October 26, 2018
From October 8 to 11, 2018, representatives from 15 countries throughout the Americas met in San José, Costa Rica, for the Third Regional Conference on Energy, Environment and Work. The meeting, convened by the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA-CSA), brought together 20 trade union centers affiliated to TUCA and 4 which are fraternal, 7 continental social movements, 4 civil society organizations and 5 universities.
For three days, the group discussed how to respond to the predatory and repressive actions of mining and drilling companies across the continent. There was unanimous support expressed for “Democratization of Energy” and “De-Privatization” and the recovery of sovereignty over resources. The meeting issued the following declaration:
A delegation of trade unionists from the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas will be bringing a strong pro-public message to the UN climate change negotiations in Katowice, Poland, in December this year.
From the Declaration:
Democratization of Energy
We must conceive of energy as a fundamental right for a country’s entire population and, as such, it must be defended as a public service. This right is essential if people are to exercise their fundamental human and social rights, their integration into social life, and uphold their dignity.
The first demand of the working class is to end energy poverty. That is, ensure that everyone have access to the energy required to maintain basic standards of family life and mobility. Our income must not be corroded by the expenses incurred to cover said basic needs.
We affirm the need to democratize energy, because we understand that far from being just a debate between state planners, sector technicians and managers of large companies, it has to be society, through democratic and transparent mechanisms of popular participation, who define what energy we want to develop, how, for what purposes and for whom, and in doing so question, among other things, the excessive consumption patterns of the elites. It is not enough to discuss changes in the energy mix, we must debate the energy policy in relation to our desired vision for national and regional development.
Given this vision, the labor movement together with grassroots organizations has an affirmative agenda:
De-privatization of the sector, given that the logic of private profit is opposed to the logic of satisfying the needs of peoples and nations;
Recovery of sovereignty over our resources and common goods, breaking commitments that require accepting systems of impunity for large transnational companies that operate in the energy sector or that use it intensively in our countries and territories while taking advantage of free trade agreements and investment protections;
Discussion regarding the role and application of technology within a democratically-decided national project. We must not accept technological determinisms imposed and manipulated by corporate interests nor that, under the pretext of transition, reinforce dependence on technological development centers in the Global North;
We must increasingly move towards the de-commodification and de-fossilization of our energy matrix, from a vision of transition based on democratic, social, and environmental justice.