Factory protesters ‘an inspiration’: Remembering the Lee Jeans sit-down strike

Women who led a seven-month sit-in at a former jeans factory 30 years ago have been reunited at Holyrood.

The Scottish Parliament remembered the 240 women who staged the protest at the Lee Jeans factory in Greenock, which began on February 5, 1981.

The workers barricaded themselves into the canteen to demonstrate against a decision by it owners, the VF Corporation, to close the factory. It was eventually saved following a management buyout.

Former convener Helen Monaghan and ex-workers Catherine Robertson and Margaret Wallace visited the Scottish Parliament on Thursday to mark the anniversary and meet MSPs.

The women met with Labour leader Iain Gray, deputy leader Johann Lamont and Inverclyde MSPs Duncan McNeil and Trish Godman.

Mr McNeil, MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, said: “Although they didn’t realise it at the time, these women captured the imagination of a country that was being crushed by unemployment at the time. They became an inspiration to workers all over the world.”

The meeting followed a debate in Parliament on Mr McNeil’s motion calling on Parliament to “salute the workers for capturing the imagination of the whole country and achieving a landmark victory against a US multinational”.

During his speech to Parliament, Mr McNeil told how a protest which was not expected to last seven nights ended up lasting for seven months, and he recalled visiting Ms Monaghan amid the sit-in and speaking to her “through the meshed windows”.

He added: “This straight-forward, honest and committed approach to saving their jobs confounded and surprised themselves and certainly shocked the VF Corporation and local management

” In many ways, the Lee Jeans women gave their movement comfort and spark of light to in very dark times.”

http://www.buryfreepress.co.uk/news/factory_protesters_an_inspiration_1_2489338

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