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Unite’s reaction to the Tory conference

October 9th, 2009 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 2 Comments · Politics

More specifically, Unite’s reaction to the proposals to cut 25% of the MoD budget. As somebody who works in the aerospace & shipbuilding sector covered by Bernie Hamilton I have more than a passing interest in this.

Bernie Hamilton, Unite’s national officer for aerospace and shipbuilding, said:”Liam Fox’s proposals can only mean one thing, thousands of skilled manufacturing jobs are now at risk. A cut of 25% off the MOD’s budget means a cut to the procurement budget, potentially the cancellation of the aircraft carrier contract or Typhoon.”The Tories would devastate Britain’s defence manufacturing base. Tory political dogma of purchasing off- the- shelf defence equipment will consign tens of thousands of skilled workers to the dole queue and hand the UK’s defence needs to other nations and companies from overseas.

Also, in more detail:

Unite anger at Tory and Lib Dem Defence Cut Plans

The UK’s largest union Unite has reacted with anger to the calls for cuts in defence spending which would jeopardise thousands of jobs across the UK by Conservative Shadow Chancellor George Osborne and his Lib Dem opposite, Vince Cable.

George Osborne was reported to have cited the £20billion Eurofighter/Typhoon project, the £4billion project to build two aircraft carriers and the £2.7billion order for 25 A400 transport aircraft as projects to be slashed. The BAE Systems assembly line for Typhoon at Warton alone is estimated to have 100,000 jobs dependent on the project.

Vince Cable has also outlined that there should be a review of defence spending priorities including a second new aircraft carrier and argues that cheaper options from abroad could sought for projects including the £7 billion Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) in his pamphlet published by the think-tank Reform.

Unite’s National Officer for Aerospace & Shipbuilding,  Bernie Hamilton said:

“The comments by Vince Cable and George Osborne fundamentally exposes the Lib Dems and Tories as slash and burners. Both these parties fail to understand that the defence of our nation starts with the ability to be able to supply its armed forces with its own manufactured defence equipment. To casually talk about the cancelling of contracts such as the Aircraft Carriers, Typhoon and the FRES armoured vehicles as if they are pieces on a chess board betrays the loyal hard working people who build these advanced pieces of equipment for our nation’s armed forces.”

“Both these parties fail to grasp that we must have the capability to research & design, manufacture, upgrade and repair our own defence equipment. The failed policy of purchasing equipment off the shelf from other nations would consign tens of thousands of UK workers to unemployment and it at a stroke leaves our nation in a weakened position by being dependent on others to supply equipment to our armed forces.”

“The muted and proposed cuts ignore the wider impact on employment due to the linkages and reliance of the supply chain companies on the sector. The dividing lines between the parties are evident. It is becoming ever clearer that the only way to secure our defence, aerospace and shipbuilding manufacturing base is to re-elect a Labour government next year.”

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • skud's sister

    So, they aren’t going to save the money my ditching Trident then. Damn.

  • Skuds

    Unfortunately not. Shame really.

    I know there are lots of jobs in the Barrow shipyards depending on the subs, but they could be just as gainfully employed knocking out another T45 destroyer or two, or another Astute sub instead.

    I imagine a lot of the cost of Trident is going to the US suppliers of the missiles, so no great loss to us if we scrapped it.

    Greenpeace estimate the total cost of Trident replacement to be £97bn over its lifetime. The entire defence budget at the moment is about £35bn so ploughing on with the Trident replacement makes no sense on economic grounds – not to mention the moral argument.