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Society - 16.10.2019 klo 08.32

What can the trade unions do for the climate?

In her spare time, Sanni Vuorinen gets inspiration from nature and NGO work. As deputy chairman of JEF-Finland and board member of her student organisation, she gets to develop her interpersonal and communication skills. Photo: Anna Autio

Sanni Vuorinen is a shift manager at Hesburger in Turku. She encourages others to think about what climate change means for workers, and what the trade unions could do about it.

Influencing. I am studying policy research and I work as a shift manager in the restaurant sector. I have also been the occupational safety representative at my workplace. Influencing matters of common interest has always been important for me. In both my roles, as an occupational safety representative and a supervisor, my actions have contributed to creating a positive and safe environment at my workplace. This has caught on to others. I am currently doing an internship related to my studies at PAM central office, and as part of that I am doing a project on climate change together with other interns.

The importance of occupational safety. Whilst I was an occupational safety representative I understood how important it is to make sure that the workplace and the environment there are safe for everybody. For example, people in the restaurant sector work with hot, sharp and slippery surfaces. It is often busy at work and staff turnover is high. New employees in particular often have a lot of questions about their employment. They need support from the occupational safety representative.

Climate change. The discussion about climate change going on recently can provoke questions, fears and even anxiety, especially among young workers. I think occupational safety representatives could engage with employees on these subjects and develop their thinking. It isn’t all down to the occupational safety representatives, of course, but they can point to what their own workplace is doing about waste, recycling or energy-saving solutions. In public it is still being discussed at what level decisions and actions about climate change should be made and whose responsibility it is. Now we need to translate words into actions. Now it is urgent.

Employees’ interests. I am concerned about climate change and I am interested in how to combat it in a way that is fair for everyone. I think the trade unions should be actively involved and influence the climate change debate nationally and internationally. And in a way that takes employees’ interests into account in the actions to combat climate change. This must not be forgotten amongst all the other climate change-related objectives and policy actions.

Interested in becoming an occupational safety representative at your work place? 

Occupational safety representatives represent all employees in matters related to health and safety at work. Everyone is entitled to stand as a candidate in elections for occupational safety representatives and to participate in electing an occupational safety representative for their own workplace.

Read more about the election in Finnish