularly energy businesses and large power consumers such as manufacturers.

Operations at Ravensthorpe nickel mine in Western Australia, owned by BHP. The firm has called for stronger climate action.
BHP

However across the business community, research indicates that views are split on the need for stronger climate action.

Some parts of the business sector, such as insurance, reinsurance, financial services, renewable energy and energy efficiency have advocated for strong climate action early since the 1990s.




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Fossil fuel extraction industries, fossil fuel-driven electricity generation and vehicle manufacturers have, however, traditionally opposed strong emissions reduction targets.

There are exceptions. [Global mining company BHP], for example, is now calling for stronger action because it recognises that climate change is a huge global challenge that requires an urgent collaborative market and policy response.

Climate-aware investors are also calling on companies to act. They include superannuation giant HESTA, which recently demanded that Australian oil and gas companies Woodside and Santos link executive pay to reducing their emissions.

Advice for employees wanting to attend the strike

Of course, many employers will not be closing their doors for the climate strike and some workers will have to seek leave from their jobs to attend. The exact rules surrounding this will depend on individual awards or enterprise agreements.

In some cases employees may be able to negotiate an arrangement with their manager to enable them to participate in the strike.

Swedish schoolgirl and climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has inspired climate strikes around the world.
ALBA VIGARAY/EPA

While I strongly support the strike, I do not recommend “chucking a sickie” or not turning up for work so you can take part. That approach is likely to make your employer unhappy and leave them in the lurch.

I recommend that employees providing vital services, such as paramedics and the like, support the strike in ways other than leaving their duties. Supporting events in the lead-up to the strike can be found here.




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At the time of writing, 26 unions were listed on the Schoolstrike4climate website.

National Tertiary Education Union president Alison Barnes told me in an interview on September 4 that “the time for urgent action is now … we encourage people to take appropriate leave or make necessary arrangements with their employers to attend [the strike]”.The Conversation

Ian McGregor, Lecturer in Management, UTS Business School, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Holiday Update


My latest holiday plan has gone flop – the back packing holiday is a no-goer. Reason? It would seem from all reports that the Tops to Myalls Heritage Trail has been abandoned, with parts of the route now so overgrown as to be unrecognizable. I have been told of walkers in recent times having to back track a fair distance when the way ahead was no longer able to be walked. So as disappointing as it is I have abandoned the trail myself and will now do something else.

With time running out for a settled option, I have decided to fall back on an earlier idea and that is to visit the Cathedral Rocks National Park and possibly do some further walks at the Dorrigo National Park. I have booked a vehicle (car rental) for the trip so things are fairly settled now as far as the destination is concerned. I am now going to put some meat on the bones of my idea and draw up an itinerary, Google Map, etc. So some real detail of what I plan to do will be coming over the next few weeks.

This isn’t going to be an expensive holiday or a long one, but is mean’t to be a simple time-out break and one that will allow me to plan some much bigger holidays for later in the year and into the coming year also.

Holiday Planning: All out the Window


As my holiday draws closer my plans have changed yet again. Back in November 2009 I rolled my right ankle badly and it has not yet recovered to the extent that it would allow me to do a lot of bushwalking – especially on slopes. So this has meant a complete rethink of my upcoming 2 week holiday.

The theory of travelling to Wagga Wagga before heading to the New South Wales south coast has now been scrapped. I simply won’t be able to do the walking I had hoped to do.

Now I am looking at a road trip – and I’m not too sure just where the roads will actually take me. I will be on the road for 7 days and had thought that a quick trip to Kakadu was a possibility – but it would have to be a very quick trip (and probably without stopping). So that isn’t going to happen.

So what will happen? Not completely sure on that. I do plan to do the following however:

Day One – Dubbo

Day Two – Wagga Wagga

OK, so the above two days are still very similar to the original plan. It is after these two days that things have changed. Instead of turning to the east, I’ll be turning to the west. I just haven’t yet decided as to where.

Good News for Visitors to Uluru


303 There are always pros and cons when it comes to such issues as to whether or not people should be allowed to climb Uluru in the Northern Territory, Australia. To continue to allow visitors to climb the monolith is to go against the wishes of the traditional owners of the site (local aborigines), as well as to continue to impact on the local environs of the Uluru area.

Having said that however, the Uluru site is a site of major significance in Australia and to visitors the world over. If the site is looked after responsibly visitors should be able to climb the rock for many years to come with limited impact to the site.

Currently some 100 000 people climb the rock each year, though a number get no further than ‘chicken rock.’

Visitors will be able to continue to climb Uluru until such time as numbers dwindle significantly (to fewer than 20% of visitors climbing the rock), until such time as the climb is no longer the main reason for a visit to the rock or until a number of new visitor experiences (yet to be developed/thought out) are in place.

Holiday Planning: Progress is Being Made


I have been doing a little work on the planning side of things for my holiday. There have been some changes and these will be explained below.

Firstly, I have decided to push the holiday back a bit. There are a few public holidays during January 2010, so I think I can cope with a few extra weeks at work before needing the break. So instead of taking the holiday at the start of February, I am thinking of taking the holiday for two weeks in late February – early March 2010, or maybe a week or so later than that.

The later time for the holiday will also allow me to save for the trip and ensure I have everything I want for the holiday. I may even be able to get a digital video camera by then, which will be a great plus.

Secondly, the destination has also changed. I won’t be going out west as temperatures out that way are sure to be very hot and somewhat unbearable for any bushwalks I would want to do. The out west option will need to be looked at for a winter holiday (even though night temperatures are bound to be quite cold then). I do have a plan underway for that option also, which will probably mean a holiday in about August – September 2010 (but that is another story for another time). So to make sense of these two possible (probable) holidays in my Blog posts, the earlier holiday will be called the summer holiday 2010 and the later the winter holiday 2010.

So instead of going way out west for the summer holiday 2010, I’m thinking of going west a little (and to the south), before heading back to the southeast and travelling through the far southeast of New South Wales.

Are there any solid plans? Solid may not be quite the word for it, but I am settling on what I’d call a fairly sure itinerary for the first couple of days of summer holiday 2010. The date is certainly not fixed and that is really quite flexible at the moment. The itinerary for the first few days will probably be:

Day 1 Destination – Dubbo

Day 2 Destination – Conimbla National Park

Day 3 Destination – Wagga Wagga

So the next stage of planning will be to iron out the itinerary for these first three days before moving on towards my planned far southeast New South Wales travels.

For information on Conimbla National Park:

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/NationalParks/parkHome.aspx?id=N0053