Campbell Christie, the former General Secretary of the Scottish Trade Union Congress, has died aged 74.
Christie served as General Secretary of the STUC from 1986 to 1998, during the height of Thatcherism, and was one of the key players in the campaign that led to the Scottish parliament.
He also served as chairman of Falkirk Football Club, and most recently he chaired a commission on the future of public services in Scotland.
First Minister Alex Salmond described him as a giant of the trade union movement who “served Scotland to the end”.
The tributes to Christie, who is survived by his wife Betty and his family, were led by Graeme Smith, the current STUC General Secretary.
He said Christie had been one of Scotland’s most outstanding trade union and civic figures whose leadership of the trade union movement in the 80s and 90s gained respect for himself and the union movement across the industrial and political spectrum.
Smith said: “Campbell was comfortable on the shop floor and in the boardroom. He was never afraid of taking the difficult decision, even if he knew it might upset others in the Labour movement. He always saw the bigger picture. Whether it was the myriad of campaigns for jobs, in support of manufacturing or public services or in opposition to the imposition of the poll tax, Campbell’s overwhelming objective was always to place the STUC and the unions at the heart of Scottish industrial and political life.”
“Under Campbell’s stewardship the STUC rose above the exclusion of unions from the ‘corridors of power’ and forged relationships across Scottish society which galvanised opposition to the brutal policies of Thatcher and Major Governments’. Those relationships remain in place today.”
Smith added: “He was a passionate advocate of Scottish Home Rule committed, not only to seeing the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament, but to it being Parliament with a progressive purpose, accessible to, and working for the people. While politicians take credit for Devolution, the role played by Campbell Christie and others in civil Scotland was equally important.
“His influence reached way beyond the STUC. He was a prominent figure in the social partnership structures of the EU, in the international peace movement, he was active in voluntary and community organisations and of course”
While Chair of the Board of Falkirk Football Club, the team enjoyed a run in the Premier League and reached the Scottish Cup Final, something in which he took great delight.
Christie remained involved in public life until recently, leading the Scottish government’s Commission on the Future of Public Service.
First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Campbell was loved by many for his principles, his humour and his courage. He was a key figure in the campaign for a Scottish Parliament, a strong voice for democracy in the late 1980s and 1990s when civic Scotland led the movement for change. Salmond added: “He served Scotland to the end, his last public duty to lead the Christie Commission into Public Sector Reform, which he did with great wisdom and diligence. His advice in that report will live on to guide us in these new difficult times.”
Falkirk FC also released a statement paying tribute to their club director and said a minute’s silence will be observed prior to the team’s game against Raith Rovers on Saturday.
The club said: “After a period of illness, Campbell died peacefully at Strathcarron Hospice in the early hours of this morning. Our thoughts are with his wife, Betty, and his family at this time.
“Campbell loved Falkirk Football Club and was a great servant to the club. He spent three spells as Chairman and steered the club through periods of its greatest turmoil and greatest successes. He will be greatly missed by everyone at the football club.”
Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said Christie will be great loss to the Labour movement and Scotland.
"He was one of our foremost trade union leaders and served with distinction as General Secretary of the STUC at a particularly difficult time for working people and the country. He led from the front in the struggle to defend working people against the ravages of the Thatcherite government as manufacturing industry in Scotland was hammered by the Tories.
“But Campbell was above all a true public servant in every sense and was very active in the civic life of Scotland, serving on many other bodies and organisations, not least his beloved Falkirk FC.”
Born in 1937 in Carsluith, Dumfries and Galloway, as one of six brothers, Christie moved to Glasgow with his family at 12 years of age.
As a youngster he represented Glasgow in football and athletics but went on to join the Civil Service, where he became active in trade unionism.
Based in London,Christie was key to transforming the Society of Civil & Public Servants into a modern and effective organisation with greatly increased membership.
By 1976, he became Deputy General Secretary of the union and a leading figure in the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
In 1986, he left London to become General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), the umbrella organisation representing the views of all unions in Scotland.
Christie represented the STUC on the Scottish Constitutional Convention from its creation in 1989. He also served on the European Community’s Economic & Social Committee and as a director of the Glasgow Development Agency for six years in the 1990s.
After retiring from the STUC in 1998, Christie was appointed to the Board of Scottish Enterprise and also to the Board of British Waterways
He was also Chairman of Falkirk Football Club and has held directorships in the health, brewing and transport sectors.
Awarded a CBE in 1997, he was granted honorary doctorates from St Andrews, Stirling, Napier and Glasgow Caledonian Universities, together with Queen Margaret’s University College.
In his tribute Alex Salmond captured the warmth of Christie’s personality.
He said: “Campbell’s life will not just be measured in the offices he held or the achievements he won, many as they were, but also in the generosity of spirit and dignified manner which distinguished all his actions.
I speak for the nation in sending condolences and sympathy to his beloved wife Betty and family.
“For many, Campbell’s warmth as a man and a fighter were evident in his love for Falkirk football club, and I know that all Falkirk Bairns will be mourning today.”