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GMB Congress On Onshore Fracking

Monday, June 8, 2015

GMB Congress Debate On Monday 8th June On Onshore Fracking For Shale Gas To Supply Gas Needed For Decades To Come

If there is a plentiful supply of UK shale gas is it not a moral duty for Britain to provide for our own gas needs from those supplies rather than importing gas from elsewhere asks CEC statement carried by Congress.

GMB Congress in Dublin today (June 8th) voted for a statement from the Central Executive Council (CEC) on onshore fracking for shale gas which recognised that gas will continue to play a crucial role in the development of a low carbon economy and be part of a balanced energy mix. The statement also recognised that recruiting and organising gas workers, which has been a core activity for the union since 1889, should continue to be so in the future should the shale gas industry develop to supply a significant proportion of the gas that Britain needs.

The 98th GMB Congress with 500 delegates, representing 639,000 members from every sector in the economy all over the UK and Ireland, is underway in the Citywest Conference Centre in Dublin from Sunday 7 June to Thursday 11 June 2015. See notes to editors for more details about the 2015 Congress.

There will be a lunchtime fringe meeting at 12.45pm on June 8th with GMB and UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) on “Where should Britain get it’s gas from?” Speakers include  Professor Peter Styles, Professor of Applied and Environmental Geophysics, Keele University  speaking on The Geology and Technical Realities of Shale Gas, Mark Lappin, Director of Exploration and Subsurface, Centrica Energy and Colette Cohen, Senior Vice President, Centrica Energy. A Charter will be signed at that meeting by Gary Smith for GMB and Ken Cronin from UKOOG. This will be release to the media after that meeting.

Gary Smith, GMB National Secretary for Energy and Utilities, said as he moved the CEC statement “Gas will remain crucially important in meeting Britain’s future energy needs. The simple truth is that the UK will be using gas for many decades to come. Over 80% of homes in the UK are heated by gas.

The issue for Britain isn’t therefore whether we will use gas or not. We will. The real issue is where we will get our gas from, and who should take the moral responsibility for extracting and supplying the gas we use.

As both the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the independent UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) have recognised, gas has an important part to play in Britain reducing our carbon emissions.

In fact, the future role of gas could be even more crucial in lowering CO2 emissions in Britain, through the development of micro combined heat and power units to produce heat and electricity for homes. Fuel cells which have zero carbon emissions will have a huge role to play in the future, and these will need gas too.

Our energy intensive industries need access to affordable, secure energy supplies. They need the certainty that Britain’s energy mix will meet their needs. They, like Britain’s households, need gas to be part of that energy mix.

The debate about fracking must be based upon complete honesty about the economic realities of gas. A number of questions arise as follows:

- Is it acceptable for Britain to import gas from countries where the safety, environmental and regulatory standards are lower than in Britain?

- Should gas be imported from states where there is no civil society, no right to protest and where workers are denied basic trade union rights?

- Is it kinder to the environment for gas to be transported for thousands of miles across continents and oceans before we use it here in Britain?

If exploratory drilling reveals a plentiful supply of UK shale gas reserves, is it not a moral duty for Britain to take responsibility for providing for our own gas needs from those supplies, rather than importing gas from elsewhere?

GMB’s position on fracking must therefore be consistent with the need to organise the shale gas industry if it does develop, as well our duty to protect the future of the UK gas industry and the thousands of GMB members it currently employs.

If onshore fracking for shale gas does develop from its current exploratory status into an industry which will be supplying a significant proportion of the gas that Britain needs, GMB will need every ounce of our organising expertise and commitment to safeguard the workers in the industry. The CEC believes that anything less than protecting these workers from exploitation in a fledgling industry, as we did with gasworkers 126 years ago, would be a betrayal of our history and moral responsibility.”


Contact: Gary Smith, GMB National Secretary on 07710 618909 or GMB Press Office on 07921 289880 or 07974 251823.

Notes to editors

About GMB Congress 2015

GMB Congress is open to the media with the necessary credentials. Journalists who require media credentials should contact Charlotte Gregory, GMB Press Office on or 020 7391 6751.

GMB is the direct successor to the Gas Workers & General Union formed in London 126 years ago 1889 by Will Thorne. The union spread like wild fire across Britain and Ireland on winning the eight hour day. In 1891 the second largest branch was in Dublin.

GMB Congress is being held in Dublin for the second time. The 2nd Congress in 1891 in Dublin committed to union to secure equal pay for women and elected co-founder Eleanor Marx to the national executive committee.

It will be webcast live on the GMB national website at GMB Congress documents are online on GMB website in the area for GMB members only. Journalists attending the Congress will be supplied with all Congress documents on arrival.

GMB can supply live feed and recorded highlights to media outlets by arrangement.
Among the guests who will address GMB Congress are: President of Ireland Michael D Higgins; Government Business Minister Gerald Nash TD, ACAS chair Sir Brendan Barber,  Gilberth Bermudez from Costa Rica who leads the Latin American banana workers, and MPs Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Mary Creagh and Liz Kendall who will take part in a Hustings on Tuesday 9th June at 2pm as part  of the UK Labour Party leadership election



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