Rarely a month goes by when we hear, particularly from business leaders, that the trade union movement is becoming increasingly irrelevant. The message from business leaders is often the same (although often masking a hidden agenda): add value to our business or we don't want to know. In itself suggesting the only use for trade unions at the start of the twentieth century is to make capitalism more efficient.
Well, if we are to believe the article Labouring for a greener planet, by Klaus Toepfer writing on behalf of BBC News: Science/Nature, then they are very much part of the future.
Examples of how useful unions are in such situations includes campaigns about the use of dangerous chemicals and the introduction of cleaner production techniques. In effect, the "common thread running through these and numerous other pilots in both the developed and developing world is organised labour."
Further points made in the article suggests the trade union movement no longer believes environmental protection jeopardises jobs and that organised labour can be a powerful catalyst for change, persuading employers and companies to be more environmentally responsible and resource efficient.
The question is whether employers can be convinced of this and in the current climate I just can't see it happening.