Sunday, July 09, 2006

Is UNISON an anti-nuclear Union?

It is good to see that the Government’s review of energy policy will commit it to increase renewables – but scary that the Government are clearly keen to build new nuclear power stations (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,,1815874,00.html).

Tony Blair presumably wants a (radioactive) legacy which will last for centuries!

A recent expression of UNISON’s position on nuclear power was at last year’s National Labour Link Forum which stated that; “UNISON Labour Link supports ‘green’ energy production and welcomes the Labour Government’s energy policy, which rules out future use of nuclear power once provision has been made to access Government funding to
accommodate the retraining/redeployment of those Nuclear Energy jobs that
will be lost.” Details of the policies adopted at last year’s UNISON Labour Link forum are at http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/B1941.pdf.

UNISON Conference has never taken a clear policy position on nuclear power – the issue comes to a head each year when our delegation to the TUC Congress (the annual meeting of all trade unions in the UK) when we have to decide how to vote on a composite motion about energy policy which normally says something nice about nuclear power (because several other large unions have significant membership in the nuclear industry).

It is the received wisdom in UNISON that we have a policy against new nuclear power stations but are not necessarily for the immediate closure of existing nuclear plants.

Since being on the on the NEC, and therefore attending the TUC as part of UNISON’s delegation I have asked from time to time about where our policy was agreed. At this year’s national delegate Conference I was given the answer.

The last record of a Conference decision is of one of our former partner unions, NALGO, in 1987. It is quite right that NALGO in 1987 (the year after the Chernobyl disaster) did not call for the immediate closure of all nuclear power stations. That Conference called for nuclear power to be phased out within 20 years! (Check a calendar and work out what that means today…)

Now that the nuclear lobby have seduced the Prime Minister I hope that UNISON will be lining up more clearly with the anti-nuclear lobby. I shall report back on discussions in the run up to this year’s TUC!
For the latest information on opposition to nuclear power you can visit the anti-nuclear power page of the website of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND); http://www.cnduk.org/pages/campaign/npwr.html

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