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GMB Trident Successor Programme Conference

Thursday, February 25, 2016

GMB Trident Successor Programme Conference Warn That Professional Posers Will Be Given Fight Of Their Lives

Politicians want to cancel the renewal of Trident whatever the consequences and for you to forget about the decent jobs with good prospects, secure terms and conditions of employment and a good company pension scheme says GMB.

At the Trident Successor Programme conference in Newcastle upon Tyne on the 25th February Gary Smith, Secretary GMB Scotland spoke defending the jobs of GMB members. See notes to Editors for the text of his full speech plus copies of previous GMB press releases on the Trident Successor Programme.

Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Secretary, said “Instead of honouring you as hard-working, committed trade unionists there are people, many of whom are at the heart of the Labour and Trade Union movement, who, quite simply, want you to lose your jobs.

They want to cancel the renewal of Trident, whatever the consequences. They want you to forget about the decent jobs you have with good prospects, secure terms and conditions of employment and, astonishingly in 21st Century Britain, a company pension scheme. Forget about the strength this provides for working people and communities. Forget about the brighter future it offers to our young people. For these armchair generals playing their student politics as they sip lattes in Holyrood and Islington, none of this matters. Well, the GMB says you do matter and we’re going to give these professional posers the fight of their lives.

Failing to renew Trident is wrong on so many levels. Whether the professional posers with their brand of student politics accept it or not the people of this country do believe Trident makes us more secure. And what they do not understand is that the yards the length and breadth of Britain are inextricably linked. They glibly say that it is only 500 jobs at Faslane and Coulport at risk, well it isn't it is the future of Rosyth and even shipbuilding on the Upper Clyde are at risk too.”

Ends

Contact: Gary Smith on 07710 618909 or 0141 332 8641 or GMB press office 07921 289880 or 07970 863411

Notes to Editors

Gary Smith GMB Scotland Secretary - Speech to GMB Trident Conference Thursday 25th February 2016

Good morning

What a pleasure it is to stand here today and look out and see so many outstanding GMB Shop Stewards and Convenors. Every day you and other GMB Shop Stewards like you make a huge difference to the lives of GMB members and working people across the country, from the Channel Islands to the top of Shetland.

It’s not always easy being a Shop Steward or Convenor.  I started out as a GMB Shop Steward in the gas industry and remember the long hours and seemingly endless meetings.  I also remember that you don’t always get the thanks you deserve for the pay rise you secure, for the jobs you save and the fights you put up on behalf of workers. My parents brought me up with strong working class values - to work hard, respect others, be polite and always say thank you when someone does something for you.

So, today I want to say a simple but powerful thing to everyone here today – thank you for everything you do for GMB members.  Thank you for making GMB a stronger union.  And thank you for all of your hard work that every day helps keep our country safe. Give yourselves a big round of applause.

It seems that not everyone wants to say thank you.  Instead of honouring you as hard-working, committed trade unionists there are people, many of whom are at the heart of the Labour and Trade Union movement, who, quite simply, want you to lose your jobs.  They want to cancel the renewal of Trident, whatever the consequences.  They want you to forget about the decent jobs you have with good prospects, secure terms and conditions of employment and, astonishingly in 21st Century Britain, a company pension scheme.  Forget about the strength this provides for working people and communities.  Forget about the brighter future it offers to our young people.  For these armchair generals playing their student politics as they sip lattes in Holyrood and Islington, none of this matters.  Well, the GMB says you do matter and we’re going to give these professional posers the fight of their lives.

Failing to renew Trident is wrong on so many levels.  Whether the professional posers with their brand of student politics accept it or not the people of this country do believe Trident makes us more secure.  And what they do not understand is that the yards the length and breadth of Britain are inextricably linked.  They glibly say that it is only 500 jobs at Faslane and Coulport at risk, well it isn't it is the future of Rosyth and even shipbuilding on the Upper Clyde are at risk too.

Workers from the Upper Clyde will be redeployed to Barrow and Rosyth because there is such a big gap in the programme of work on the Clyde.  If the Successor Programme does not go ahead there will be a domino effect with thousands of jobs going at the Lower Clyde, Upper Clyde and Rosyth.

I remember as a young man when Thatcher privatised Rosyth and thousands of jobs went.  I remember the battle between Rosyth and Devonport over the Trident work, Devonport being close to my heart as I looked after it for a number of years and I remember that John Major all but closed Rosyth.  So it is utterly perverse to me that after all the marches to defend shipbuilding and industry on the Clyde and at Rosyth we have Labour politicians playing fast and loose with your jobs.

Some in the Labour Party are arguing that you can build Trident submarines but not put missiles in them.  Really?  When I heard this I thought ‘is it April Fools’ Day?’  What will go in the missile tubes instead?  Tropical fish?

Such attitudes are simply astonishing and if the subject wasn’t so serious we could all have a big laugh at this pantomime nonsense.

Oh, and by the way Labour Party, the tubes are built by highly skilled GMB members at Rosyth.  It’s about time these rent-a-quotes put down their student placards, stop trashing those who protect our country and start showing some respect for the hard-working trade unionists whose livelihoods depend on this work.  Remember Mr and Mrs Politician, these are the same trade unionists whose votes you’ll be chasing come election time.

