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November 2004 No.51
Ina Love - stalwart NUPE and UNISON activist

Stalwart NUPE and UNISON activist Ina Love died on 5 October. She was 76 and had been ill for some time. Here we print part of a tribute by BOB THOMSON.

Wilhelmina McKechnie was born in Blackhill. Her first main job was as a telephonist at Springburn Police Station. Unsurprisingly, she met policeman Jimmy Love; they were married in 1954.

Jim, Christine and Susan were born before the young family emigrated to Canada in 1960. Unfortunately Ina and the children returned to Scotland in 1963 without Jimmy.

Ina had to bring up the family on her own. It was even tougher times for single mothers in those days. She obtained a job as a telephonist at Stobhill Hospital, gained rapid promotion and was head telephonist for over twenty-five years.

Ina had an anger about the inequalities and injustices she saw first hand in the Health Service. She joined NUPE, and became a steward in 1968. In 1976 Ina became the first chairperson of NUPE's Scottish Divisional Council.

In 1979 she became the Scotland & Northern Ireland Women's Representative on the National Executive Council. In 1988/89 Ina was President of NUPE, which she served with distinction. Ina was for many years the chairwoman of NUPE's Standing Orders Committee, a job that required more than its fair share of tact and patience.

However, Ina was not always straight-laced at meetings. There was a member of the Executive who was always disrupting and prolonging meetings.

At one meeting Rodney Bickerstaffe read out a letter of apology from this member stating a virus had attacked him. Rodney asked if they should send best wishes. Ina exclaimed - sotto voce - "Aye - tae the virus!"

Ina was an early and consistent campaigner for equal rights and equal pay for women. This was displayed in her work in the STUC Women's Committee, of which she was a past-Chairwoman and a much-loved mentor to many leading women trade unionists in Scotland today.

As a trade unionist, Ina understood that major advances could not be made just at the workplace, but required political action. She joined the Labour Party in the early '70s and remained a member until she died.

She served on the Executive of the Scottish Labour Party for over ten years, where she fearlessly argued for NUPE/UNISON policy, especially the National Minimum Wage. Ina was not a narrow-minded nationalist.

She understood the need for international solidarity. In particular, she was an early advocate of the Palestinian cause. She visited refugee camps and was a long-time member of the Labour Middle East Council. As Susan and Christine know, their mother gave regularly and generously to many charities and campaigning organisations.

However, the Labour movement is not all work and no play. Ina could be the life & soul of the party. She was no mean singer, with her favourites San Francisco and I Did It My Way.

Executive Councils, TUC General Council, British Delegate, etc - all important and prestigious positions in which Ina served well. However, I can tell you from my own experience that Ina was never pretentious and never forgot her causes and her roots.

Up till she retired she was still dealing with the day-to-day queries and complaints of members. Ordinary but important to them, one of the reasons why they were in a trade union.

Within NUPE/UNISON, the TUC and the Labour Party Ina argued long and hard for a National Minimum Wage. Of course, it should be higher, but the principle has been established.

That we have achieved this is a testimony to her and the many other trade unionists that campaigned for it.

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