“As a Trade Unionist and a Socialist there is a moral position when it comes to Trident – I don’t want the UK to produce weapons which could kill tens of thousands of innocent people.” – Tony Kearns, Senior Deputy General Secretary of the CWU.
Just one Trident warhead is eight times stronger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan which killed over 200,000 people. Britain currently has approximately 220 of these bombs. Trident is the same system that was originally designed to “flatten Moscow”. Research shows that if it were ever used it could result in 5.4 million deaths. Its very existence is immoral and illegal.
For many working people, the main reason to oppose Trident, besides its lethal immorality, is its extreme cost.
The current bill for replacing Trident is at least £205 billion. Trident sucks billions out of the MOD budget (currently with a deficit of £21bn according to the public spending watchdog), as well as the wider economy, leading to widespread job cuts across the armed forces. At this time of cuts to jobs, housing, NHS and public services, £205 billion could be better spent elsewhere.
Across the country, unions are organising the fight back against austerity. Trident must not be ignored in this debate. To find out what you can do, click here.
Trade union opposition to Trident
In 2017 the TUC passed a motion urging the Labour Party to set up a defence diversification agency as part of its national industrial strategy. The motion referred to the 40th anniversary of the Lucas Plan when workers at Lucas Aerospace came up with plans for defence diversification. Read the full text here.
This followed on from the 2013 motion when the TUC re-affirmed its opposition to Trident replacement, called for a policy ensuring that the skills of workers in the sector be preserved and noted: ‘Public finances can also be improved by addressing tax avoidance and scrapping the replacement of Trident. Money saved by ending our nuclear weapons system could be used to sustain the process of defence diversification, vital to our manufacturing future.’ [CWU motion ‘Economic Policy’]
The motion, which passed overwhelmingly, was supported by the TSSA, FBU, FDA, and Unite. ‘Such a policy would need to ensure that the jobs and skills of tens of thousands of workers in the sector were preserved.’ This corresponds with CND’s calls for Britain’s skilled workforce to manufacture for peace not war in the publication Jobs not Trident and of the Nuclear Education Trust’s Barrow Inquiry, followed by their 2018 report Defence Diversification .
‘Tagging on behind the coat tails of US imperialism is not a role we should continue with. We want to be a force for peace. Trident, and its replacement, only makes sense if you envisage our country’s future as enforcing some sort of order upon the world.’
Read the full text of Billy Hayes’ speech to the TUC here.