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Memorial tribute to Caterpillar sit-in workers

WORKERS who staged a marathon occupation in an attempt to save their jobs at a closure-threatened plant will be honoured with a new memorial.

Employees at the Caterpillar plant at Tannochside, near Udding­ston, North Lanarkshire, held a sit-in for 103 days in 1987 as they tried to persuade the manufacturing giant to keep the premises open.

The company had originally announced a multi-million investment in new production equipment but executives later announced a sudden change of plan and the plant was to shut down.

Every manager was locked out by angry workers who felt betrayed. The sit-in delayed the closure but the plant, which had a workforce of 2700 in the late 1960s, fell silent on October 28, 1987.

Rows of houses now sit on the site while some of the derelict land was transformed into the Tannochside Business Park.

Former Caterpillar shop steward Bob Burrows, now a local councillor, has unveiled plans for a commemorative structure to the men and women who fought to save their jobs. He said: "We had a 25th anniversary reunion a couple of years ago and the former workers who turned out felt there should be some kind of a memorial to the factory and the occupation.

"A local artist has come up with a design, crafted in Corian - a synthetic material - and lit with LEDs, which we feel symbolises the struggle. It has three columns representing each month of the struggle and 103 coloured inserts each representing a day of the occupation."

Caterpillar shop stewards convener John Brannan and his deputy John Gillen have already agreed to attend the unveiling along with a ­number of other guests.

Mr Burrows said: "The Caterpillar occupation changed everyone's life. I had to be retrained and spent many years as a front line debt counsellor before being elected as a councillor and now convener of finance of North Lanarkshire Council.

"We are extending an open invitation to all former workers to attend the ceremony. It is an opportunity to mark the passing of an industrial era."

The event is being held on March 7 at 2pm. The memorial, funded by sponsorship, the trade union movement and North ­Lanarkshire Council. is being unveiled on open land 100 yards from where the factory stood.

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