The trade union Unite has informed Sir Keir Starmer that any strategy to halt new North Sea oil and gas ventures must not result in “paying the price” for employees.
Unite, the largest individual donor to the party, warned the Labour leader that taking this action might result in a “repeat of the devastation” brought on by the closing of coal mines.
According to reports, Sir Keir is due to make the announcement when he outlines his net-zero energy policy next month. However, the decision has drawn criticism from the party’s trade union supporters who are worried about the effects it will have on employees.
The government is committed to additional North Sea oil and gas licenses, according to Graham Stuart, minister of climate change and net zero, who made this statement earlier this month.
On Wednesday, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham criticized Sir Keir and said that the proposal was missing key information.
“Grabbing the headlines is easy, developing a serious plan for more renewable energy is not,” she said.
“When Keir Starmer decided to let the world know that he would halt new oil and gas production in the North Sea he left out everything that was important – the detail.
“Labour must now be very clear that they will not let workers pay the price for the transition to renewable energy. When it comes to jobs we can’t have jam tomorrow.”
The president of one of the biggest unions in the UK, Ms. Graham, charged that the Labour leadership had acted irresponsibly by failing to present a clear strategy to safeguard jobs.
She warned that if Labour’s plan is poorly thought out, it might have a similar effect to the widespread shutdown of the coal mining sector in the second half of the 20th century.
The Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher and the striking miners engaged in a harsh and lengthy standoff as a result of closures in the 1980s.
“We cannot have a repeat of the devastation wrought on workers and their communities by the closure of the coal mines. It is reckless in the extreme to talk about halting this industry without offering a coherent, fully funded plan for jobs,” Ms Graham said.
“A workers’ transition plan for the North Sea must involve three things. First, it needs to put workers in the industry, and their communities, front and centre. It must be carried out with their full involvement and guarantee decent jobs for all involved with no loss of pay and conditions.
“Second, it will require substantial investment. We have yet to see Labour, or any political party, commit to the serious amounts that will be needed.”
Ms. Graham stated that her union wants democratic governance and public ownership of the energy sector regardless of changes.
“We cannot trust the private sector, whose only concern is squeezing every last drop of profit out of the UK’s remaining oil and gas reserves, to deliver for workers and communities.
“Britain’s recent economic history is littered with political betrayals and broken promises that have left industrial workers on the scrap heap. That is why workers need to take charge of their own destiny,” she said.
In addition to the dispute with a significant party donor, Sir Keir is being questioned about donations from British businessman Dale Vince, who is also a significant supporter of the environmental activist group Just Stop Oil.
According to documents submitted to the Electoral Commission, Mr. Vince, the creator of the green energy company Ecotricity, has donated almost £1.5 million to Labour over the past ten years.
Conservative MPs criticized Labour over the donations and demanded that the party return the funds.