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Jimmy ReidA Clyde-built man$
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W.W.J. Knox and Alan McKinlay

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620832

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620832.001.0001

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UCS Work-in

UCS Work-in

(p.95) 4 UCS Work-in
Jimmy Reid

W.W.J. Knox

A. McKinlay

Liverpool University Press

Chapter four deals with the UCS work-in: an event to which Jimmy Reid owes his fame and his place in the pantheon of Scottish radicalism. Although he was not the only leader of the workforce, it was his powers of communication and leadership which became the symbol of the coalition of resistance that developed on the Clyde in response to the Tory government's attempt to close the down the yards and throw the men on the industrial scrapheap. The decision by the leadership to stage a work-in rather than go on strike or stage a sit-in caught the imagination of constituencies of people way beyond the geographical parameters of the upper reaches of the River Clyde. The chapter challenges the received triumphal narrative in several ways: firstly, by stressing the role of the forgotten liquidator, Robert Smith, in keeping the yards open and the men working; and, secondly, by examining the legacy, arguing that although the work-in undoubtedly constituted a victory of sorts for the UCS workers the road ahead proved a rocky one. The analysis differs from previously published material on the event in as much as it is the only study to utilise the transcripts of meetings and interviews with the UCS shop steward’s committee and the only one to establish the chain of relationships between the CPGB leadership, the local cadres and the work-in.

Keywords:   Clydeside, Shipbuilding, Industrial Relations, Communism, Work-in

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