Category Archives: Economy
Trident’s replacement will cost at least £205 billion of public money. A staggering figure, particularly when we consider the nuclear weapons system has no real military value and is useless in the face of the real threats we face today, such as terrorism, climate change and cyber-attacks and could be rendered obsolete by new technology. But many try to argue that this investment is worth it because of the jobs the nuclear weapon system sustains.
People’s livelihoods matter. But an objective appraisal of the jobs associated with Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system, and its replacement will demonstrate that these are among the most costly jobs ever created. By simply re-directing a proportion of the money allocated to the Trident replacement programme to other industries, it would be possible to create many more, highly specialised and well-paid jobs. This transition programme would directly benefit those currently working on Britain’s nuclear weapons. Society as a whole would benefit from the shift to more productive jobs. And of course, humanity as a whole would benefit from the reduction in the numbers of weapons of mass destruction.
Read report here: Trident-and-Jobs
Attendees at the Trades Council conference workshop hosted by The New Lucas Plan group heard introductions from John Routley former Lucas Shop Stewards Combine and Steve Schofield researcher for Lessnet (The Local Economic Sustainability and Security Network) and author of Oceans of Work: Arms Conversion revisited. Discussion centred on the original Lucas plan and its relevance for today. By the end there was agreement that with long term planning and investment, particularly in High-Tec growth areas like wind and marine energy, the creation of alternative, sustainable, socially-useful, high skill, high value employment was possible and desirable but only achievable by a Government prepared to invest time, money, with sustained political will and a Labour Leadership that reflects our values-as we now have!
However, success was only possible if there was engagement with defence workers and their Unions and representatives at the very start and heart of the process. They are the ones to identify their needs, capacity and to initiate ideas for the drawing up of practical arms conversion plans whilst protecting skilled employment and pay levels, in the same way that Lucas Aerospace workers did over 40 years ago. It was felt given the sensitivities around this issue Trades Union Council’s, based in their local communities, were well placed to initiate, and develop those discussions locally.
You can see John and Steve’s introductory workshop speeches on https://www.facebook.com/greatermanchester.cnd/videos/804404266416772/.
Following on the film THE PLAN – that came from the bottom up tells the story of those pioneering Lucas workers and the ideas that were the motivation for the Arms Conversion/Defence Diversification motion passed at the TUC Congress in 2017.
Frances O’Grady has written this about the film “Throughout the union movement’s 150-year history, our cause has been to make working lives better. But there are times when we have gone further, we have challenged the very nature and the purpose of the work that we do. The Lucas Plan was created during one of those times. It holds out hope that production can be transformed to create a fairer, greener world. And it is testimony to the wealth of genius to be found on the shop floor. This will be a must-see film for every trade unionist – please support it.”. You can do so by donating through crowdfunding using this link https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-plan-community/x/11054043#/ or get more information via http://www.theplandocumentary.com
Of course, a key means in developing any industrial strategy would be the National Investment Bank proposed by John McDonell who has stated that such a bank could support the development of diversification plans in the local economies of areas heavily dependent on the defence industry, in consultation with local Unions and businesses.
In addition, a shadow Defence Diversification agency would also help deliver a future Labour Government’s goals of an ethical foreign policy and secure sustainable jobs, guaranteeing as Jeremy Corbyn said in his 2015 Labour Leadership statement “A just transition for communities whose livelihoods are based in those defence sectors, so that engineering and scientific skills are not lost but transferred into more socially productive industries”.
Building on from the workshop there are a few public meetings taking place on Defence diversification/arms conversion-Labour CND AGM; Parliamentary launch of Nuclear Education Trust report; Labour CND fringe at Unite conference; Yorkshire CND meeting with Fabian Hamilton.
You can continue discussion with both Steve Schofield on firstname.lastname@example.org
And John Routley through email@example.com
Thanks Moz Greenshields workshop chair
‘Co-operatives Unleashed: Doubling the Size of the UK Co-operative Sector’, calls for significant expansion in the co-operative sector, and outlines five steps that policymakers could take to achieve this aim.
Read more and help us spread the word using the links below:
The Co-operative Party’s approach is shaped by our co-operative values, with the emphasis on accountability and on ensuring that the voice of customers, staff and the taxpayer are at the heart of how these industries are run.
The report calls for:
- Not-for-profit, regional water companies which are owned and run by trusts accountable to employees and consumers.
- Rail services run by not-for-profit train service providers replacng train operating companies, and a new democratic ‘Guiding Mind’ for the railways to take over from Network Rail.
- A new Energy Security Board, accountable to energy customers, employees and other stakeholders, and charged with securing the nation’s energy future; democratic regional distribution grids owned and run by consumer and employee trusts; a new generation of community-owned and co-operative renewable generation and energy supply; and a publicly-owned power generation company for large-scale generation.
Download here: ownership-matters-final-3mm
Yesterday, the Labour Party held a conference that put some serious theoretical grounding for the ideas that drove the enthusiasm for the party’s manifesto of last year. It started with production of a report commissioned by John McDonnell into “Alternative Models of Ownership”, which uses studies from round the world (including here in Britain) into how genuinely innovative alternatives to both the private sector and the old model of centralised nationalisation can make our society better. The link is here.
The scope of the event was very broad, and included:
- Combining and democratising different forms of ownership, including municipalisation and co-operatism.
- Looking at how privatised services are, right now, being in-sourced throughout the world in an almost “silent revolution” in services that is happening on all continents and across the Global North/South divide.
- How modern technology affects work, removing some jobs but actually creating others, and how the role of organised labour is essential to directing automation and AI in a progressive and ethical way.
- How the knowledge and data-based economy has become severely monopolistic and how democratic structures, like radical municipal authorities in Barcelona (or even our very own Transport for London) can resist this and form a data commons and digital sovereignty that works for people not a tiny number of massive multinational businesses.
