Anti-Trident activists enter Leeds firm as part of global action, to protest its involvement in nuclear weapons production

Anti-Trident activists enter Leeds firm as part of global action, to protest its involvement in nuclear weapons production
Anti-Trident activists enter Leeds firm as part of global action, to
protest its involvement in nuclear weapons production

Today, activists from Leeds and Bradford have gathered at the offices of
JACOBS Engineering in Leeds to mark the Global Day of Action on Military
Spending <http://www.demilitarize.org/> (GDAMS). Some protesters have
entered the building to engage the workers on the issue of JACOBS
involvement in the consortium which is undertaking construction at the
Atomic Weapons Establishments in Berkshire.

Others have tied long banners to the outside of the building and are
distributing leaflets to other workers and passers-by.

The action in Leeds is part of GDAMS, and is being carried out in
solidarity with the peaceful blockade of Faslane
<http://www.scraptrident.org/> Nuclear Weapons base in Scotland, and a
Protest Party at the Ministry of Defence in London
<http://cnduk.org/get-involved/events/item/2109-vote-out-trident-party-protest>
happening today also. Other actions and events are happening across the
globe.

Jacobs Engineering, together with Lockheed Martin and Serco, is one of the
companies in the AWE Management Ltd consortium which currently manages the
Atomic Weapons Establishment, where the UK's nuclear weapons are
manufactured and maintained. The consortium has a 25 year contract,
currently worth around £1 billion per year, which was supposed to run until
2025. However, only last month it was discovered that the government was
considering scrapping the contract due to spiralling costs and poor
performance (1). Project Pegasus (2), the £634m project which will
manufacture enriched uranium components for the UK’s nuclear warheads, is
now ‘in limbo’ after a catalogue of failings in the planning and
construction stages* Jacobs Engineering were accused of lacking ‘the
calibre or credentials to run major projects’ (3)*

Kate Bell, one of the protesters inside the building, said

“*It's just outrageous that JACOBS have been paid such vast amounts of
public money for an unethical and undemocratic contract. And to make
matters worse, it may now all be wasted due to their incompetence. We're
not blaming the individual workers, although we do want to make sure
they're aware of the unethical business that their employer is engaged in.
The country needs people with their skills, and we're encouraging them to
diversify – to use their skills to engineer a better future”*

Dave Webb, Chair of National CND and resident in Leeds, also on the
protest, commented,

“*huge sums of taxpayers money are being poured into the Trident nuclear
weapons system, before parliament has even debated whether to replace it or
not. We want to highlight the travesty of democracy that this represents.
While the CEOs of companies like Jacobs are getting richer through this
massive input of public money, there are people in this city depending on
food banks to survive. It's completely unethical to spend £100 billion on
weapons of mass destruction, which are not just immoral, but also illegal,
at a time when public services and the NHS are in crisis”* (4)

For more information please contact 07717 606189 or 07737 596808

The banners on the Jacobs office building at 1 City Walk, Leeds read
“JACOBS: Engineer us a better future NOT a nuclear apocalypse” , “Trident
is Terrorism” , “Global Day of Action on Military Spending. Public money
for public services not private profit”

Photos are available – please contact 07912 569521

Notes to Editors:

1) According to documents provided to Nuclear Information Service under the
Freedom of Information Act (
http://www.nuclearinfo.org/article/awe-aldermaston/warhead-factorys-flagship-construction-project-placed-hold
)

2) Project Pegasus and Project Mensa are both part of the Nuclear Weapons
Capability Sustainment Programme – a secretive Ministry of Defence
programme of investment at the Atomic Weapons Establishment aimed at
ensuring the Establishment retains the capability to develop and
manufacture nuclear weapons into the middle of the current century.  Under
the programme, which commenced in 2005, spending at the Atomic Weapons
Establishment has risen to around £1 billion per year, half of which is
capital expenditure on new buildings and facilities.

Yet, unlike other major MoD spending programmes, the Nuclear Weapons
Capability Sustainment Programme is not scrutinised as part of the annual
review of Defence Major Projects
<http://www.nao.org.uk/report/major-projects-report-2014-and-the-equipment-plan-2014-to-2024/>
conducted by the National Audit Office.  Oversight of the project beyond
the MoD takes place only behind closed doors by HM Treasury's Major
Projects Review Group as part of the broader management arrangements for
the Trident replacement programme.

3) Much of the blame for difficulties with Project Pegasus and Project
Mensa has been placed on Jacobs Engineering – one of the three parent
companies in the AWE consortium, and leader of AWE's infrastructure upgrade
programme.  The AWE contract is said to represent among the biggest profit
margins within the Jacobs business portfolio, and the company has been
accused of assigning inadequately skilled personnel with no track record of
delivery - known within AWE project management circles as the “Jacobs
mafia” – to manage projects at AWE.  According to insiders, “the entire
Jacobs element in the AWE organisation represents a weak delivery element,
with nobody of the calibre or credentials to run major projects”.

(4) For more information on the illegality and the costs of the proposed
Trident replacement, see www.cnduk.org or www.yorkshirecnd.org.uk