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UCS - A Brave Defence

“We don't only build ships on the Clyde, we build men. They have taken on the wrong people and we will fight." - Jimmy Reid


Occupations and sit-ins in Britain have been primarily used as a defensive method in union struggles as a means to oppose redundancies in a more determined manner. Occupying work-places are seen as a tactical improvement on conventional striking. After all, It’s warmer sitting-in, rather than standing outside picketing .

The Upper Clyde Shipyards Shipyards (UCS) work-in of 1971–72 posed, implicitly if not explicitly, the question of workers’ control of industry. Sit-in strikes challenges property rights and no matter how temporary, it does represent a seizure of ‘company property’ which is held ransom until the workers’ demands are hopefully met. No employer likes the idea of having their property seized, or having their plant used as bargaining power. But if the occupation is peaceful and unlikely to spread, why risk confrontation by management instiga…