NICOLA Sturgeon opened the STUC Margaret Irwin Centre in what she described as "a good day for trade unionism".

The First Minister unveiled the Scottish Trade Union Congress’ new home in the heart of Glasgow’s Bridgeton this afternoon.

It comes as she told the Glasgow Times she passionately believes ‘with every fibre of her being’ that a strong trade union movement is essential for a fair society.

Glasgow Times: Pictured: The STUC Margaret Irwin CentrePictured: The STUC Margaret Irwin Centre

The building has been named after its first secretary who was instrumental in setting up the organisation 125 years ago.

Sturgeon hailed it as a “fitting tribute” to the union pioneer who she takes "great inspiration" from.

Ms Irwin “championed the rights of women in Scotland” by speaking up for equal pay and for the right to vote.

Now she is being remembered by the centre, which sits on Landressy Street.

It was also opened alongside STUC general secretary Roz Foyer, STUC president Pauline O’Rourke and UCU young member Rosie Hampton.

Glasgow Times: Pictured: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this afternoonPictured: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this afternoon

The hub will be used for supporting the trade union movement during this “critical time” as Scots face the biggest fall in living standards since the 1950s.

The development comes as part of the wider regeneration programme in the Clyde Gateway area.

The FM said: “I think this new centre gives a very strong foundation for the future of the trade union movement in Scotland.

"I believe passionately with every fibre of my being that a strong trade union movement is essential to the fair treatment of society

"We are lucky in Scotland because we have a very strong vibrant trade union movement that has been instrumental in achieving all of the key moments of progress in Scotland’s history.

"In order for it to continue that in the future it must have the security of the base here, the modern fit-for-purpose centre.

"This is a good day for trade unionism in Scotland. I’m sure the STUC will continue to go from strength to strength."

Glasgow Times:  Pictured from left are- Roz Foyer (STUC general secretary), Pauline Rourke (STUC president) and Rosie Hampton (UCU young member) Pictured from left are- Roz Foyer (STUC general secretary), Pauline Rourke (STUC president) and Rosie Hampton (UCU young member)

Ms Irwin was crucial in setting up the STUC in 1897, and held the position of secretary to the general council until 1900.

Despite being offered the job on a permanent basis she refused, and said she feared prejudice against a woman in the position might harm the new union.

But, though never a trade union member, she remained influential in the movement especially in setting up structures for women members and for urging that Scotland needed its own unions, not just branches of national bodies.

Her work helped with the reform of housing conditions for women workers in potato lifting, fish curing and fruit picking.

Glasgow Times:

She was also active in the women’s suffrage movement, a member of the Glasgow and West Scotland Association for Women’s Suffrage until 1907, and after that a regular speaker at the Women’s Freedom League.

In 1927 she was made a CBE, and ran a model fruit farm in Blairgowrie until her death aged 83.

Sturgeon added: "Margaret Irwin is somebody I take great inspiration from.

"She had a really interesting life. She was born at sea, which is just one of the many interesting facts about her.

"At a time when it wasn't easy for anybody, and certainly not for a woman, to be that strong campaigning voice for progress, she did that absolutely fearlessly.

"[She did this] both in terms of trade unionism and pushing forward for fair work, fair pay, and votes for women.

"She was definitely a pioneer who women everywhere should take inspiration from.

"It is good to see her recognised in this way because like many women in history she has been under-recognised for too long."

She added: "Women still have a long way to go.

"In many ways we have made massive strides since Margaret Irwin was the first secretary of the STUC.

"We now see women in much more senior positions more routinely. I'm the first woman First Minister but in many ways there is still work to be done.

"The fight for equal pay still goes on as well as sexism and misogyny.

"In some ways social media has set progress back with that a little bit.

"There is work to be done but there is no doubt the inspiration from the women of our past, like Margaret Irwin, will help spur us forward."

Now unionists are continuing her work to “bring workers and communities together as we face the challenges ahead”.

Glasgow Times: Pictured: STUC general secretary Roz FoyerPictured: STUC general secretary Roz Foyer

Ms Foyer, STUC general secretary, stated: “This is a critical time for the trade union movement in Scotland. 

“As a society, we are facing the biggest fall in living standards since the 1950s, but unions are fighting back.

“We are seeing increased strike action across many different sectors, showing that the workers of Scotland will not accept rising living costs and stagnating wages.

“The way we work has fundamentally changed over the last 20 years, and the way we organise in our workplaces and in our communities is changing too.

“Our new building will create a trade union centre, in the heart of Bridgeton, and will bring workers and communities together as we face the challenges ahead. 

“With membership growing, this new building will herald in a new era for the future of trade unions.”

Ian Manson, chief executive of Clyde Gateway, added: “The arrival of the STUC to Bridgeton is another positive change for the Clyde Gateway area.

“Joining the renowned Women’s Library on Landressy Street, with the University of Glasgow’s office in The Olympia building, we are witnessing the formation of a significant ‘civic hub’ with many thousands of visitors to these organisations seeing the changes for themselves.

“As well as providing the best fit for their long-term property requirements, their move to the area highlights STUC’s contribution to Clyde Gateway’s world-class regeneration effort.”