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Workers and environmentalists of the world unite? Exploring red-green politics in union support for Heathrow expansion

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Maya Goodfellow, Nithya Natarajan

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationClimate Change in the Global Workplace
Subtitle of host publicationLabour, Adaptation and Resistance
EditorsNithya Natarajan, Laurie Parsons
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781000377880
ISBN (Print)9780367422325
Published3 May 2021

Publication series

NameRoutledge Advances in Climate Change Research

King's Authors


This chapter explores Unite’s decision to back Heathrow airport’s expansion and uses this case as a focal point from which to understand the complex dynamics of how concerns of climate change and labour relations are articulated within organised labour in the UK. It will briefly explore the existing and future impacts of climate change in the UK, and its effects on the working poor in particular. It goes on to interrogate arguments made by trade unions backing Heathrow expansion. We suggest that union response highlights a dissonance between the material realities of climate change and its impacts upon UK workers, and the way it is perceived in relation to a normative conceptualisation of the typical British unionised worker. We ultimately argue that unions need to look beyond their perceived supporter base in remaining salient as a political force, and embrace a more holistic vision of the worker and the role of the union. This means acknowledging how the workforce and working relations are transforming in the current era.

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