Policy conference delegates debated the need to protect defence sector jobs and form a credible path forward for defence diversification today (July 2).
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner, speaking for the EC said there is a “desperate” need for the government to develop a modern comprehensive UK defence strategy.
Reiterating the union’s values of peace and internationalism, Turner highlighted the need to project the thousands of jobs supported directly and indirectly through the defence industry.
He said, “A successful defence diversification strategy is key to the long term security of our jobs and skills and the communities that rely on them… Such a strategy is not about (moving) away from good jobs in defence but developing proposals for skilled alternate work when those jobs can be no longer be sustained through defence work alone.
“The executive statement commits us to building a combine, an alliance, bringing people together from both within and outside of our union to develop our work on this. It commits us to resourcing that work and empowering our members to finding solutions to often difficult and sensitive issues.
“Research being undertaken now internationally on diversification shows us that without a forward thinking, engaging and proactive approach to a just transition we’ll be sacrificed on the altar of the markets, fending for ourselves like those in our coalfields, textile industries and manufacturing heartlands during previous decades. We must recognise and learn the lessons from our past. Not on Unite’s watch is it going to happen again.”
A full debate on the issues then followed. The resolution was carried.