UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Glasgow commemorates 40th anniversary of UCS occupation

Trade unionists and the wider community are set to mark the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest moments in Scottish Working Class History – the Clyde Ship Yard Workers occupation to save their Ship Yard. A successful occupation that was characterised by the leadership of Jimmy Reid (‘there will be discipline and no bevying’) the workers took over the yard to stop its closure. http://www.scotsman.com/news/chris_bartter_anniversary_of_work_in_is_a_timely_inspiration_1_2035032

Occupation seems to be a lost tactic of the Labour Movement. Inspired by General Motors workers who occupied their factory in Flint Michigan in 1937 the sit in tactic spread across the states involving tens of thousands of workers and led to the formation of one of the most powerful unions in US History – the Union of Automobile Workers UAW.

Maybe we should look back at these struggles – eager to re learn?

As part of the Celtic Connections festival, a UCS Work-in 40th anniversary concert is scheduled for February 5. Concentrating more on the music and artistic side, it will feature a number of stars from last October’s gala concert alongside new artists, and is again being produced by Fair Pley with musical direction by Rab Noakes and Hilary Brooks.

The line-up for the Fruitmarket venue, is still being finalised, but it will again feature the new commission for traditional band, brass, saxophone and cello, ‘Work-in at UCS - a celebration suite’ composed by prominent Scottish composer, Eddie McGuire of the Whistlebinkies.

Eddie wrote an original piece for saxophones in 1971, that he presented to Jimmy Reid. Forty years later, this one was presented to Jimmy Cloughley of the Joint Shop Stewards at the Gala Concert. Eddie says:

“The spirit of resistance and dignity demonstrated by the workers in the yards inspired me at the time to compose a piece for saxophones which I handed to Jimmy Reid in December 1971. I was really honoured, 40 years on, to be asked by those veterans of the struggle to compose for them once more. I am inspired again - this time to rekindle that spirit so needed again today. We are keeping the links strong, with Maya Burman-Roy again playing the opening cello. Maya is the cello teacher to Jimmy Reid’s granddaughter!”