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GMB On Trident Successor Programme

Monday, January 11, 2016

GMB To Convene Conference For Union Representatives In Workplaces Involved In Trident Successor Programme

There are tens of thousands of jobs involved in Britain and workers in over 50 sites and we want their voices to be heard says GMB.

GMB, the union for defence workers, commented on reports that the leader of the Labour Party wants to change party policy on Trident.

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, on the BBC World at One, said “The Labour Party policy at the moment, reaffirmed at the party conference recently, is the renewal of Trident. Now, Jeremy’s perfectly entitled to say he wants to change that policy, but he needs to go through the same democratic process that arrived at that policy in the first place.

What we’re about to do actually is to call a conference of the workers. I think everybody keeps talking about the wonderful principles of Trident, but there are tens of thousands of jobs involved in Britain and workers.

There are about 50 sites around the UK whose livelihoods depend on defence contracts, and we’re going to ask those people what they think about the Labour Party effectively shutting down their jobs and we want their voices heard in this debate.

There are rules about how party policy is changed. This issue of a mandate, I don’t recall any speech anywhere where someone said ‘I’m standing on the platform that I will do what I want when I want, irrespective of what the rules of Labour Party are’. Let’s just get back to the basics: of course people are entitled to want to change policy, why not? That’s how it evolves, but there is a process and there are rules and if anybody thinks that unions like the GMB are going to go quietly into the night where tens of thousands of our members jobs are literally swannied away by rhetoric then they’ve got another shock coming.”

End.

Contact: Gary Smith on 07710 618909 or 0141 332 8641 or Cathy Speight 07506 711925 or Dave Hulse 08791 266157 or Jim Moohan 07885 868405 or GMB press office 07921 289880

Notes to editors

Copies of previous GMB press releases

1 GMB press release dated 2nd November 2015.

GMB Scotland Brand Vote Against Trident Renewal At Scottish Labour Conference As Alice In Wonderland Politics Promising Pie In The Sky Jobs

We will not play politics on this and we will stand up for our defence workers and their communities right across the UK says GMB Scotland.

GMB Scotland, the union for shipyard and defence workers, responded to the vote at the Scottish Labour Party Conference in Perth on 1st November on the future of UK defences and against the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent. See notes to editors for a copy of GMB Scotland press release dated 26th October.

Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Acting Secretary, said “GMB Scotland members in defence related jobs are very disappointed with the vote by the Scottish Labour Party Conference against Trident renewal.

It is based on Alice in Wonderland politics promising pie in the sky alternative jobs for workers who are vital to our national security.

GMB Scotland will not play politics on this and will stand up for our defence workers and their communities’ right across the UK.

We are heartened with the level of support from constituency delegates for these workers shown during the debate and are grateful for that support"

2 Copy of GMB press release dated 26th October.

SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY AND SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT MUST GET REAL ON 40,000 SCOTTISH DEFENCE JOBS AS SCOTTISH LABOUR CONFERENCE DEBATES TRIDENT RENEWAL

For all the talk about diversification the reality will not be more schools or hospitals but yard and factory closures, job losses and rising levels of poverty says GMB Scotland

GMB Scotland, the union for shipyard and defence workers, has written to members in the defence sector in advance of a likely debate at the Scottish Labour Party Conference starting in Perth on 30th October on the future of UK defences and the Trident nuclear deterrent. See notes to editors copy of GMB Scotland letter dated 26th October and for list of defence suppliers in Scotland by area.

Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Acting Secretary, said “GMB has vigorously defended our members in the defence manufacturing sector and we will make the case for Trident Renewal at the Scottish Labour Party Conference.

In a world facing many threats and dangers a properly functioning defence capability is essential to deal with often unpredictable and unforeseen events that threaten national security.

The 40,000 defence workers in Scotland are as vital to our national security as the armed forces. Without the skills of the workforce in the yards on the Clyde and Rosyth the Royal Navy could not defend the nation.

It makes no sense to abandon our longstanding overall defence strategy unilaterally for solely political reasons. That goes for Trident and the jobs at Faslane and Barrow.

There will be talk about defence diversification at the Scottish Labour Conference but, frankly, it is pie in the sky. For communities who are dependent on the defence industries, in Scotland, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Barrow in Furness and others, so-called defence diversification has meant one thing – the end of well-paid skilled jobs and the rise of unemployment or low skilled, low paid jobs with zero hours contracts. For all the talk about diversification the reality will not be more schools or hospitals but yard and factory closures, job losses and rising levels of poverty.

The Scottish Labour Party and the Scottish Government need to get real on jobs. Without defence work there will be no Clyde shipyards and Falmouth would probably face closure. The same goes Barrow. The real casualties will be the communities if these highly skilled, well paid irreplaceable union jobs are given up.

Some Tories might welcome closure of yards and factories because they would prefer to import, cheaper foreign made kit. There has always been pressure in defence circles to buy ships off the shelf from overseas yards because they are cheaper. Some admirals definitely would prefer buy two get one free approach. We have seen it already.

