Memorial Service for Lawrence Daly

20 August 2009

MORE THAN 500 trade unionists, including a sizeable delegation from ASLEF, are expected to gather in Dunfermline Abbey today, (August 20) to commemorate the life of Lawrence Daly. Lawrence, who died in May aged 84, worked his way from the coalfields of Fife to become general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers.

 

Lawrence became active in the labour movement after he began work as a miner in the Glencraig Colliery at the age of 15. He went on to become chair of the Scottish TUC’s youth movement.

 

Lawrence’s political career, which began as a Fife councillor was in the ascendant and his rise through the ranks of the NUM was rapid. He was instrumental in replacing ‘piece work’ with a national day wage structure. He was elected general secretary of the NUM in 1968 and led the NUM through the strikes of ’72 and ’74.

 

It was during these and subsequent disputes that the bond between the NUM and ASLEF was cemented as ASLEF drivers refused to operate coal trains, in support of their brothers in the NUM. During the strikes Lawrence won major gains in wages and conditions for NUM members.

 

During subsequent miner’s strikes ASLEF spent a large portion of its annual income making up the wages of drivers who had lost income by refusing to shift coal, a decision that Lawrence and his successors never forgot.

 

ASLEF General Secretary Keith Norman said ‘Lawrence was a peerless advocate for his members who never forgot his principles.’

 

Gordon Brown is interrupting his summer holiday to deliver the Eulogy at today’s memorial service.

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