Renewing Trident will cost our jobs

IssueMarch 2008
Feature by Declan McCormick

This was the key message from a conference on "Trident, Trade Unions & Scotland's Economy" jointly held by the Scottish Trades Unions Congress and Scottish CND.

The cost of the Trident replacement won't come from existing Ministry of Defence budgets. Funds will be redirected from elsewhere, which means cutbacks in essential services. UK-wide, up to 30,000 public sector jobs are expected to be lost.

Of these, 2,500 will be lost in Scotland ­ more than the number of jobs gained or kept in military industries if Trident replacement goes ahead.

These are the findings of a STUC/SCND report into the economic consequences of cancelling Trident, presented to the confer- ence by co-author Professor John Foster, for- merly professor of politics at Paisley Univer- sity.

Stop blaming workers

From the conference floor, Jake Cullinane (UNITE), stressed the importance of encouraging wider trade union involvement in campaigns against Trident replacement .

He felt the need for a change of mindset in the peace movement, where defence workers can be seen as the enemy.

Rather, workers at Faslane should be contributing to the campaign, through involvement in any plans for military conversion.

In similar vein, Rebecca Johnson (formerly of Faslane 365), proposed that further reports should be produced to identify and address the issues raised by Faslane workers.


In a wider discussion, Tommy Morrison (UNISON) raised the lack of activity amongst grass-roots trades unionists in opposition to Trident, an example being demonstrations, where few union banners are seen.

On this, Ann Henderson (STUC) drew parallels with the women's movement in years past. Just as feminists are also members of trade unions, the same goes for those opposed to Trident. She proposed that peace activists should take the issues forward in the unions where they are members.

Bill Ramsay (Educational Institute of Scotland ­ EIS) described how there were real opportunities for issues surrounding war and peace to be raised in schools, as part of the Scottish Government's commitment to peace education. This could range from introducing mediation to students, through to encouraging geo-political discussion in the classroom.

Tactical differences

Morag Forbes (IWW) reminded the conference that Faslane as a whole should close, and not just the Trident operations.

This would mean confronting the public health implications of decommissioning nuclear reactors based there. This brought into focus the tactical differences between the STUC and the wider peace movement.

The STUC's current campaigning is consciously restricted to Trident replacement only. Dismantling all nuclear and military installations remains the goal for anti-militarists and peace networks across the UK.


The conference and the STUC placed an emphasis on high level lobbying. Scottish Labour MPs' unquestioning loyalty to the Government is legendary, but 15 rebelled in the Westminster vote on Trident replacement last year.

Key speaker Katie Clark MP explained how successful lobbying by the STUC had been crucial in achieving this Commons rebellion. However, she cautioned that, in her opinion, it was unlikely that this could be surpassed.

The STUC continues to work through the Scottish Parliament, by contributing to the working group on Trident replacement. The Scottish Nationalists (SNP) lead a hung parliament. Though opposed to Trident, it is not yet clear how the SNP government will respond to these new political circumstances.

Topics: Nuclear weapons
See more of: Scotland