12 April, 2022Armenia is phasing out fossil fuels and planning to construct solar power plants, which creates new jobs and opens organizing opportunities for unions. With the support of Danish union 3F, IndustriALL held a workshop to highlight the role of unions in a Just Transition in Yerevan, Armenia, on 31 March.
Currently, around 40 per cent of the energy produced in Armenia is green, since it is produced at a nuclear plant without CO2 emissions. Another 20 per cent of the energy comes from hydropower. This, however, is seasonal, and Armenia has an agreement with Iran on a mutual exchange of energy depending on the season.
Workshop participants stressed that unions need to have a seat at the table to make working conditions a mandatory topic when discussing a Just Transition to renewable energy. The documents for tenders for the construction of new solar power plants contain reference to environmental safety as well as the least required technical characteristics. However, the tender process does not pay any attention to social issues, like decent wages and health and safety. Trade unions need to petition the government to include chapters related to social issues.
Through the Confederation of Trade Unions of Armenia and the ITUC, unions should also petition international financial institutions that provide loans for the implementation of energy programmes and other projects with similar requirements and proposals, to include a chapter on social issues, agreed upon with trade unions. This is to ensure that projects are not realized at the expense of workers’ low wages, which will deprive Armenia of the opportunity to ever reach the decent wages level.
Diana Junquera Curiel, IndustriALL energy director, spoke on a new joint initiative by ITUC, LO Norway and IndustriALL for a Just Transition in the energy sector.
Sophia Schönborn, IG BCE trade union secretary, spoke about Germany's experience in phasing out coal mining and measures to support workers from the late 1950s until the end of underground coal mining in 2018. A budgetary expenditure of €40 billion is planned over the next 20 years to create new industries, technology and research clusters in the mining districts, modern infrastructure, new jobs, training programmes for new job skills and an early retirement scheme to reduce negative impacts on workers, regions and communities.
IndustriALL has three affiliates in Armenia: Industry Workers' Union of Armenia, Electric Trade Union of the Republic of Armenia, and Branch Union of Trade Union Organizations of Miners, Metallurgists and Jewelers of Republic of Armenia.