ASLEF at Congress: Tuesday (industrial strategy)

12 September 2018

Motion 1, on Britain’s industrial strategy, and an economy for the many, not the few, was moved by Tony Burke of Unite; seconded by Debbie Reay of ASLEF; and supported by Steve Nicholson of Prospect. It was passed unanimously on Tuesday afternoon.

‘We have heard for many years, politicians talking about the need for an industrial strategy,’ said Debbie, of Northern Line North. ‘One that shifts the balance of our economy. One that considers the supply chain and supports manufacturing, construction and infrastructure. But for two long it’s been just that. Talk.

‘Talk is cheap and we have yet to see anywhere near enough investment under the Tory-led coalition, the last Tory government, nor do we hold our breath with this Tory minority government.

‘The World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index ranks Britain 24th in the world in perceived quality of infrastructure. Our transport infrastructure is ranked 13th and our railways 18th. Britain is the fifth biggest economy in the world. Therefore, creating infrastructure to match our status could dramatically bolster our economy.

‘The OECD points out that “governments in many countries are currently able to borrow for long periods at very low interest rates” and therefore has urged them to increase spending on public investment projects. These will in turn more than pay for themselves.

‘Its report explains that a 0.5 per cent of GDP investment in infrastructure, which amounts to around £9 billion, could boost GDP by almost 0.6% knock and 0.2% off the nation’s debt as a share of GDP. This means such a stimulus effectively pays for itself. Yet, despite this, the Tories have done very little to support our infrastructure, including our transport network.

‘They’ve reneged on their promise to electrify the Great Western main line from Cardiff to Swansea, the Midland main line and tracks in the Lake District. This, despite many assurances over the years, that the work was going to happen.

‘Electrified rail is faster, greener, more efficient, and more reliable. Despite the government’s protestations that bi-mode trains are a better alternative, we know that they are not the long-term answer to our transport needs. This represents short-termism and the same old Tory agenda of cuts.

‘Not only would the electrified lines have improved the transport network, the work would have brought good quality jobs, in regions that have not had the same investment as the south-east and the possibility of apprenticeships and training opportunities. 

‘Infrastructure investment could be an opportunity to stimulate our economy through creating quality jobs in many sectors such engineering, transport, and in the growing green economy.

Yet, earlier this year, we heard the stark warning that the UK will miss its legally binding carbon targets without urgent government action.

‘The Committee on Climate Change said vague ambitions, such as banning new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, must be turned into solid plans. The UK has a target of an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. This is not only the right thing to do in order to ensure our planet remains sustainable. It can also be an opportunity to create new jobs, apprenticeships and industries. 

‘So let us create an economy for the many, with an industrial strategy that promotes quality jobs, sustainability, and strong workers’ rights. Let the UK be at the forefront of new technologies and the fight against climate change.’   

 

 

 

 

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