Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union writes for CND: “The moral imperative to rid our country of weapons of mass destruction coexists with the ethical necessity of protecting our planet, growing a sustainable economy and spreading more equally the proceeds of that growth”.
He describes the debate around Trident as – too often – debased, and cites the terming of Jeremy Corbyn as an ‘extremist’ because he says that he could never push the nuclear button.
Seeing some in the unions dismissing out of hand the prospects for diversification disappoints Serwotka:
“Essential features of our economy are currently suffering: more than 1.2 million households languish on local authority housing waiting lists, while homebuilding consistently falls woefully short; we lag behind other countries on renewable energy; and the sick joke that is our privatised rail network makes British Rail seem a model of efficiency and popularity”.
He sees the need for a strategic government committing to development and improvement, harnessing the expertise of skilled workforces. The future will require us to generate more green energy and also use it to power new technologies, smart appliances in our homes, greener ways of heating and powering buildings, and cleaner forms of private and public transport.Some areas of the country that rely heavily on Trident, such as Barrow in Cumbria and Devonport in the south west, also suffer from higher than average unemployment. Serwotka emphasises that it is essential that the transition from maintenance of nuclear weapons not only protects livelihoods and skills, but improves them. In the interim, decommissioning will be labour-intensive.
As he recalls, during the Labour leadership election campaign, Jeremy Corbyn pledged a government he led in 2020 would immediately start to plan with communities, workforces, unions and businesses to diversify work as part of a new industrial strategy, backed by a national investment bank to direct funding for manufacturing, infrastructure, science and engineering.
See Jeremy Hardy: “If you just say they keep people in work, I will retort that cracking down on paedophiles poses a risk to workers in the confectionery industry. Or, as Mark Serwotka puts it, ‘It’s like me defending unemployment because it keeps my job centre staff in work.’ I’m not being glib about people whose livelihoods are tied up in Trident.
It sometimes occurs to me that, if we had the kind of government I long for, I’d be out of work myself. But that kind of government would have the money to retrain people, because it wouldn’t waste it on weapons of mass destruction. We could make millionaires of all those employed on Trident and still have money left over to turn Faslane into affordable housing”.
Serwotka ends: “This kind of approach is crucial, but will be impossible if name-calling continues to drive our public debate. We need to be mature, thoughtful and collaborative – watchwords of the union movement – to create a safe, sustainable and peaceful future for the next generation and the ones to come”.
Read the whole article here: http://cnduk.org/cnd-media/item/2425-mark-serwotka-the-trade-union-case-against-nuclear-weapons