ON those mornings that I go for a run along Glasgow’s Clyde walkway, I almost always pass La Pasionaria. For a long time now she and I have had our own passionate love affair of sorts. For those unfamiliar with the great lady, La Pasionaria – or “passionflower” – was the name given to Dolores Ibárruri, a communist politician of Basque origin and Spanish Republican heroine of the fight against fascism during the civil war in the country in the 1930s.

“No Pasaran!” – they shall not pass! – was Ibárruri’s famous rallying cry during the battle for Madrid.

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Today a stylised figure of her sits atop the Clyde walkway monument, erected in memory of those Glaswegians who volunteered for the International Brigade that fought against General Franco’s fascist forces in Spain.

Since boyhood I’ve been in love with the story of the Spanish Civil War. More than anything it’s the account of those ordinary people who upped and left behind their safe lives at home to journey and fight on the frontline that has seduced and intrigued me most. That the International Brigades were made up from volunteers from across the world only adds to the fascination.

Scotland, with its strong socialist credentials of the time, provided its own share, as the dozen or so memorials across our nation attest to.

In Glasgow I’m always saddened by how few people even know of the existence of the La Pasionaria monument let alone the incredible history and sacrifice of the Scots it represents.

The romance and idealism of individuals putting themselves on the line for a cause they passionately believe to be just and right while combating the forces of evil has an allure as old as history itself.

Last month I was reminded of that again when I sat down to watch a documentary film recounting a story that is the stuff of legend in the annals of Scottish Labour movement history and international solidarity.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I wept when I watched the film Nae Pasaran.

My tears 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.

That story 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.

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Scotland received a message of support from Chile after taking a stand against the brutal dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet

It is 45 years 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 the horrors inflicted by the junta of General Augusto Pinochet.

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

Alongside me on the platform that evening 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.

Watching Nae Pasaran is to be reminded of a world then – just like now – rife with the shadowy collusion and dirty deeds of government, a world plagued by the pursuit of naked profit and political gain.

The rise of dictatorship and the far-right, the violent suppression of democracy and total disregard for human rights in Chile in 1973 mirrors so much of the “Trumpian” world in which we now find ourselves.

Archive images in the film of those Hawker Hunter 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, some of them used in the killing of civilians in the war in Yemen.

So has anything really changed, I asked the former Rolls Royce trade union men at the heart of the Nae Pasaran story?

“Maybe not. Sometimes the simplest method is the way to stop things. The simplest method now would be to stop the supplying of arms but you’ll be straight away against some powerful people,” says Bob Fulton, now 92.

Compassionate, open-minded, determined and possessing the kind of political integrity so rare these days, one can’t help feeling that they broke the mould when they made the likes of Bob Fulton.

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The group with director Felipe Bustos Sierra

“It’s ridiculous to keep making these arms. I don’t know if there’s any answer to a thing like that. If the workers have the opportunity to do what we did, I’d support them,” Bob insists.

“We were unique in the sense that we were the last factory in the world to fix those engines, that was our power. We had that opportunity. “In so much as you do unto one of my brothers, you do into me.” Did Robert Burns say that? Or Jesus? Either or,” Bob tells me, paraphrasing a quote from the Bible.

His comrades sitting around him at the Legion Bar in East Kilbride, a frequent meeting place during the making of Nae Pasaran, agree.

“The trade unions are not as strong as they were in the days of Chile. I remember when that bit of shell was found in Yemen produced by a factory in Scotland. People used to refer to it as ‘work’, that’s how they justified it: ‘it’s work, everybody needs to work’, but seeing the consequences of your ‘work’ like that, it changes you,” says Robert.

Listening to these men speak, I couldn’t help thinking of their politically motivated Scottish predecessors who decided to take a stand against Franco’s fascist junta in Spain in the 1930s.

Bob Fulton himself saw active service in the Second World War working as an engine mechanic on tanks and surviving one of the worst battles in Italy. Ever since then Bob insists, “dictatorship became a nasty word to me”.

