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Council builds cairn to honour trade union stalwart, Willie Gallacher

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A two metre high cairn is being built at the junction of High Street and New Street, Paisley to commemorate the life and work of Willie Gallacher, the famous trade unionist and founder of the British Communist Party.

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Work on the cairn is expected to be finished by mid-August. The design matches the cairn erected in Kilbarchan in honour of Mary Barbour, the leader of the famous Glasgow Rent Strike in 1915.

Willie Gallacher was born in Paisley on 25 December 1881. He was a leading figure in the Shop Stewards’ Movement during the First World War.

Renfrewshire’s Provost, Anne Hall, said, “Willie Gallacher spent his life fighting to improve conditions for workers. He was imprisoned over his belief that the United Kingdom should not take part in the First World War. He also campaigned for a 40 hour week to help combat unemployment after the conflict.

“In this age of zero-hour contracts it is right that we remember the pioneering work of people like Willie Gallacher in fighting for a better deal for workers.”

In 1920, Gallacher became a leading figure of the Communist Labour Party. He stood as a candidate at elections in Dundee (1922 and 1923), West Fife (1929 and 1931) and Shipley (1930). He was eventually elected as MP for West Fife in 1935.

In 1936 Gallacher supported Labour Party calls for granting military aid to the Republican government fighting Franco’s Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War.

Gallacher lost his West Fife seat to Labour at the 1950 General Election coming third behind the National Liberal candidate, but remained in politics and served as President of the Communist Party of Great Britain from 1956 to 1963. Gallacher died in Paisley on 12 August 1965, aged 83.