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2007 National Delegate Conference
1 June 2007

Conference, recognising current UNISON policy is firmly in favour of nuclear disarmament, is appalled by the intention of the United Kingdom (UK) government to replace the Trident nuclear weapon system.

Conference recognises that the vote taken in the Westminster Parliament on 14 March does not signify the end of the process to replace Trident, with a final decision on whether to replace not likely to be required before the next general election. Conference congratulates the MPs who have consistently voted against Trident and voted against the government on this occasion.

Conference is particularly concerned that this decision goes against the obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to seek in good faith nuclear disarmament. This can only encourage aspiring nuclear powers to acquire nuclear weapons. Unless the actions and the message from Britain and other nuclear powers change, more and more nations will get nuclear weapons and it will be only a matter of time before they are used, with disastrous consequences for us all.

We also refute the argument that decommissioning Trident would cost 11,000 jobs to the Scottish economy. Conference welcomes the recent research commissioned by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) and Campaign Against Nuclear Disarmament (CND) on the economic impact of the non-replacement of Trident on the local areas surrounding Faslane and Coulport on the Clyde. The report argues that many more jobs would be created if Trident was abolished, than would be retained if it were renewed. Their findings showed that the number of jobs directly and indirectly dependent on Trident was only 1259, most of which would not disappear for up to 15 years after decommissioning. If, as would be likely, Trident was decommissioned early to coincide with the planned build-up of six conventionally armed submarines at Faslane by 2018, then many of these job losses would be avoided.

In addition, the savings possible from the defence budget if Trident were cancelled could fund over 3,000 jobs in alternative and socially useful areas of the economy, which require a highly skilled and technical workforce such as renewable energy, in areas such as marine power. However, the impact on public service jobs should Trident be replaced could be catastrophic as the £75 billion required to replace and service Trident is funded directly from the Comprehensive Spending Review and not the Defence budget so therefore is competing with health, education and social services for funding

We note the clear indications that people throughout the UK oppose the replacement of Trident. Polls show 58 per cent of the United Kingdom public oppose replacing Trident at this cost, and 81 per cent want to see a full Parliamentary debate.

Therefore Conference:

1) reaffirms its existing resolve to “oppose the replacement of Trident and call for the decommissioning of the existing Trident weapons system;

2) welcomes the anti-Trident stance adopted by the 2006 Trade Union Congress;

3)regrets the attempts by Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and others to rush through a premature decision in favour of replacement without the consent of the electorate and the outcome of the vote on the replacement of Trident in the Westminster Parliament at an estimated cost of at least £25billion, whilst congratulating the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament for its co-ordinated campaign, in which UNISON took part. This resulted in the biggest rebellion on domestic policy with 51.5% of Labour backbenchers voting against the government motion;

4) notes that replacement would be not just dangerous and in breach of our international obligations but also phenomenally expensive; Trident, and any proposed replacement system offers offer no realistic defence against any conceivable attack; are by any definition weapons of mass destruction and will cost roughly the same as training and employing 100,000 firefighters, 120,000 teachers or 120,000 nurses every year for the next ten years;

5)applauds the idea that the Scottish parliament should legislate to make it a crime in Scotland to use or plan to use weapons of mass destruction and call upon the Westminster government to follow suit;

6)urges the Scottish Parliament to investigate how this additional money could be used to fund energy efficiency and renewable technologies to bring the level of research and development in these industries into line with that of comparable economies;

7)resolves that UNISON should fully support the Campaign Against Nuclear Disarmament (CND) campaign against Trident replacement, including affiliating to CND and backing their mobilisations.

Conference calls on the National Executive Council to:

a)step up our campaign against such a gross misallocation of taxpayer’s money when there are so many vital and constructive ways in which it could otherwise be spent;

b)publicise the findings of the Defence Select Committee;

c)work with Labour Link to highlight the effect that replacement of Trident, a weapons system that is never intended to be used, may have on public services and jobs;

d)campaign to ensure the debate returns to the House of Commons and for a full debate on the implications for our country’s participation in the Non-Proliferation Treaty;

e)continue to publicise the issues and campaign information to branches and members.