September's Climate Strikes bring out 7 million across the world: UK round up

Between the two global climate strike days of 20th September and 27th September, an estimated 7 million took part around the world. This is the first time that the global school strikes movement had called formally on adults to join them. Pictures above are from London and Glasgow (as trade unionists with banners awaited the arrival of a 10,000 strong march). 

Ahead of the UN climate summit in New York on 23 September, 4 million took part in protests in 185 countries, and on all continents, including AntarcticaAustralia, whose young people were the first to hold a national school strike in November 2018, was one of the first, breaking records again, with an estimated 350,000 turning out, supported by 33 unions and 2,500 businesses. There were strikes across Asia and Africa. In Moscow, a small group of activists took turns holding signs one at a time, due to Russia’s restrictive laws on public protest, while 250,000 gathered in New York.

The second strike day, on 27th September, started with 170,000 joining the New Zealand Climate Strike (3.5% of the country's population). It saw major strikes in many European countries including one million taking part in Italy. In Santiago, Chile, host country of this year's UN climate summit, 100,000 marched for the climate, and the organisers of the march in Montreal say 500,000 took part making it the largest single climate protest ever held.

Internationally, a range of unions and federations, including the UK's TUC and the ITUC spoke out in support of the climate strikes. 

Our trade union group has collected some of the pictures from this extraordinary day of action around the UK.


Over 200 climate strike events were held in the UK. Many cities across the UK turned out in force - for example shown above, some of the estimated 7000 in Brighton and 5000 in Sheffield.

In many of these, union branches had been working hard to support youth organisers in their area, working with other community activists. UCU, the University and College Union, brought a motion to TUC calling for a 30 minute stoppage in solidarity with the student strikes. Whilst the motion was amended, the final motion to support the strikes with a '30 minute work day action' was passed unanimously, helping to get more union activists out on the day.


The most powerful voices on the day were those of the young people leading this movement, shown above are Noga Levy-Rapoport in London and Beth Irving speaking among a crowd of young people in Cardiff. But trade union representatives also spoke in solidarity at many of the rallies. In London general secretaries of two education unions - Kevin Courtney of NEU and Jo Grady of UCU - addressed the crowds.

Suzanne Jeffery of the Campaign against Climate Change also spoke, congratulating the thousands of trade unionists who had taken action in solidarity with students. and introducing Ana Joaquim of PCS Union. Ana spoke, representing the outsourced workers at BEIS, the Department for Energy and Industrial Strategy, who are on strike for the London Living Wage, about how these struggles are connected. They are shown below marching from their picket line down to the rally - their slogan "For a Living Wage and a Living Planet". Also in London, 150 culture workers from different institutions joined forces on the South Bank, heading over Westminster Bridge to join climate strikers in Millbank. 

You can see an inspiring round up of the day in this video of the London protest.


PCS union members supported the strike across the country. The pictures below show PCS branches in Dundee and Cardiff.


The National Education Union (NEU) shared with members ideas of how schools could support students to participate in the climate strike, including sending delegations to events and holding activities at school. Below are students and teachers from Stoke Newington School, attending the demonstration in central London, and Eco Ambassadors from Thomas Buxton Primary sharing their ideas with friends about keeping our world safe.


UCU members also turned out in force to stand with their students - pictures below from Oxford, Leeds, Northampton and Derry. This was replicated in many more cities across the UK - lots of pictures on the UCU wall of climate action here!



UCU and Unison activists in universities have worked together - pictures from SOAS in London and the rally outside the University of Southampton.


Unison local authority branches challenged local authorities to respond to the climate strike, particularly where councils had themselves passed climate emergency motions. Below are photos from the rally  outside Salford town hall where council workers were addressed by youth campaigners (before many went on to the protest in central Manchester), and at Portsmouth Guildhall - the UNISON branch at the city council  secured council agreement for staff to join a midday rally in the square using 30 minutes of paid leave from work plus reasonable travel time.


More UNISON members shown below - in Liverpool, where Liverpool and Hope universities branch joined the strike and North West regional convenor Paula Barker was among the speakers. And also in the northernmost strike event in the UK - in Shetland, a rural area where the impacts of climate change are felt the most.


Shown below, Unison members in York and from Leeds Teaching Hospitals, highlighting the health impacts of climate change. A few more pictures of Unison branches in support around the country here.


Healthcare workers showing support for the climate strike in London, and in one of several GP practices in the Highlands marking the day (video of global participation by Medact)


Before the climate strike, firefighter Riccardo LaTorre recorded a call to action, with firefighters in the UK in the frontline of increasingly severe wildfires and floods, he's shown below at the climate strike in Chelmsford, Essex.

RMT members shown below in Plymouth, and also with one of the iconic London Underground boards.


Unite members below bringing some energy to the London rally.


The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) supported the strike, as a member of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). The IFJ has suggested unions, media workers and trade unionists should ask media employers to reflect and adopt internal policies and editorial guidelines to tackle climate change and tell the truth.

CWU members in East Oxford shown supporting the climate strike at their gate meeting

In several London boroughs, trade unions were key in organising town hall rallies - pictures below from Hackney, Islington and Brixton, and Camden council workers arriving at Millbank following a rally organised by Camden Unison and attended by many workers from surrounding offices in Kings Cross.



In Tower Hamlets borough, gatherings included a march from Queen Mary University of London to the East London Mosque, blocking Mile End road and highlighting  air pollution and its health impacts in the area. University students and staff were joined by primary school children and local health workers and residents.


In many areas, different unions have come together to mobilise through Trades Councils, or even set up new networks - for example 'Trade Unions NE Supporting Climate Strikes' helped turn out around 2000 in Newcastle. Spot the union banners there and in the crowd of thousands in Manchester!