The transition towards a shadow’ defence diversification agency, which would transition those working in defence towards diversification was supported by TUC Congress today (12).
Motion 17, defence, jobs and diversification was seconded by PCS delegate David Semple, PCS, who told congress that the agency could be seen as a “valuable tool” which could be used to support members.
“We firmly believe that diversification and a national industrial strategy in transitioning highly-skilled, highly organised workplaces is the best way to do this while defending our jobs,” Semple said.
Convergence of crises
Congress heard from Moz Greenshields from the TUC, who proposed the motion, who told members that 10% of all industry in the UK is in defence.
She told delegates that in the 40 years since the Lucas Plan - a pioneering effort by workers at arms company Lucas Aerospace to retain jobs by proposing alternative, socially useful applications of the company’s technology and their own skills - the industry was facing a convergence of crises.
“There’s a clear economic and political need for diversification and the move from arms,” she said.
Since the Lucas plan was drawn up the UK’s manufacturing industry has shrunk from 25% to 14% of GDP, with the defence industry now representing 10% of all manufacturing.
The passing of the motion means that trade unions and the TUC are committed to work closely with the shadow department for industry in developing an overall national industrial strategy, including the possibility of conversion of ‘defence’ capacity. It will also lobby to establish, before the next general election, the defence diversification agency.
The agency’s role would be to engage with plant representatives, trades unions representing workers in the ‘defence’ industry, and local authorities, to discuss their needs and capacities, and to listen to their ideas, so that practical plans can be drawn up for arms conversion while protecting skilled employment and pay levels.