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Third Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture

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  The Rt. Hon. Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland, will deliver the Third Annual Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture “WORKERS’ RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS” on Tuesday 24th November at 6.30pm in the Bute Hall of University of Glasgow.  All the tickets have been taken up and the 1,000 strong audience will include members of Jimmy Reid’s family, along with veterans of the UCS dispute.

People without a ticket can still watch the Lecture live at  

The Lecture takes place against a backdrop of engineered uncertainty on the status of trade unions and fundamental human rights in the UK: the Trade Union Bill is currently being debated at the UK parliament and its provisions seek to weaken the ability of trade unions to represent their members; the UK government wants to change the mechanism to define and protect human rights and is about to publish proposals to abolish the Human Rights Act and introduce a Bill of Rights.  These developments are opposed by the Scottish Parliament.

A video which explains the issues and promotes the Lecture can be found at

The meeting will be chaired by Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the STUC.   The First Minister and guests will be welcomed by the Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anton Muscatelli. Following the speech, there will be a question and answer session. Our Director, Professor Gregor Gall, will make a short contribution on our work programme to conclude the event.

The Lecture honours workers’ leader Jimmy Reid, who delivered his inaugural address as rector of Glasgow University in the Bute Hall on 28th April 1972.   Jimmy delivered his famous “The rat race is for rats” speech and a souvenir programme will be available containing the text. His archives and those of the UCS Work-in are maintained by the University and some will be on display prior to the Lecture.

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland 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.”

Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said

“I am honoured that this year’s Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture is taking place in the Bute Hall at the University of Glasgow – the very place Jimmy Reid stood to deliver his powerful address in 1972 after being elected Rector by the student body. It also very fitting that the First Minister, a graduate of this University, will deliver the lecture. I will be delighted to welcome the First Minister, members of Jimmy Reid’s family and representatives of the Reid Foundation to the University.”

Grahame Smith, the general secretary of the STUC who is chairing the Lecture 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.  

“The Trade Union Movement is committed to resisting this Bill in every way that we can.  We support the view of the main political parties that it should be subject to a Legislative Consent Motion and will work with all of our colleagues in central and local government to make it unworkable if it is passed”

Professor Gregor Gall, Director of the Reid Foundation said:

“We are delighted to be working with Glasgow University to deliver the third Jimmy Reid Memorial address which is a celebration of the right to work as well as the legacy of Jimmy Reid which is to promote fairness, equally, in Scotland.”

Due to the level of interest, the STUC has arranged an overflow meeting at its centre in Woodlands Road in Glasgow and the lecture will now be streamed by Glasgow University so that people, everywhere, can watch the lecture live.  So far we know that people in Switzerland, Germany and North America will be tuning in as well as in Stirling and Inverness.

The Reid Foundation is grateful to the University of Glasgow for its assistance in organising the Lecture.

Additional information

  1. The Foundation has published a policy paper on this issue, available at our website, ‘Economic and Social Rights are Human Rights’
  2. On 10th November the Trade Union Bill received its third reading at the House of Commons and the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights announced pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill as “some significant human rights issues may arise”
  3. The Scottish Parliament voted in favour of the Human Rights Act 1998 on 11th November 2014 “ The Parliament re-affirms and re-asserts, on behalf of all of the people of the community of Scotland, the inalienable human rights and fundamental freedoms that are the common inheritance of all members of humanity; recalls the particular importance to the Parliament, through its founding statute, its founding principles and in all aspects of its day-to-day work, of human rights in general and of the European Convention on Human Rights in particular; acknowledges the constitutional responsibility of the Parliament to uphold the principles and values expressed in the convention and to respect, protect and realise the rights and freedoms that it enumerates; further acknowledges the importance of that work not only in relation to Scotland, but also in establishing and maintaining standards of best practice, which provide a benchmark for human rights elsewhere in the world; expresses its confidence in, and support for, the Human Rights Act 1998 as a successful and effective implementation of the convention in domestic law, and believes that the principles and values that inform the convention, the rights and freedoms that it enumerates and the Acts that incorporate it into law, should be a source of unity and consensus across the whole of society and should enjoy the unequivocal backing of all who are committed to upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law.”
  4. Information on the STUC parallel event, to which the Lecture will be streamed, can be found at
  5. To watch the Lecture live from other locations go to