Former STUC chief Campbell Christie dies

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Media captionCampbell Christie, the former general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, dies at the age of 74

Campbell Christie, the former general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, has died at the age of 74.

First Minister Alex Salmond said Scotland had lost a "giant of the trade union movement and public life".

Mr Christie served as STUC general secretary from 1986 to 1998.

He also served as chairman of Falkirk Football Club, and most recently he chaired a commission on the future of public services in Scotland.

Mr Christie died at Strathcarron Hospice in Denny, after a short period of illness.

In a statement, the STUC described Mr Christie as one of Scotland's most outstanding trade union and civic leaders.

Devolution debate

He became STUC leader in 1986 at a time when Scottish industry was being radically changed.

The miners' strike had just ended, and he was involved in unsuccessful fights to protect Scotland's manufacturing industries, including the Ravenscraig steel works in Lanarkshire.

But he also took a prominent part in the campaign against the poll tax, and played a significant role in the devolution debate as a founder and key member of the Scottish Constitutional Convention.

Away from politics, he was chairman of Falkirk Football Club during the team's run in the Premier League.

He stepped down after the Bairns played in the 2009 Scottish Cup Final.

He returned to the political arena last year, chairing an independent commission to make recommendations for the delivery of public services.

The STUC's current general secretary, Grahame Smith, said Mr Christie was "a tremendous ambassador for the trade union movement and for Scotland."

He added: "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.

Image caption Mr Christie was prominent in the campaign against the poll tax

"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."

The first minister said Mr Christie was a key figure in the campaign for a Scottish parliament and a strong voice for democracy in the late 1980s and 1990s.

He said the former STUC general secretary had led the Christie Commission into public sector reform with "great wisdom and diligence".

He added: "Campbell was loved by many for his principles, his humour and his courage.

"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."

Greatly missed

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said Mr Christie "served with distinction" as general secretary of the STUC at "a particularly difficult time for working people and the country".

He added: "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."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie described Mr Christie as "a pillar of Scottish society".

He added: "Respected and trusted, he was a straight talker who was prepared to stand up for what he thought was right."

Business leaders also paid tribute to Mr Christie.

CBI Scotland director Iain McMillan said: "Campbell was general secretary of the STUC during my first four years as director of CBI Scotland and I had the utmost respect and admiration for him. I also liked him very much personally.

"Campbell gave much of his life to helping others and contributed greatly to public life in Scotland."

Mr Christie remained a director at Falkirk Football Club.

A statement on the club's wesbite said: "Campbell loved Falkirk Football Club and was a great servant to the club.

"He spent three spells as chairman and steered the club through some of its greatest turmoil and greatest successes.

"He will be greatly missed by everyone at the football club."

A minute's silence will be observed to Saturday's game against Raith Rovers.

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