I CRIED this week. Alone at home sitting in front of my computer screen on Wednesday afternoon, I found myself in tears while watching a film.

It’s a long time since I’ve cried, let alone over a film. When the tears do come, it’s usually at the end of the day in some lonely godforsaken spot overseas while covering a conflict or natural disaster.

READ MORE: Story of Scots' solidarity with Chile in Nae Pasaran ends Glasgow Film Festival in style

Witnessing the suffering of others, especially children, it’s often impossible not to cry. So many times over the years such emotions have just bubbled up and I’ve long since learned that it’s best to let them take their course.

The last time I cried before this week was a few months ago in Syria after days of watching emergency workers unearth the remains of bodies from beneath the rubble of the bomb-shattered city of Raqqa.

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As ever, it was not the grisliness or witnessing of death that so much troubled me, as the proximity to the raw anguish of those still living as they came to terms with their unfathomable loss.

My tears on Wednesday, though, were not those of sadness. Far from it. They came in that welling up provoked by a sense of great pride. They flowed in response to the sheer fortitude and humanity depicted in the inspirational story unfolding before me on the screen.

It’s a story that is the stuff of legend in the annals of Scottish labour movement history and international solidarity.

The film I was watching was Nae Pasaran, which tells the remarkable and moving account of those Scottish workers and trade unionists at the Rolls-Royce factory in East Kilbride who refused to carry out repairs on the engines of Hawker Hunter warplanes in an act of solidarity against the violent military coup d’etat in Chile in 1973.

It is 45 years this week since that coup with the backing of the CIA was staged against Salvador Allende, Chile’s first democratically elected president, bringing to power the brutal dictatorship and junta of General Augusto Pinochet.

I had sat down to watch the film that afternoon in preparation for a post-screening discussion I was chairing at the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) that same night.

Alongside me on the platform later would be the Chilean director of the documentary, Felipe Bustos Sierra, and two of the four Scottish trade unionists at the centre of the story, John Keenan and Stuart Barrie.

It was these two former Rolls-Royce workers, along with their comrades Robert Somerville and the instigator of the industrial action and boycott back in 1973, the indefatigable Bob Fulton, who feature at the heart of a story that resonates so much with the times in which we now live.

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The rise of dictatorship and the far right, the violent suppression of democracy and total disregard for human rights so prevalent in Chile in 1973 are all stark reminders of similar experiences today in so many parts of the world.

So, too, was the plight of those Chilean activists and refugees forced into exile to avoid torture, imprisonment and execution. Many of those Chileans, of course, found their way to Scotland and have been here as a welcome part of our nation’s rich tapestry ever since. Some were in the audience at the GFT on Wednesday night, voicing their thanks for the actions of those Scottish workers who did their part during Chile’s hour of need.

There were other echoes in the film, too, from a past that now reverberates in the present. We saw a world then that – just like now – is rife with the shadowy collusion and dirty deeds of government, so often in pursuit of naked profit and political gain.

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Watching those Scottish workers tell of the intimidation and blacklisting they faced for their courageous stance was also a poignant reminder of the vulnerability faced by so many in the workplace today. Those who no longer have the employment protection and sense of collective clout and solidarity that organised trade unionism once offered.

Archive images of those warplane parts sitting at the Rolls-Royce plant in East Kilbride also brought to mind the pernicious and cynical nature of the current arms trade.

Right now, here in Scotland, the world’s third-biggest arms company Raytheon at its Glenrothes plant in Fife continues to manufacture the weapons and systems parts sold as part of huge UK arms deals with Saudi Arabia.

As the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has consistently pointed out, such weapons are used by the Saudis in their prosecution of the war in Yemen. Just like in Chile in 1973, civilians in Yemen pay the ultimate price while others profit massively.

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Only last month in Yemen at least 29 children died, all of them less than 15 years old, after death rained down from an air strike that hit their school bus as it was returning from a picnic.

Still, though, the UK continues to sell arms to Riyadh, a staggering £4.7 billion worth since the US and UK-backed Saudi-led bombardment in Yemen began in 2015.

IF the parallels today with 1973 are strong, then there are big differences, too, of course. The diminished ranks of trade union membership means the wider movement’s capacity to influence or bring collective pressure to bear in acts of international solidarity as depicted in Nae Pasaran is largely a thing of the past.

But perhaps now more than at any time for years, such actions are crucial in defending the democratic values most people hold dear.

Sanctions, boycotts, disinvestment and just simply collectively speaking out are all still powerful political weapons.

As the Nae Pasaran story reminds us, Scotland has a proud history in stepping up to the plate to help others facing injustice, no matter where they are in the world.

As the credits rolled and the lights went up in the GFT the other night, the former Rolls-Royce workers took to the stage for the post-screening discussion. They did so to the first of two standing ovations.

I couldn’t help noticing, too, that many in the audience were shedding a tear. Evidently I was far from the only one moved by their story of a moment Scotland can be proud of and when it showed itself at its very best.