Powerful blue collar unions are urging Labor to show greater unity on energy policy by strongly supporting coal and gas.

Mining and manufacturing officials have given a presentation to more than 30 Labor members and senators about the need to support the fossil fuels, arguing they would be required for years to come.

The officials warned Labor would continue to lose the support of blue collar workers unless some outspoken federal caucus members toned down their anti-coal and gas rhetoric.

Labor senator Penny Wong was not at the presentation but put a vastly different spin on the take-out message.

“What struck me about those reports is those unions also recognise the importance of, and the imperative of, moving to net zero emissions,” she told ABC radio on Thursday.

“The discussion was about how that transition occurs, and obviously gas particularly is part of that transition to a greater reliance on renewables.”

Senator Wong said it was also a reminder unions were in lock step with some of Australia’s largest trading partners in pursuing net zero emissions.

“This really demonstrates the Morrison government is increasingly isolated when it comes to climate change,” she said.

“People around the world and leaders of unions recognise that net zero, which is a target that Labor Party caucus has all agreed to, is required.”

Labor is divided over fossil fuels and the party’s equivocation over the Adani coal mine cost it dearly at the last election.