Sir Gavin Laird CBE: Progressive voice in the trade union movement

Sir Gavin Laird, centre, addresses a meeting at the Singer sewing machine factory in Clydebank in 1978.
Sir Gavin Laird, centre, addresses a meeting at the Singer sewing machine factory in Clydebank in 1978.
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Sir Gavin Laird, trade union leader. Born: March 14, 1933. Died: October 26, 2017, aged 84.

Sir Gavin Laird, who was an outstanding leader and progressive voice in the trade union and Labour movement, has died at the age of 84.

Sir Gavin was proud to be the general secretary of the AEU and the AEEU (a forerunner of the union Unite) from 1982 to1995, and was an influential figure in both the TUC and the Labour Party throughout the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.

Sir Gavin held many ­public sector posts, notably as a non-executive director of the Court of the Bank of England from 1986 to 1994. He served as either a non-executive director or chairman of other bodies including the Highlands and Islands Development Board; the British National Oil Corporation; the Scottish Council for Development and Industry; the Arts Council of Great Britain; Scottish Television; the Forestry Commission; Greater Manchester Buses; the Armed Forces Pay Review Body; ­Britannia Life Ltd; and Edinburgh Investment Trust.

Sir Gavin held Doctors of Letters (honorary) from both Heriot-Watt University and Keele University. He was ­further honoured with a CBE in 1987 and a knighthood in 1997. He died peacefully at home in the presence of his wife and daughter.