Editorial

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Taking charge of the Just Transition?

Much of this issue focuses on the Just Transition (JT). Depending on who you talk to or what you read, this can be a narrow transition just around energy to deal with the climate crisis or a much wider and deeper transition that transforms deep down to the very roots of the economy. 

Are trade unions and communities taking charge of this narrative to ensure that there is deep transformation? Let us know what you think.

The JT in energy

Navigating the JT means being aware of the rapidly changing structure of the electricity industry. Dinga Sikwebu questions whether labour is moving fast enough to deal with these changes.

The Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) is a new tripartite structure separate from NEDLAC that is tasked with getting parties to build a social compact around the climate transition. Woodrajh Aroun investigates where the PCC comes from, its tasks and who sits on it. He also grills two PCC labour members, Mbulaheni Mbodi and Mac Chavalala, to find out their views of its work.

PCC executive director, Crispian Olver, who shares his hopes and vision for building this social compact and appeals to stakeholders to help find common ground.

Ebrahim-Khalil Hassen challenges trade unions to stop being caught up in disinformation peddled by various parties around the issue of the JT and instead to build alliances and alternatives and take control of the concept of the JT for the benefit of workers.

It’s rare to hear the voices of those that have lost jobs when coal-mines have closed or of those that live in communities (mostly in Mpumalanga) where coal is mined. In this article we reproduce a transcript from a webinar in which a retrenched coal-miner, a community environmental activist living in the same township and two union officials organising in the area spell out the challenges and hardships.

The Eskom Social Compact was meant to smooth the transition for those that lose jobs through coal-mine and power station closures. However, NUMSA Eskom shop steward, Mbulaheni Mbodi, claims that it is not helping and that NUMSA was never a part of it.

Communities that resist moves by mining companies to mine in their areas are coming under increasing attack, reports Jenny Grice. But a growing eco-politics movement could change all this.

Toxic capitalism is the cause of the climate crisis says Jacklyn Cock and only a complete overhaul of this system will lead us out of the crisis that we find ourselves in.

Neva Makgetla unpacks the intricacies of coal, its costs, benefits and who calls the shots.

Solar panels on rooftops fed into the municipal grid is the answer to the energy crisis, say Patrick Brennan and Janet Cherry.

While many are full of gloom and doom over the expectations of COP26 and the realities of what was achieved, Lebogang Mulaisi and James Bartholomeusz report on some bright lights. 

The JT—more than just energy

Informal workers are often ignored in the climate crisis and yet they are affected just as much if not more so. Renaldi Prinsloo describes an initiative to empower southern African informal workers while Chris Bonner reports on research with informal workers in South Asia that clearly shows how climate change is detrimentally affecting them.

Every day reclaimers, most of them informal, collect millions of tons of waste that would otherwise end up in landfills. Reclaimer Luyanda Hlatshwayo appeals to the City of Joburg to work with them so that millions more tons can be reclaimed.

An unjust, unsustainable and unhealthy food system that contributes massively to carbon emissions and damages the land on which crops are grown, must be transformed, says Brittany Kesselman. Replacing this vast food network chain with small localised options is the way to go. 

There is much research showing that public transport can help in the climate crisis by reducing emissions. However currently as Sinqobile Akin and Andiswa Kona report, commuters, especially women, risk their lives when they take public transport. More will have to be done to make it safer so as to entice more commuters.

Long time NUMSA trade unionist, Christine Olivier, talks to Neo Bodibe after her recent election as assistant general secretary of international trade union, IndustriALL.

Khanya College remembers the life of veteran labour activist, Oupa Lehulere.

Jenny Grice

Guest Editor

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Jenny Grice
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