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Trade Unions in Economic and Social Life: Past, Present and Future

March 22, 2017
Hamilton Campus > Caird Building, University of the West of Scotland

Caird Building
Almada Street
Hamilton ML3 0JB
United Kingdom

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30 years after the Caterpillar Occupation

The UWS-Oxfam Partnership Policy Forum

Presents a FREE EVENT

Trade Unions in Economic and Social Life: Past, Present and Future

Venue: The University of the West of Scotland, Hamilton Campus, Caird Building, Wednesday 22nd March, 2017, 2pm-3.45pm (easily accessible from Hamilton West railway station - with a light lunch and refreshments from 1pm).

Over the past three years, the UWS-Oxfam Partnership’s Policy Forum events have contributed to the debate on how to create ‘a more equitable and sustainable Scotland’. Policy Forum events on inequality, social justice, ‘decent work’, local communities, and sustainability have highlighted the vital role that trade unions need to play in economic and social life if these closely interconnected issues, which are so important to so many across the world, are to be addressed.

Strong unions increase wages and well-being, reduce vulnerability and exploitation, improve fairness in taxation and social security, strengthen communities in their local campaigns, and shift the balance of power in economic and social life to increase social justice. Vitally, as the Club of Rome’s Graeme Maxton argued at our November 2016 Policy Forum, trade unions are crucial in ‘reinventing prosperity’. This means managing economic growth to meet the extraordinary challenges of technological change (threatening further mass unemployment), inequality and climate change.

For decades, and well within living memory, trade unions played a central role in Scotland’s economic and social life. However, over the past four decades their reach and influence have declined significantly. This Policy Forum will bring together participants to discuss the potential for trade unions to play the heightened role in economic and social life called for by the extraordinary challenges of our times.

The UWS-Oxfam Partnership is particularly pleased to be able to host this event at the UWS Hamilton Campus with the participation of some of the trade unionists who, exactly 30 years ago, led the 103 day occupation which sought to prevent closure of the Caterpillar factory in nearby Uddingston. The Partnership will use the anniversary of this remarkable event as the basis for a reflective discussion on ‘Trade Unions in Economic and Social Life: Past, Present and Future’.


2.00 Francis Stuart (Research and Policy Adviser, Oxfam Scotland): Welcome and Introduction

2.10 John Foster (Emeritus Professor, UWS): ‘Trade Unions in Economic and Social Life: Past, Present and Future’

2.25 Members of the Caterpillar Workers’ Legacy Group in conversation with Dr Ewan Gibbs (Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy, UWS): ‘Thirty Years on: Reflections on the Relevance of the Caterpillar Occupation Today’

2.40 Ann Henderson (Assistant Secretary, Scottish Trade Union Congress): ‘Trade Unions in Scotland Today: The Challenges and the Way Ahead’

2.55 Patricia Findlay (Professor of Work and Employment Relations, University of Strathclyde and Academic Adviser to the Fair Work Convention):‘Organising for Fair Work in Scotland’

3.10 Bryan Simpson and Sarah Collins (Better than Zero): 'Fighting For Justice in the Modern Workplace - The Better than Zero Campaign'

3.25-3.45 Discussion – Trade Unions for a Better Future? (Chaired by Chik Collins, Professor of Applied Social Science, UWS)

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March 15, 2017, 9:00am BST

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