Wednesday 20 April 2016

STUC 2016 - Arms to renewable is a win-win and STUC will develop plans for a Just Transition

The STUC General Council has committed to develop a credible, coherent and fully costed plan for an effective and Just Transition from arms industry jobs, including Trident renewal, to alternative occupations.

On this basis, Aberdeen and Dundee Trades Union Councils agreed to remit their composited motion to the General Council.

Earlier ATUC’s Kate Ramsden had condemned the arms trade in the UK which wreaks havoc on the lives of ordinary people – men, women and children, bombed or gunned down by weapons that we make in this country

“Remember the bombardment of Gaza in 2014?” asked Kate. “The devastation wrought by Israeli bombs and missiles whose component parts were made at the Raytheon factory in Fife.

“And what about the Yemen? The sale of arms and aircraft to Saudi Arabia by this government used in the indiscriminate bombing of men, women and children in that country"

She told delegates that 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," slammed Kate.

“It’s immoral, it’s obscene and it has to stop.”

However, said Kate, as well as the moral argument there’s also an economic reason to stop manufacturing arms.

She pointed to research by Campaign Against the Arms Trade which has shown that there is huge potential in the UK to exchange arms for renewables – to diversify to offshore wind and marine energy which could produce more jobs than the entire arms industry.

Kate added that the Government subsidises the arms industry to the tune of around £700 million per year.

“That’s tax payers’ money. That’s our money!

“If the will was there the government could take that money and invest it in providing alternative employment for arms trade workers in the renewable energy sector – a sector which needs many of the same skills as the arms industry."

She called on the General Council to revisit its earlier work on defence diversification and to build on it to develop a clear strategy to underpin the transfer of government subsidies from arms to renewables.

“We know there will be challenges but we believe these can and must be overcome. We have to press the UK and Scottish government to support individuals and communities affected by such changes during the transition period.”

She urged delegates individually and in their unions and trade union councils, to keep up the pressure on the UK and Scottish Governments to immediately end the arms trade to Middle East countries, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, who use these arms for oppression and war.

“We must campaign to end an arms trade which creates such death and destruction to so many innocent civilians and children and at the same time promote renewable forms of energy that tackle climate change, cut emissions and offer a more positive future.

“Arms to renewable is a win-win – protecting jobs and livelihoods at the same time as protecting the climate and those suffering war and oppression.”