Ex-union boss Jimmy Reid dies at 78

FORMER trade union leader Jimmy Reid has died at the age of 78, it was announced today.

Mr Reid rose to international prominence when he led a "work-in" of thousands of ship-builders on the Clyde during 1971 and 1972.

He died at Inverclyde Royal hospital in Greenock last night after falling ill at the weekend. He leaves behind a wife, Joan, and three daughters, Eileen, Sandra and Julie.

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Long-time friend and former Scottish Labour Party chairman Bob Thomson said: "Jimmy Reid was a courageous and steadfast fighter for working people and their families.

"At the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) work-in he proved that organised workers could defeat an unthinking government and uncaring big business. A self-taught intellectual and philosopher, he did not curry favour or seek self-advancement.

"He told the truth, often at great cost to himself."

The UCS dispute came to worldwide prominence as Mr Reid led the fight against Conservative plans to withdraw millions of pounds of investment in the yard, which would have seen 6,000 to 8,500 job losses.

The workers decided to manage and operate the UCS shipyards until the Government climbed down.

Mr Reid warned workers during a speech at the time: "There will be no hooliganism, there will be no vandalism, there will be no bevvying because the world is watching us - and it`s our responsibility to conduct ourselves responsibly, and with dignity and with maturity."

The work-in saved the yard as Tory prime minister Edward Heath reversed his decision not to support the UCS.

Mr Reid was installed as rector of Glasgow University in 1972 and famously commented in his inaugural speech that "the rat race is for rats".

A lifelong socialist, he stood as a Communist Party candidate in 1974 and polled over 6,000 votes in the Dunbartonshire Central constituency. He went on to join Labour before switching to the SNP.

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He retired to the island of Bute, and was living in Rothesay at the time of his death.

He was also convenor of the Scottish Left Review and was the driving force a decade ago in founding the Review as an online forum for the left in Scotland.

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