Right now it feels a lonely business being a decent trade unionist working in defence industries.  In Scotland it was bad enough when it was just the nationalists who wanted to sack GMB members from their jobs and lose skilled work from their country.  What we didn’t need is for the Scottish Labour Party, incredibly supported by other trade unions, to also call for an end to Trident renewal.  So now we’re up against a cosy establishment consensus in Scotland directly opposed to decent, hard-working trade union members, their families and their communities.

Instead of being constantly attacked we should be celebrated. The story of employment in defence industries is of unionised jobs, with low rates of casualisation and decent employment benefits.  Unlike so many of the low-wage, highly insecure, zero-hours jobs being created elsewhere in the economy, defence jobs provide a wage where you can raise a family and have a decent life.  Why can’t the SNP, Labour and some other trade unions support this?  In my view, they just don’t like or get working class people.

Copies of previous GMB press releases

Trident Successor Programme Conference

Copy of GMB press release dated  February 24, 2016

Programme For GMB Conference In Newcastle Upon Tyne On Thur 25th Feb For Representatives In Workplaces In The Trident Successor Programme

Many people have not realised that the future of shipbuilding on the upper Clyde is tied to the Trident successor programme says GMB Scotland.

GMB, the union for defence workers, is holding a national conference tomorrow (Thursday 25th February) for representatives from workplaces involved in the Trident successor programme and others in Newcastle upon Tyne. See notes to editors for copies of previous GMB press releases on the Trident successor programme.

The conference will include GMB representatives from Barrow, Devonport, Faslane, Coulport, Rosyth, Clydeside, Derby, Merseyside and other workplaces. The conference will also be attended by MPs and senior local councillors.

The conference will be addressed by Paul Kenny, outgoing GMB General Secretary, Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Secretary, Tim Griffiths, GMB convener Barrow, Nigel Warn, GMB convener Devonport, Eric McLeod Trade Union Secretary at Babcock Rosyth and Kevan Jones MP, Labour ex shadow defence minister for north Durham and others.

The conference will be held in the Council Chamber in the Civic Centre, Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RS. It will start at 12 noon. The event is open to media. Any media outlet wishing to attend should contact GMB press office below for credentials. The conference will be streamed live on the GMB websitehttp://www.gmb.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/214197

Gary Smith, Secretary GMB Scotland, said "Many people have not realised that the future of shipbuilding on the upper Clyde is tied to the Trident successor programme.

We have a sizeable gap in our programme of work and that will be filled by workers from BAE Systems on the Upper Clyde going to work in Rosyth, maybe Faslane and definitely Barrow.

The only way we will avoid big job losses whilst we wait for the work on the next ships to come on stream is by redeploying hundreds of workers as we are doing at the moment to other yards.

The future of all the yards in the UK are inextricably tied together. This is a point missed by many politicians. We desperately need investment at BAE on the Clyde. Politicians would be better off arguing for investment to secure the future of ship building on the Clyde rather than playing fast and loose with our jobs.”

Eric McLeod, trade union secretary at Babcock Rosyth added “The debate on Trident has focused on job losses at Faslane and Coulport. If the successor programme did not go ahead it would have a devastating impact on Rosyth.

We are already working on components for the successor programme with 150 workers on the job. The successor programme could give us 15 years of work. Our brothers and sisters for the upper Clyde need the work too. They will have a chance to work at Rosyth whilst there is a significant gap in their work programme.

Rosyth is trying to diversify, we are chasing oil and gas work as well as work in renewables but I can tell you it is tough. We are not going to take lectures in diversification from people who know nothing about our industry. The political class can delude themselves, playing student politics with our jobs but the truth is  the successor programmes is vital to the future of Rosyth and our local economy.”

1 GMB press release dated 9th February

GMB CONFERENCE IN NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE ON THUR 25TH FEB FOR REPRESENTATIVES IN WORKPLACES IN THE TRIDENT SUCCESSOR PROGRAMME

It is time for the real voice of working people in our defence industries to be heard in the defence debate in the Labour Party says GMB

GMB, the union for defence workers, is holding a national conference for representatives from workplaces involved in the Trident successor programme in Newcastle upon Tyne on Thursday 25th February. See notes to editors for copies of previous GMB press releases on the Trident successor programme.

The conference will include GMB representatives from Barrow, Devonport, Faslane, Coulport, Rosyth, Clydeside, Derby, Merseyside and other workplaces. The conference will also be attended by MPs and senior local councillors. The conference will be addressed by Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, Tim Roache, General Secretary Elect, Gary Smith, Secretary GMB Scotland and others.

The conference will be held in the Council Chamber in the Civic Centre, Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RS. It will start at 12 noon. The event is open to media. Any media outlet wishing to attend should contact GMB press office below for credentials.

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said “Since the Labour Party announced its defence review GMB has not stood idly by and nor do we intend to.

It is time for the real voice of working people in our defence industries to be heard in this debate in the Labour Party. This is the voice of men and women in what are some of the most highly skilled manufacturing jobs in the UK.

It is time that senior politicians in the Labour Party listened to the voice of working people outside Westminster.”

End

2 GMB press release dated 11th January 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.

3 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"

4 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

5 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

5 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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