- How participatory authorities, many of which have formed as a result of an unlikely alliance between grassroots campaigners and tech experts frustrated by the problems with neoliberalism, have been assembled and work in practice.
- Putting forward our positive vision of how technology and industry could be like. The legacy of Mike Cooley and the Lucas aerospace workers was a really important touchstone for this.
The conference opened with big names, culminating in a closing speech by Jeremy Corbyn, but the contributions and questions from the floor were also really good and Jeremy actually referenced this in his summing up. But the most exciting thing about it was something raised by veteran campaigner Hilary Wainwright, who said that for the first time, we have a socialist vision that is built not around putting all our faith into massive scale nationalisation run by the state, but by the participation of ordinary working people, and that the closest we’d ever really got to this before was not 1945 (which, in any case, we all know cannot go back to) but to the brief experiment in which Tony Benn tried to collaborate with the Lucas workers back in 1977. Our socialism will not be top-down: it will be decentralised democratic public ownership.
Today’s meeting of South East Region Trades Union Congress (soon to be renamed TUC in London, East and South England, LESE) was made two exceptionally good addresses from Labour politicians.
The first talk was from Emma Dent Coad MP, who last year went from the elation of winning a shock election victory for Labour in the constituency of Kensington & Chelsea to the horror of the Grenfell Tower fire. Emma, a lifelong resident of the borough, a student of architecture and a Labour councillor for twelve years could not be a better person to take on the K&C Tories. The high-handedness of their council administration was almost comically awful long before the tragedy of Grenfell. This was a council that accused Labour of virtue-signalling when they proposed letting a food-bank have the use of a council property, and then praised food banks as being superior to the welfare state. They were enthusiasts for the most extreme rightwing think tanks that permanently label working-class communities as “broken” by “dependency culture” and propose to fix them through means of pure social cleansing, with madcap plans to relocate Londoners to places as far afield as Hastings and Peterborough, places that they would feel completely lost in.
Emma argued that the ideological assault of the Tories cannot be fought on its own terms, which she likened to a sort of rightwing bullshit bingo. “We must challenge the social determinism of the elites… Keeping us debating in a middle ground does not help those we want to represent… We must change the narrative against the monetisation of housing and use our own language, not the language of the Tories.”. During the discussion, numerous delegates raised the ideological attacks that have come from the media, both against Emma and Labour and, horribly, the Grenfell survivors themselves, who are falsely presented as having in some way benefited from the fire. Emma said that this was part of the ideological offensive, and definitely something that is hardening up right now.
After Emma Dent Coad, we were treated to the first adress to SERTUC by Labour Shadow Chancellor for decades, John McDonnell. John informed us that had had the very great pleasure of speaking to City of London asset managers, and telling them he was absolutely in favour of investment from all investors that pay taxes and recognise unions. What he wanted to talk to us about, though, was PFI and the fallout of the Carillion collapse.
“For 20 years, Jeremy and I campaigned against PFI in public services… which is all about making money by ‘sweating the assets’, which means cutting wages and spending.” He explained that the figures, which many people refuse to believe even when presented to them, that the private sector has made services anywhere between 40 and 70% more expensive. He said he had earlier in the week, he’d been discussing Carillion with Royston Bentham, a heroic worker blacklisted by that company for fighting for health and safety at work, just one example of a person who knows only too well working under these conditions are like.
Labour is going to sieze the opportunity presented by this emergency to finally end PFI. Not only will there be no more PFI contracts, but John pledged to bring services back in-house and “re-establish the credentials of direct labour and
services. We will end privatisation, full stop.”. The bigger ideas for reforming industry and work included:
- There will be reform of the financial auditors to put an end to the tax avoidance industry
- Workers will not just get onto company boards, but there will be a workers’ right to buy to enable people to take ownership of businesses they work in
- Trade union rights will be fully restored, with the Tory anti-union laws repealed within the first 100 days of the Labour government
- A ministry of labour will be established that will enable and enforce sectoral bargaining
McDonnell emphasised, particularly in response to discussion from the floor, that a radical Labour government will only succeed if we rebuild the mass labour movement to allow it to survive, and that we need to set ourselves the target of doubling the size of our trade union membership. He rounded up by saying that Labour is holding a potentially ground breaking conference on alternative models of ownership on February the 10th that he urged people to attend, and left us with these words: “We’ve spent a lifetime working towards this, lets sieze the moment!”
The conference to mark 40 years since the Lucas Plan, in which rank and file workers put together a revolutionary programme for repurposing weapons technology for progressive purposes to both save jobs and help society, has had a superb follow up. A an excerpt is here:
So What Happened to Our Conference Motion 16 The “Lucas Plan”, Arms Conversion and
Socially Useful Production? 1st TUCJCC renamed it Defence, Jobs and Diversification then sent it to TUC Congress 2nd It was accepted onto agenda and heard on Tuesday 12th September PM.
The motion is now the property of the General Council and has been referred to the TUC Economic and Social Department for Action. Their first action will be to consult with those Unions directly affected-we’ll keep you updated with any progression.
In the Meantime?
TUCJCC wanted you to know what had happened with your motion, particularly with the announcement of further job losses in BAE and the potential for further announcements of job losses from supply industries across the UK. They would specifically like you too
- Those Trades Union councils covering the area of the BAE job losses already announced to contact the Unions involved and ask how they (and we) could help (if not already involved).
- The TUCJCC regional representatives will raise within their own Regional Executives the wider issue of potential job loss within the wider supply chain industries.
- Discuss the motion within your own Trades Union Councils and consider how your
affiliate could encourage both the TUC and Labour Party to act on it.
The for a link to the full motion and repot: So What Happened to Our Conference Motion 16-final copy (002)