IUF's General Secretary Sue Longley: Green programmes mean enhancing permanent and decent jobs for the workforce
"In order to understand what companies are trying to do, you need to understand environmental impacts and how to negotiate around that", IUF’s General Secretary Sue Longley points out.
The IUF's leader Sue Longley is identifying the biggest challenges that the global tourism and hotel sector is facing in terms of climate change. She points out green programmes and fair working conditions go hand in hand.
Understanding the impact on the climate. Some of the sectors within IUF (food, agricultural, hotel, restaurant and catering etc.) are facing significant challenges concerning carbon emissions and their impact on climate. This is a concern across all IUF sectors, not just in tourism. In order to understand what companies are doing with this, you need to understand the environmental impacts and as unions how to negotiate around that.
Sustainable tourism. The vulnerability of the climate has a direct impact on local tourism and people's working conditions – a typhoon wiping out a hotel or floods destroying a plantation. Take the Bahamas for example, where the tourism sector is destroyed for the immediate future. It has a very direct impact. We should be able to use the leverage there, and to have an engaged discussion about what is sustainable tourism and how we can move towards it. The IUF is also working on a just tourism website, which focuses on hotels that have union contract recognition.
Corporate responsibility. There is an awareness about the climate change, and at the same time, it provides us, as a global union representing workers in the hotel sector, with an opportunity to push the companies to be serious in their commitments. More hotels are being franchised and the relationship between the owner and the brand is quite complicated to follow. Therefore, the brands have to be sure that the people who are managing their hotels are also taking responsibility. Working on that, and making sure that companies are responsible, is essential.
Genuine green programmes and no greenwash. A number of IUF's affiliates are concerned that companies are claiming to have green programmes, but in reality, there is a lot of pressure on hotel staff, whereas housekeepers have bigger workloads, more erratic and more precarious work. Green programmes have to be examined in detail, so that we can challenge them and some of the false claims. As unions, we can if needed propose genuine real programmes that would affect change in the environment and not the greenwash. Working on green programmes also means enhancing permanent decent jobs for the workforce. For example, by outsourcing all of the housekeeping – housekeepers employed by agencies – companies may contradict the values what they are claiming in their green programmes. What it comes down to is pushing the companies to be serious about their employment policies.
The IUF's General Secretary Sue Longley visited the Service Union United PAM Finland yesterday. Longley is the first female elected General Secretary for the organisation headquartered in Geneva. IUF is short for The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations. The IUF is composed of 421 affiliated trade unions in 127 countries representing over 10 million workers. Read more here.