STUC energy debates

Energy issues featured at this week’s STUC Congress in Perth.

The main composite addressed fuel poverty and argued that the solution was not tinkering with the market but rather a return to public ownership. Dundee Trades Union Council’s Raymond Mennie urged, “We want total control of the energy industry, to make sure it’s run and managed in the interests of our citizens and its workers.”

UNISON also argued that the government’s free market free-for-all had failed. UNISON Scotland’s Willie Docherty told congress that more than one in three households in Scotland are estimated to be in fuel poverty as a result of poor energy efficiency in their homes, low incomes and the high cost of fuel. He said, “UNISON Scotland totally rejects the idea that price competition alone is sufficient to assist those in greatest need. Instead it has exacerbated long-standing inequalities between low-income groups and more affluent customers. Let’s tell the politicians that they should not be on the side of the greedy profiteering energy companies and instead support the millions of ordinary workers struggling to heat their homes properly.”

Lesley McCallum from the STUC disabled committee told delegates statistics alone could not win over public opinion but that personal stories did. She said she knew of elderly people who spent hours in hospital waiting rooms just to stay warm, “They spent all their money on heating in the first few days and now there’s nothing left for the rest of the week.”

In a separate motion Congress called for further investment by both the Scottish and the UK Government in renewables and energy efficiency strategies. Supporting the emerging renewable industries and realistic targets and incentives for increased regeneration from renewable. However, as delegates said, this has to be as part of the STUC’s balanced energy policy.

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