Oilpatch workers: Smarter than their bosses. Duh!


If you ever wondered whether workers can survive without bosses to think for them, get a load of the latest out of Alberta:

Workers from the troubled Alberta oilpatch want government help to retrain for jobs in the growing renewable energy sector.

A climate plan released Tuesday by Iron & Earth, an organization started last year by oil industry tradespeople, calls for short-term training and expanded apprenticeships, as well as retooling existing facilities to increase Canada’s renewable energy manufacturing.

The plan also proposes incubator programs for unions, contractors and others moving into the renewable energy sector, and using renewable technology in existing infrastructure.

“Oil and gas workers are ready to build the future that Canada needs, but we need support,” Iron & Earth executive director Lliam Hildebrand told a news conference.

Most tradespeople need little or no extra training to switch to the renewable field, he said in a later interview.

So yeah, you read that right: A cost-effective, environmentally-friendly way to get skilled workers out of the quicksand of the tar sands, and into sustainable energy production. And the workers came up with it themselves. Not the oil-company owners, those oh-so-brilliant “job creators” constantly being touted by right-wing media. THE WORKERS.

Of course, being as this is a conservative media piece, the article goes on to nay-say and nit-pick and pooh-pooh the idea a fair bit. But it fails to debunk the idea, and it does nothing at all to prove it has no merit.

And neither does it look at the bigger picture, the one besmirched by pollution and global warming.

Let’s face it: the oilpatch is dying, and it’s unsustainable no matter how much it claims to be “a good living” for the poor devils who got sucked out West with a lot of promises that have now proved to be emptier than an old oil tanker on the rails. Remember, they’re facing massive layoffs now that Saudi Arabia has (literally) tanked the price of oil, which had to be high for the tar sands to be economically viable. Ecologically, they were never viable. The Fort Mac wildfire has spooked everyone, and the town is no longer booming. (It wasn’t even before the fire.) And of course, the Dakota Access Pipeline project is under heavy criticism — and protest from not only the local indigenous peoples of Standing Rock, but also from outsiders as diverse as Jews and Palestinians.

This alternative is not only well worth looking into, it’s long overdue. It’s a win for everyone…except, of course, those dope-pushing oil barons who have been steering public policy on both sides of the 49th Parallel for far too long.

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