Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Limited
The consolidation was a result of the Geddes Report
, published in 1966, and the subsequent Shipbuilding Industry Act 1967 (sponsored by the Minister of Technology
, then Anthony Wedgwood Benn
) which recommended rationalisation and horizontal integration
of shipbuilding in the United Kingdom into large regional groups, aided with grants from the state Shipbuilding Industry Board, in order to achieve economies of scale
and better compete in the market for increasingly large merchant vessels
. The creation of these groupings included Scott Lithgow
on the Lower Clyde
, Swan Hunter
and Robb Caledon
on the east coast of Scotland.
The government had a 48.4% minority holding in the consortium and provided a £5.5m interest-free government loan over the first three years. UCS had a combined order book at the time worth £87m.
Collapse of UCS
After the company's collapse, rather than striking, unions representing the shipyard's workers decided to conduct a "work-in
" to complete orders already in place.
One objective was to dispel the idea of the workers being 'work-shy' and also illustrate the long-term viability of the yards and the right to work
The work-in was led by a group of young shop stewards, including Jimmy Reid
, Jimmy Airlie
, Sammy Barr
and Sammy Gilmore
, the former three being members of the Communist Party of Great Britain
Reid wanted to ensure the workers projected the best image of the yard workers he possibly could, and he insisted on tight discipline. He addressed the workers at the yards, where he instructed them that there should be "no hooliganism, no vandalism and no bevvying [drinking]".
The shipbuilders' tactics worked, and public sympathy in the Glasgow
area and beyond was on the side of the workers who took part. That was backed up with demonstrations in Glasgow, one of which was attended by around 80,000 marchers.
At one demonstration, on Glasgow Green
, Tony Benn
addressed those in attendance, and Matt McGinn
and Billy Connolly
(both former shipyard workers) offered entertainment to the gathered crowd. The campaign was also well-backed financially, and at one meeting for the campaign, Jimmy Reid was able to announce that the campaign had received a £5,000 contribution from John Lennon
, to which an attendee replied "but Lenin
's deid!" (dead).
Analysis of the work-in
Conservative government would be more far-reaching in its attempts to remove state involvement in industrial affairs.
Restructuring and aftermath
In February 1972, the Conservative government relented to the demands of the workers, and restructured the yards around two new companies: Govan Shipbuilders
was established (formerly Fairfields), along with its subsidiary Scotstoun Marine Ltd
(formerly Connells). Yarrow Shipbuilders
had already withdrawn from UCS in April 1970 and regained its status as an independent company (until 1977, when it was nationalised as part of British Shipbuilders
, along with Govan Shipbuilders). A fourth yard, at Clydebank (formerly John Brown), was sold to Marathon Oil
as an oil-rig fabrication yard; which eventually closed in 2001.
The former Alexander Stephens and Sons
yard at Linthouse was closed in 1972 after the liquidation of UCS.
As of 2012, two major shipyards on the Upper Clyde (the former Yarrow and Fairfields yards) remain in operation, as BAE Systems Surface Ships
, owned by the defence contractor BAE Systems
. It focuses principally on the design and construction of technologically advanced warships for the Royal Navy
and other navies around the world.
- ^ a b c [dead link]
- ^ Strategies of Growth, Diversification and Rationalization in the Evolution of Concentration in British Shipbuilding, D. Todd, 1983 Pdfserve.informaworld.com
- ^ "Glasgow Caledonian University Archives". Gcu.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 20 January 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
- ^ Modern Shandon shipbuilding boss[permanent dead link] Helensborough Heritage, 29 December 2008
- ^ [dead link]
- ^ There will be bevvying, The Scotsman, 16 July 2002
- ^ "Scran : Marchers supporting the Upper Clydeside Shipbuilders, Glasgow, 1971". Scran.ac.uk. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
- ^ "Sunnygovan.com". Sunnygovan.com. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
- ^ Hollowell, Jonathan (13 December 2002). Britain Since 1945. ISBN 9780631209683. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
Last edited on 24 March 2021, at 16:04
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