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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

STUC opposes Trident as 'an extravagance and an irrelevance'

The STUC has renewed its call for Trident replacement to be abandoned and will revisit setting up Trade Union CND, focussing on job diversification for workers employed on Trident.

In a debate with major UNISON contributions from the union itself and several trade union councils, delegates rejected a GMB motion calling for Trident replacement as the ‘only game in town’ to defend jobs.

UNISON NEC policy chair Jane Carolan, in a rousing speech, supporting a Clydebank TUC motion, dubbed Trident: "An extravagance and an irrelevance" (see full text of her speech below).

UNISON activist Tom Morrison had moved the motion for Clydebank TUC, seconded by Arthur West from Kilmarnock and Loudon TUC. Both made reasoned, evidenced and devastating critiques of moral and economic case against Trident.

Kate Ramsden, speaking for Aberdeen TUC’s motion slammed the arms trade that sells weapons to repressive regimes.

She said: "Remember the bombardment of Gaza in 2014? The devastation wrought by Israeli bombs and missiles whose component parts were made at the Raytheon factory in Fife.

"Arms sales fuel conflict, support repression and make the world a more dangerous place for all of us, but especially those who through accident of birth, live in war zones or under oppression.

"And in the process, very rich people are becoming even richer on the backs of the suffering they create and care little for. It’s immoral, it’s obscene and it has to stop."
Jane Carolan’s speech to STUC against Trident Renewal

UNISON has a proud record of defending quality employment, defending high paid skilled jobs.

But we also have a record of standing up for international peace and solidarity, and believe that both on practical and principled reasons that the impact of Trident replacement would be catastrophic.

Practically it was the late Robin Cook of this parish who pointed out that the justification for Trident was at least 25 years out of date. The old cold war enemy of the Soviet Union has disintegrated
It is deceased
It is in fact a very dead parrot.
No other credible threat has emerged.

The world has changed and the threat that we now face makes nuclear weapons hopelessly irrelevant.
Indeed their very existence is futile - None of our wars has been won by them and none of our enemies deterred by them

And they are worse than useless in the terrorist threat we now face. How could our rented rockets ever have been deployed against outrages in Paris or Brussels?

Yet while we spend on Trident, conventional forces that contribute to peacekeeping security and
stability are cut.

Why then would we want to continue to build and hold nuclear weapons, when there are realistic alternatives?

The motion asserts that however defence diversification is too vague and not credible

But government figures that show that even if Trident were cancelled it would be 15 years before any jobs would go due to decommissioning.

15 years is a long time in employment terms. Ask any local government worker.

But there a wider principle here. Trident competes directly for public spending with our priorities as a movement. The further impact of cuts on public services should Trident be replaced would be catastrophic.

How many jobs in health in care in education would be scrapped?

And what of the 62,000 jobs that could be created if the annual running costs alone of Trident were used to build social housing and an energy efficient low carbon economy?

Politics is always about choices. Trident represents an excessive diversion of resources

UNISON has no qualms at all about saying that socially necessary spending that promotes quality of life for the majority is the principle that we stand for. We already see the consequences of major cuts in public spending and the effects that has in our communities and are campaigning to persuade our politicians to think again.

For the cost of Trident we could have 100,000 more firefighters
120,000 nurses
120,000 teachers

It is a gross misallocation of taxpayers' money, our money where there are so many more vital and constructive ways in which it could be spent. We need to highlight that Trident, a system designed never to be used is not only an irrelevance but an extravagance that will destroy our public services.

When the social fabric of our society is being torn up, it is impossible to justify support for the expensive and rather useless toy that is Trident.

Congress please oppose