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Election / Labour candidate confident over party’s energy plans despite union concern

LABOUR’s Northern Isles election candidate says the party will work with trade unions on a just transition after Unite expressed concern over an “irresponsible” policy to ban new licences for oil and gas exploration.

Conor Savage said he is confident Labour can oversee a transition away from fossil fuels that “allows for the transfer of skills to ensure those currently in the energy sector retain high-paid jobs, through their skilled work”.

He was responding to union Unite launching a campaign in Scotland earlier this month called No Ban Without a Plan.

The union wants to see Labour – who have been topping the national polls ahead of the July election – drop its plans to block new licences for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea until a “genuine programme for the just transition of work is operational”.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Labour needs to pull back from this irresponsible policy. There is clearly no viable plan for the replacement of North Sea jobs or energy security.

“We should not be letting go of one rope until we have hold of another. These types of transitions must have workers at the heart.

Scottish Labour’s general election candidate Conor Savage.

“Unite will not stand by and let workers be thrown on the scrapheap. North Sea workers cannot be sacrificed on the altar of net zero.”

Conor Savage, Scottish Labour’s candidate for Orkney and Shetland in the 4 July election, told Shetland News in response: “If elected, Labour will set up Great British Energy, a publicly owned clean power company, to create good jobs and cut bills for good, paid for by a windfall tax on oil and gas giants.

“Headquartered in Scotland, Great British Energy will invest in cheap, clean, homegrown energy, to ensure that jobs and supply chains are built here in the UK, rebuilding the strength of British industry.

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“Labour will work with Unite and other trade unions to bring forward a just transition that protects workers, but at the same time, ensures Labour delivers on its commitment to net zero.

“Unite recognises that the UK is crying out for change, and I remain confident that Labour will deliver a just transition, that allows for the transfer of skills to ensure those currently in the energy sector retain high-paid jobs, through their skilled work.

“Labour’s plan will grow our economy and make Britain energy independent; five more years of the Tories will mean higher bills for families, our country exposed to oil and gas prices controlled by dictators like Putin, and more jobs going overseas.”

Meanwhile shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray MP said: “The skills and expertise of the North Sea are central to Labour’s plans to make Scotland a clean energy superpower.

“The SNP and the Tories have failed workers time and time again by letting energy jobs go abroad, and they are selling out workers and communities again by leaving the oil and gas industry without a plan.

“It’s absolutely right that there needs to be a comprehensive plan on jobs, and that’s exactly what Labour is offering.

“Workers are at the heart of our transformative plans for a publicly-owned GB Energy company, a National Wealth Fund, a British Jobs Bonus, and a New Deal for Working People.

“Working together with workers, industry and trade unions, Labour will deliver the greatest investment in the future of the North Sea in a generation.

“Only Labour is committed to unlocking Scotland’s potential as a clean energy superpower and delivering good jobs, lower bills and greater energy security.”

The general election will take place on Thursday 4 July.

Also publicly announced so far for the Northern Isles seat are: Alex Armitage (Greens), Alistair Carmichael (Liberal Democrats), Robert Leslie (SNP), Shane Painter (Conservatives), Robert Smith (Reform).

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