Clyde Shipyards work-in veterans back independence

VETERANS of the famous Upper Clyde Shipyards work-in of the early 1970s have declared support for independence.

Jimmy Reid addresses workers during the dispute in 1971. Picture: TSPL

Seven stalwarts of the protest, which was led by the late Jimmy Reid, have written an open letter to shipyard workers and firms urging them to vote Yes.

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There are concerns that independence could cost 16,000 shipbuilding jobs as crucial orders from the Royal Navy disappear, because the UK government says it will not build warships in a foreign country.

The UCS dispute attracted worldwide attention when workers effectively took over the running of five shipyards and eventually forced a government climbdown.

Work-in co-ordinating committee member Jimmy Coughley is among the signatories of the letter to all of Scotland’s shipyard workers.

He said: “The industry deserves more than being tied to BAE systems that will only build ships of war. When we have power to direct our industries as we did in the UCS, the shipyards on the Clyde will have a more fulfilling future.”

Davie Torrance, another member of the co-ordinating committee said: “When we were in the UCS, there were four yards building world-class ships. Now, after years of decline, a Yes vote is about giving the yards a new start and a healthy future, and bringing the powers to do it from London to Scotland.”

The Ministry of Defence has said contracts worth billions of pounds to build the next generation of Royal Navy frigates will not be awarded until after the referendum.

Ministers have indicated that these will be built on the Clyde, but it is feared the work will be moved if there is a Yes vote.