THE TENS of billions of pounds the government intends to spend on new weapons of mass destruction should be spent on public services, said the RMT transport workers’ union yesterday.
The union made its call on the eve of today’s House of Commons vote on Trident replacement, which the Blair regime is set to win because it has the backing of the Tories.
Yesterday ministerial aide Jim Devine became the second government official to resign over Trident.
The Livingston MP quit his job as a parliamentary private secretary at the Department of Health, the day after House of Commons deputy leader Nigel Griffiths left his post on Monday.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said yesterday: ‘Today the government is publishing a bill which underlines the need for action to save the planet, yet tomorrow they intend to force through plans to spend billions on nuclear weapons that can help destroy it.
‘The £75 billion that could be wasted on the new Trident could go a long way to helping Britain reduce carbon emissions, build some of the transport infrastructure we desperately need and bolster our public services.
‘Forcing Trident through with the help of Tory votes, in the face of public opinion, shows just how divorced from the real world the government has become.
‘Blair took us into an illegal war over weapons of mass destruction that didn’t even exist, and now he wants to tear up the nuclear non-proliferation treaty to build some new ones of his own – there is only one word for that, and it is hypocrisy.’
An RMT motion adopted by the TUC Congress last September, stated: ‘Congress believes that Britain’s nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction, capable of killing millions of people and are tied into US military and foreign policy and that far from deterring nuclear threats, replacing Trident may increase the risk of nuclear conflict . . .
‘Congress calls upon the Government not to replace Trident and also requests that the General Council urgently explores how it can work with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament to oppose the replacement of Trident . . .’
The RMT also demanded yesterday that Metronet must not be allowed to scale down renewals work on the Tube network to claw back up to £750 million in cost over-runs.
The RMT warned that the consortium would seek to cut costs by slashing refurbishment projects and outsourcing work on the cheap.
Crow said: ‘It is quite right that taxpayers and farepayers should not have to foot the bill for Metronet’s failings, but there is no way Metronet should be allowed to skimp on the work it is supposed to deliver either.
‘Our members at Metronet will tomorrow start voting in a ballot for strike action to prevent engineering staff being forcibly transferred to Metronet shareholder companies, which include Bombardier, Balfour Beatty, WS Atkins and EDF.
‘We have said time and again that failure and fragmentation are built into the very fabric of the PPP contracts, and the solution is to bring the work back in-house and under the direct control of London Underground.’
• Second news story
NOT GUILTY VERDICT ‘A TRAVESTY’ SAYS PHIL SHINER
A COURT martial has cleared two UK officers of failing to ensure their men did not abuse Iraqi civilians in Basra, leading to the death of one.
Major Michael Peebles and Warrant Officer Mark Davies had denied charges of negligently performing their duties.
Four of their colleagues, including commanding officer Colonel Jorge Mendonca, had previously been cleared at the hearing in Bulford, Wiltshire.
Corporal Donald Payne has pleaded guilty to a charge of inhumane treatment.
The solicitor for the Iraqis who were kicked and beaten by British troops, Phil Shiner, called the verdict ‘a travesty’.
One of the Iraqis Baha Mousa died from the effect of the 93 separate injuries to his body.
Phil Shiner, the solicitor for the beaten Iraqis, said: ’There were ten Iraqi civilians taken into detention at the UK detention facility in Basra.
‘Over the next two days or so, it was a matter of public record in these proceedings, that these Iraqis were beaten, abused, tortured, hooded and stressed.
‘As a result Baha Mousa was killed, another man was very nearly killed. Eight other men were badly abused. The soldiers subjected the Iraqis to ritualised abuse including one game that involved a competition to see who could kickbox the hooded detainees the furthest.
‘The medical evidence in these proceedings show that Baha Mousa died from 93 injuries.
‘Mr Justice McKinnon found that the evidence was clear that these injuries were sustained as a result of numerous assaults over 36 hours by unidentified persons.
‘He said none of those soldiers has been charged with any offence simply because there is no evidence against them as a result of a more or less obvious closing of ranks.
‘It was in the words of one soldier witness a free for all. It appears to be nothing less than systematic punishment on behalf of the regiment in the mistaken belief that these Iraqis were responsible for the death of one of the battalion.
‘The outcome is a travesty.’