A new report published jointly by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) and the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament shows that many of the skills used by Scottish workers in the Trident nuclear weapons programme could be transferred to other non-Trident submarine work, surface warship work or economic development activity in alternative areas.
The report, ‘Trident and Jobs', makes the case for a Scottish Defence Diversification Agency which would plan and resource the diversification of jobs away from military programmes such as Trident and promote a greener Scottish economy.
The report builds on work undertaken in 2007, when the two organisations together published a detailed study on the economic and employment consequences of cancelling Trident. The 2007 report showed that the replacement of Trident would cost Scotland more jobs than it would provide, whilst the funds released by Trident cancellation would create a major opportunity for productive investment in Scotland’s economy.
The new study explains why the employment impact of cancelling Trident would be limited and outlines ways in which money saved could be reinvested to boost economic development and create skilled jobs. It argues that a new Scottish Defence Diversification Agency should engage with trade union representatives and other stakeholders to develop and implement plans for diversification that have the confidence of the workforce.
According to the report defence diversification case studies from the United States show that with early planning, adequate resources, workforce involvement, and political will, local communities can prosper after the closure of large military installations.
The Government’s four year long austerity programme has squeezed defence budgets and pursued the replacement of Trident at the expense of spending on conventional defence and conventional defence manufacturing jobs.
Jackson Cullinane, Political Officer for Unite Scotland, said that defence jobs have been reducing over the lifetime of the existing Trident programme.
“Over that period, 40,000 (35 per cent) of defence jobs have been lost, including 100 at Coulport, when overhaul responsibilities shifted to the US, and 250 at Faslane, principally as a consequence of Babcock privatisation”, he said.
“The clear message is that Trident and expenditure on nuclear weapons is costing, and will continue to cost, jobs in the defence sector”.
In support of the report's findings, the STUC voted at its April Congress meeting to step up the campaign against Trident' and press the Scottish and UK Governments for the formation of a Scottish Defence Diversification Agency.