Large parts of the establishment have no loyalty to the working class in defence jobs. As an island nation it is madness to give up the skills vital to our defences. GMB Scotland will stand up for defence workers who are essential to our national security."
End

3 Copy of letter from GMB Scotland to members working in the defence sector dated 26 October 2015

Dear Colleague,

Scottish Labour Party Conference 2015

Diversification and Trident

At the forthcoming Scottish Labour Party Conference there will be a debate about Trident Renewal. GMB policy is clear - to support Trident Renewal. We have members in Scotland, Barrow-in-Furness and Plymouth who have a direct interest in the future of Trident.

We also have members elsewhere in defence manufacturing who desperately need the work that Trident renewal would bring. The issue is not simply about Trident, it is about defence manufacturing in totality, which is a key part of the Scottish economy. Cuts in defence manufacturing will have huge implications for you, your family and for Scotland as a whole.

There will be talk about defence diversification at the Labour Conference but, frankly, it is pie in the sky. For communities who are dependent on the defence industries, in Scotland, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Barrow in Furness and others, so-called defence diversification has meant one thing – the end of well-paid skilled jobs and the rise of unemployment or low skilled, low paid jobs with zero hours contracts. For all the talk about diversification the reality will not be more schools or hospitals but yard and factory closures, job losses and rising levels of poverty.

The Type 26 Combat Vessel Programme like other programmes before it is facing cuts. Nobody can have any belief in those who say that diversifying into conventional defence systems is credible. In GMB we just don't buy it.

GMB believes that the question is not whether Trident will be renewed. The crucial matter is whether the system will be built in the UK. There are those in the Ministry of Defence who would prefer to buy equipment off the shelf from abroad rather than have it manufactured in the UK. They argue it is cheaper but offshoring this crucial work will kill UK jobs and have massive knock on costs through higher unemployment and rising welfare bills. It seems there are those in the MOD and Government who have no concern about the impact on skilled jobs, particularly in Scotland.

Going into the Scottish Labour Party it’s our intention that GMB Scotland will continue to press the case for defence manufacturing and Trident renewal. The renewal of Trident is not an academic debate for the coffee shops of North London. Neither should the debate over Trident just involve politicians, political interest groups and the media. The voice of ordinary workers, whose jobs depend on defence contracts and Trident renewal, needs to be heard too.

GMB has vigorously defended our members in the defence manufacturing sector and we will make the case for Trident Renewal at the Scottish Labour Party Conference. We believe that GMB members are supportive of the position that we intend to adopt, but we are asking you as members to feedback to your Shop Stewards and Conveners about how you feel on the GMB position on Trident Renewal. With your continued support GMB will passionately argue the case to defend your jobs and those of our other members in yards and factories across the UK. We will be speaking to the conveners and shop stewards just prior to Scottish Labour Party Conference to gauge the response of you as GMB members.

Your union, GMB, will always unequivocally be on the side of you, your family and working communities in our country.

Yours sincerely

Jim Lennox GMB Scotland President and Gary Smith Acting Regional Secretary

4 Press release dated Tuesday 22 September 2015

 

Labour Party And Scottish Government Must Get Real On 40,000 Scottish Defence Jobs As Labour Conference Is Set To Debate Future Of Trident

As an island nation it is madness to give up the skills vital to our defences and we will stand up for defence workers who are essential to our national security says GMB Scotland

GMB Scotland, the union for shipyard and defence workers, responded to reports that the Labour Party Conference in Brighton next week is likely to debate the future of UK defences and the Trident nuclear deterrent.

Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Acting Secretary, said “In a world facing many threats and dangers a properly functioning defence capability is essential to deal with often unpredictable and unforeseen events that threaten national security.

 

The 40,000 defence workers in Scotland are as vital to our national security as the armed forces. Without the skills of the workforce in the yards on the Clyde and Rosyth the Royal Navy could not defend the nation.

 

It makes no sense to abandon our longstanding overall defence strategy unilaterally for solely political reasons. That goes for Trident and the jobs at Faslane and Barrow.

The truth is the peace dividend from the fall of the Berlin Wall brought unemployment and poverty to towns like Plymouth. Dockyard jobs in Portsmouth have been replaced by zero hours retail work.

The Labour Party and the Scottish Government need to get real on jobs. Without defence work there will be no Clyde shipyards and Falmouth would probably face closure. The same goes Barrow. The real casualties will be the communities if these highly skilled, well paid irreplaceable union jobs are given up.

 

Some Tories might welcome closure of yards and factories because they would prefer to import, cheaper foreign made kit. There has always been pressure in defence circles to buy ships off the shelf from overseas yards because they are cheaper. Some admirals definitely would prefer buy two get one free approach. We have seen it already.

 

Large parts of the establishment have no loyalty to the working class in defence jobs. As an island nation it is madness to give up the skills vital to our defences. GMB Scotland will stand up for defence workers who are essential to our national security."

 

 

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