Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 12:42 UK

Union champion Speirs dies at 57

Bill Speirs
Bill Speirs began his tenure at the STUC in 1979

Bill Speirs, one of the giants of Scotland's trade union movement, has died peacefully at the age of 57, following a long illness.

Mr Speirs served with the STUC from 1979 to 2006, rising to general secretary in 1998.

His successor, Grahame Smith, described him as a champion of working people across the world.

Mr Speirs, who lived in Glasgow, leaves a wife, Pat Stewart, as well as a son and daughter.

Mr Smith said Mr Speirs' time at the STUC was marked by "momentous" events like the miners' strike, the poll tax campaign and the campaign for the Scottish Parliament.

'Tireless work'

He went on: "The causes and campaigns for justice which he championed are too many to name.

"Bill's was a life committed to the cause of working people and to the creation of a better society in Scotland, Britain and across the world. His loss will be felt throughout Scotland and beyond."

Mr Speirs joined the STUC as an assistant secretary, before becoming deputy general secretary in 1988.

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said: "Bill Speirs was one of the finest servants and leaders the Scottish labour and trade union movement has ever had.

"Every one of us in the Scottish Parliament owes him a debt of gratitude for his tireless work in the campaign for home rule."

Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister, said: "Bill Speirs devoted his life to the service of others, and brought integrity and passion to the causes he believed in.

"Bill sought a better life, fairness and justice for people at home and abroad, and while his life was cut tragically short, his contribution was great and his achievements real and lasting."

Annabel Goldie, the Scottish Conservative leader, added: "Bill was a capable and doughty advocate for the trade union movement and his political principles. He will be much missed."

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