Occupiers

Occupations have long been used by subjugated groups as means to raise the profile of their struggle, to take control of their lives, and to experiment with new forms of collective organising. The 2012 Occupy Movement, which in the main focused on occupations of public spaces (e.g. city halls, public squares and main streets), is the most recent high-profile example of collective re-appropriation as an expression of indignation and creative protest.

The tactic of occupation as part of political and labour struggles is certainly not new however. For example, in 1987 workers in the Caterpillar Plant in Uddingston occupied the factory for 103 days after the announcement of its proposed closure. This was not an isolated incident, but rather drew on an important tradition of occupation of factories and other workplaces in the West of Scotland and the Central Belt. Arguably the most iconic of these was the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders occupation of 1972 led by Jimmy Airlie and Jimmy Reid. There were a host of other factory occupations in the 1970s and 1980s in Scotland and beyond, including British Leyland and the Plessey Factory in Bathgate and Lee Jeans in Greenock. Activists from these disputes were among those who offered support and solidarity to the Caterpillar occupation.

From the shop floor to the university lecture theatre and from the local community centre to the city streets the posts below are about the Occupiers, past and present, who have constructed tent cities in public squares, maintained production on the factory lines, and argued incessantly about whose turn it is to wash the dishes and clean the toilets! As with all of our themes we would very much like to hear your thoughts on the posts and/or experiences, good or bad, of occupations.

Note: Unless stated otherwise the views expressed in the blog posts are those of individual bloggers and not the partner institutions.

Caterpillar workers Bob Burrows (standing), John Brannan (left) and John Gillan (right) at Banner Tales of Glasgow, Nitshill 15/03/2014

The Caterpillar Plant Occupation