25 November 2015
The First Minister delivered the third annual Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture in the Bute Hall of Glasgow University.
The speech – called Workers’ rights are human rights – outlined the Scottish Government’s opposition to the UK Government’s Trade Union Bill, as well as making the moral case for fair work and how we empower people throughout our society.
The event was held in the same location as Jimmy Reid made his world-famous rectorial address in 1972.
The First Minister said:
When Jimmy Reid spoke here in April 1972, it was towards the end of the Upper Clyde Shipworkers dispute. The work-in which Reid helped to organise was arguably the greatest achievement of the post war union movement. It asserted the fundamental right of individuals to work. It did so through a peaceful, positive protest which captured the imagination of people around the world.
“It is a reminder that trade unions are a source of empowerment. They provide a voice for those who might otherwise go unheard. The right to strike is an essential part of that, but the real value of trade unions goes much wider. They help employers to create the safe, humane, productive working conditions which head off industrial disputes – and which build better businesses. Because of that, trade unions are a force for good in modern societies.”
Grahame Smith, the general secretary of the STUC who chaired the event said:
The address by the First Minister to the annual Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture could not be more timely. The values expressed by Jimmy in his famous address espoused the importance of solidarity and basic values of decency which trade unions uphold on a daily basis.
“The Trade Union bill strikes at the very heart of democracy, at both the democratic right to assembly and representation in the workplace and at the devolution settlement itself. The Bill is an attack upon on human rights and a completely unwarranted interference in the right of government in Scotland, at all levels, to conduct industrial relations as best suits their vision of workplace democracy.”
Professor Gregor Gall, Director of the Reid Foundation said:
“Trade unionists are alarmed at the blatant attack on their trade union rights, which are fundamental human rights such as the right to peacefully protest. Workers also value the human right ‘to an adequate standard of living’ which is often at the heart of what trade union action is designed to achieve.
“Jimmy Reid famously had a ‘work in’ not a strike to emphasise the importance of work to families across Scotland and standing up for trade union rights is an important aspect of the Foundation’s remit which is to honour the legacy of Jimmy Reid.”
The event was organised by the Jimmy Reid Foundation, an independent think tank set up in memory of Jimmy Reid. The First Minister met some of Jimmy Reid’s family before she spoke.