Sam Browse urges trade unionists to support the Stop the War Coalition motion for an economy that reflects the real interests of workers

Following their well-attended trade union conference in January, The Stop the War Coalition (StWC) are encouraging trade unionists to pass a model motion in their branches on demilitarising the economy, diversifying the arms sector, and reducing arms spending. The motion comes after last year’s TUC conference narrowly passed policy backing increased investment in arms manufacturing.

The only conditions under which a manufacturing sector dominated by the arms industry can securely thrive are conditions of permanent war. To put it simply, the militarised economy is a vehicle not for advancing the interests of workers but the casino bankers, the oil barons, and the bosses – at the expense of workers.

Calling for more investment in the arms industry now is also to offer more resources to a reactionary foreign policy which sees the government license arms shipments to human rights abusers such as Saudi Arabia and Israel. The labour movement should not be servicing the needs of a Tory economic policy designed to prop up profits at the expense of people and planet.

Instead, the structure of our domestic economy and the content of our industrial strategy should be geared towards aims which benefit workers – for example, investment in renewables, green infrastructure, food security, and – yes – peace and the global security that comes with that. That means disarmament and the diversification of our existing arms industry into more socially useful forms of production, with appropriate jobs guarantees and protections.

Rather than provide yet more resources for the bosses’ foreign policy, we should argue for a socialist foreign policy based on saying no to the arms trade and supporting demilitarisation and defence diversification.

Trade unionists should support the Stop the War motion below for an economy that reflects the real interests of workers on the world stage – an economy for peace, people and planet.

Stop the War Coalition Model Motion:

This union notes:

• the continuing cost-of-living crisis, the squeeze on real wages being applied to millions of workers and the cuts being applied by the Tory government to vital services.

• that the Royal United Services Institute has calculated the increasing arms spending to 3% of GDP, as the government seeks to do, would mean either a 5% increase in income tax or VAT, or equivalent cuts in other public spending. Either option would be devastating for working-class people and communities.

Under these circumstances, it believes that:

• it is inappropriate for the trade union movement to campaign for an increase in military spending. While recognising that unions will rightly campaign to protect members’ jobs wherever they work, an increase in the arms bill is an ineffective way to create additional jobs in manufacturing. State resources should instead be used to create new skilled green jobs in industry.

• Additionally, we reaffirm our long-standing support for defence diversification as a means of guaranteeing continuing appropriate employment at good rates of pay for workers in the sector. We urge the next Labour government to act on these proposals.

• We also note that Britain often supplies arms to reactionary regimes and for aggressive purposes, most blatantly in respect of the war being waged against the Yemeni people by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as using those weapons for its own illegal wars as in Iraq.

This union reaffirms its commitment to the peaceful resolution of international disputes and urges the labour movement to campaign for these ends.


Source: Labour Outlook

28 Feb 2023 by Sam Browse

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