WHAT: Interview opportunity with Len McCluskey to coincide with Unite’s special defence conference
WHEN: Monday 21 March 2016
WHERE: Preston Guild Hall, Lancaster Road, Preston PR1 1HT
The UK’s largest defence union Unite will bring defence workers and leading industry figures together in Preston for a special conference to discuss growing frustrations with the government’s short term decision-making in the defence sector and the urgent need for UK money to be spent supporting UK workers.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey is expected to tell the workers gathered from the country’s major defence manufacturers that urgent action is needed or the UK will lose its sovereign capability. Warning that the UK is already too reliant on overseas competitors to supply and maintain the nation’s defence systems, he will say that UK defence jobs and communities are at risk if the current practice of spending UK money on US defence manufacturers continues.
With 50,000 defence jobs lost in the last decade, and major government spending decisions looming, Unite says that the entire industry is at a crossroads – the wrong decisions could see the UK’s skills and capacity to support its own independent national defence programme destroyed.
The union will also be launching its ‘Defend our Spend’ campaign to press the government to keep UK defence spending in Britain as figures reveal that defence firms outside the UK are set to receive more and more of the UK’s defence budget, undermining British jobs and skills.
Analysts predict that as much as 25 pence in the pound of UK defence spend could be being spent in US factories by 2020 – over double the current amount of 12 pence in the pound.
Calls from the day are expected to be that the government must cease the political game playing around the Successor programme and that the UK urgently needs a diverse defence industrial strategy to match those of the UK’s competitors. The discussions will also feed into Unite’s submission to Labour’s defence review.
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