SCORES of trade unionists picketed the Glasgow base of the Scottish Office on December 17, 1977, intent on what the papers described as a face-to-face confrontation with the Scottish Secretary of State, Bruce Millan.

An official five-strong delegation, including John Walker, Scottish organiser of the rail union ASLEF, entered Alhambra House, in Waterloo Street, but they were to be disappointed; neither Mr Millan nor any of his deputies were there to meet them.

A Scottish Office spokesman said later that Mr Millan was, in fact, in London that day.

The delegation did, however, hand in petitions bearing the names of 8,000 workers and ‘people in the street’ backing their views.

The workers were taking part in a demonstration by the Clydeside Action co-ordinating committee against high unemployment, low levels of apprenticeships, low staffing in public services, and spending cuts that had affected health and education programmes.

The National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) and the Educational Institute of Scotland were some of the unions represented on the demonstration.

Britain’s firemen were at that time on strike in support of a pay claim. The strike, which was part of a wave of industrial unrest that greeted the Callaghan government, spanned some nine weeks and ended early in the New Year.