Union veterans and leaders from across the UK united to mark Clydebank’s pivotal role in one of the country’s most high-profile industrial disputes of the 20th century - and the lessons it can teach the labour movement today.

The Upper Clyde Shipyard (UCS) work-in of 1971 became a beacon not only for the “right to work” but also for the union and political movements that followed.

Clydebank’s Trades Union Council organised the Zoom-based meeting which attracted voices from across Scotland as well as England and Northern Ireland.

Clydebank resident Mary Senior, president of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, said the work-in was “not the easiest tactic to replicate” but encouraged trade unionists today to consider “creative outcomes”.

“This was very much more than a local industrial dispute,” she added.

“It became about workers and communities as a whole.

“UCS really was a momentous victory and a tremendous legacy for the movement in Scotland.”

Professor John Foster, co-author of a book about the work-in, said: “Any collective action by workers challenges the assumptions of the kind of society in which we live today - a capitalist society.

“It will be resisted, and it’s knowing how to counter this.

“The UCS was marked out as being led by those by those who had that perspective. It was not completely unique, but it was fairly unique.

“And the result of that strategy and tactics was it united people across Britain on the right to work.”

The work-in tactic was implemented to keep control of the struggle in the hands of the shop stewards and keep workers united. The “right to work” was central.

Professor Foster added: “The most important thing to understand is the relationship to other struggles. UCS stewards did not come out of nowhere.

“It is important to see the UCS as part of a movement, integrated into trade unions, shop stewards, across the whole of Britain, drawing its strength from it and giving it strength, and being there for a movement and not a monument.

“Changing the assumptions about what democracy is about. For working people, democracy is simply not just a matter of putting a cross on a piece of paper - it is a matter of economic democracy; of being able to control how investment is made and who it is made for; who produces, and for what.

“And that, I think, was the crucial lesson of the great work-in for the right to work - that there should be an economic democracy for working people.”