Australia's Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the national branch of Friends of the Earth have established an "Earthworker" program in a first conscious effort by unions to look at renewable projects hand-in-hand with green groups. David Kerin, ETU's welfare and environmental officer says the program "stems from the realisation that green technologies exist, make good sense and are viable options." Earthworker's objectives are the fostering of labour, environmental groups and "green" companies towards providing energy solutions for the future. Kerin says the union's involvement is to help create jobs for redundant and sacked electricity workers. "The ETU sees the renewable sector as offering clean, sustainable jobs and wants workers integrated into the whole vision and not factored in as commodities, as they are often treated today." The federal government's decision to mandate 2% of renewables in electricity supplies (Windpower Monthly, January 2000) is a start but can be upgraded over time, he adds. "It is a lie to use the old jobs-versus-environment argument as an excuse [for continued investment in coal-fired power]," says Kerin.
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