Transitioning to a Low-Carbon Economy

'Just Transition: Exactly What’s in it for Workers?'

In recent years the goal of Just Transition has received a lot of attention in Canada and internationally. Yet there are surprisingly few ground-level examples of it being done well. Often when industries are closed down, the consequences for workers and their communities are an after-thought.

Coal is a major energy source used around the world. It is also recognized as a main source of greenhouse gas, and action to shift away from coal-fired electricity production and towards cleaner energy is beginning to happen globally, but is not happening fast enough. Many experts believe that coal generation needs to be phased out as soon as technically possible, regardless of coal reserves, and that any use of fossil fuels including natural gas (aka methane) to generate electricity will have to end globally by 2040.

'Just Transition: Exactly What’s in It for Workers' involves four case studies on the phase-out of coal in Canada and Australia, each with a short narrative of what exactly was offered to workers when such transitions occur.

In 4 case studies of Just Transition programs for workers affected by the closure of coal plants in Canada (Ontario, Alberta) and Australia ( LaTrobe Valley, Victoria and Port Augusta South Australia) a number of  programs have been put in place to assist workers and their communities to adjust to plant closures. 

The four case studies will be posted here when they are complete.

The Labour Education Centre has developed the Seven R’s to categorize these programs, which may occur in other cases of Just Transition.

1)  Relocation of workers within the same employer (Usually involves travel to another community, can include travel allowances, real estate price adjustments to sell houses and buy new ones.

2)  Rehabilitation of the worksite (to close, mothball, dismantle and/or restore the surrounding environment. Most of these jobs are short term

3)  Re-employment in local area jobs (usually at the employees’ own initiative)

4)  Re-training for a new Profession (sometimes with the same company, but usually not, and usually with few guarantees of a placement in the new skill)

5)  Retirement – early retirement bridging to a certain age or years of services or a combination of both.

6)  Redundancy Payments (lump sum payments, often up to 1 year base salary)

7)  Reinvestment in Affected Communities

A Greener Future for Workers...

For more information please contact Karen Lior: