The Labour Movement and the Arms Trade

The Trade Union Movement and the Arms Trade at the TUC Conference

In 2017 the TUC passed a motion calling for the diversification of the arms industry.  In 2022 the TUC annual conference debated a motion to reverse this stand, in view of the war in Ukraine and the new possibilities for military contracts from the newly formed AUKUS (military alliance between the UK the US and Australia.)

From the Morning Star:

Peace activists rally against motion backing arms spend

PEACE campaigners rallied outside the Brighton Centre yesterday to lobby TUC delegates to vote against a motion backing weapons manufacturing and opposing the defence diversification policy adopted in 2017. 

Composite 2, moved by GMB and backed by prison officers’ union POA, argues that “defence manufacturing cuts have hindered the UK’s ability to aid the Ukrainian people under brutal assault from Putin’s regime. 

“Congress believes that the world is becoming less safe and the policy carried in 2017 in favour of diversifying away from defence manufacturing is no longer fit for purpose.” 

It also calls for government procurement to support British- based and owned manufacturers and condemns the outsourcing of defence contracts to foreign companies. 

The Stop the War Coalition said the motion, due to be heard today, carried “serious dangers.” 

Activists chanted “Welfare not warfare” and passed leaflets to delegates arguing they should oppose it. 

National officer Chris Nineham said if passed “it would imply that the labour movement is swinging behind the Tory drive for more military spending and foreign wars at a time when they are smashing working-class living standards and threatening more cuts to welfare. 

“These are 100 per cent wrong priorities for the trade union movement. It’s always working people and the poor who suffer from wars whether it’s in Afghanistan, Yemen or Ukraine. 

“We should be pushing for peaceful resolutions and for money to be spent on health and housing, transport and green technologies, welfare and civilian infrastructure — things that working people need. Not weapons of mass destruction.” 

The GMB motion, supported by Unite among others, was passed by 2,556,000 votes to 2,469,000.

On the subject of Stop the War Coalition (StWC), the following letter was published in the Morning Star 22/10/22:

Is StWC being deplatformed?

TWO Stop the War Coalition “How to stop the war in Ukraine” meetings in Muswell Hill, north London, have been cancelled by those in charge of the venues.

The first was due in a local pub, until the new manager was harassed and intimidated into cancelling the booking.

The second was due in the local Friends’ Meeting House but was cancelled after a lot of pressure was exerted.

This is worrying.

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