Given Scotland’s proud history of stepping up to the plate to help others facing injustice elsewhere in the world, I’ve often found myself wondering just what those qualities are in our national temperament and character that makes us predisposed to acting this way.

“In the Central Belt of Scotland in particular, we have a history of political action, going back to at least the beginning of the 20th century. Certainly in Glasgow, there’s a long history of socialism.

“There’s a historical conditioning for people here to challenge authority,” says Stuart.

“I don’t know if that can be extended to the whole of Scotland, but here we have this history of standing for the oppressed and getting organised. As a young man, I was aware of this tradition, told to me by older people and that stuck with me.”

Stuart insists that the film reveals the “true compass” of each of the men at the heart of the Nae Pasaran story.

He says he remembers Robert back then as a “f******” firebrand,” but that there has always been a side to him, still present today, of looking out for his fellow man.

“There’s a purity to it, it’s not just a political agenda with you,” he says, turning to Robert at the table next to him in the Legion Bar.

“Yes, that was the miner’s son coming out of me,” Robert replies with a grin.

“You see your dad coming in from the pit with moleskins needing to be dried everyday. We took care of that. You support each other every day,” he answers by way of explanation THE film says Robert still makes him proud over what he and his comrades did all those decades ago. It made them all realise he says “how positive their actions were and how their solidarity was able to affect a major incident in the world”.

Casting back to that moment in time the men agree it was all pretty much down to Bob saying: “There’s a Chilean engine on my desk. I’m not going to work on it. You can fire me, but I’m not going to touch this.”

The Rolls-Royce workers knew all about the coup in Chile and as trade unionists they had condemned it on the day it happened. By the end of that day after Bob’s declaration that he was “blacking” the engines, they’d inventoried all the equipment from Chile, passing it on to other sections in the East Kilbride plant before they all voted to say nobody would work on it.

In Chile itself it would be some time before news of their action and solidarity percolated down to those bearing the brunt of the junta’s brutality.

In the dark recesses of Pinochet’s prisons where many were being tortured, those detained would often hear of the Scots workers action on guard’s radios or from newly arrived prisoners, giving them hope that the world outside had not forgotten about them.

What the Rolls Royce workers did not know then was that their refusal to handle the engines incapacitated some of the Chilean airforce that helped enforce the coup and bomb the presidential palace.

Their stand too ensured that some political prisoners in Chile managed to survive because by holding up the engines they became part of a shadowy trade involving the release of detainees.

For so long an obscure story confined to the annals of trade union and labour movement lore, Nae Pasaran has now exposed many Scots to a chapter in their history few knew much about.

What then, I asked the men, did their families and friends make of the film and their role in the story?

While Bob’s family thought it “fabulous” Stuart’s constantly jibe him with being a “film star”.

“There’s a wee quiet pride because they didn’t realise then what we were involved in. They’re more proud of it than I am, I think,” says Stuart.

With the film now nominated in the Best Film and Best Director categories at next month’s Scottish Bafta Awards, there is an understandable sense of pride in what has been achieved.

“We’ve carried this story for so long independently, the film feels like passing the baton.

“My granddaughter’s friend asked me for my autograph the other day. My 11-year-old granddaughter has the film poster in her room and she keeps pointing at it going: “That’s my papa,” says Robert, now 80.

The film’s director Felipe Bustos Sierra puts much of its success and the positive reactions to it down to how much people connect with Bob, Robert, John and Stuart.

“I’m proud to know them personally. I also know their drinks order by heart now,” Felipe jokes before making a more serious point.

“Maybe it’s that we’re starved for good news at the moment, or maybe it reflects a kinder type of politics that people would like to see implemented,” he says.

“To see people clapping not at the end but during the film, all those emotionally visceral reactions during the last half hour of the film, I wasn’t expecting that. It’s only clicked recently that the film resonated beyond our circles.”

So will they all be going to the Bafta awards ceremony I ask?

“Yes, we’re all attending together,” Bob says, despite Stuart’s reservation that they “don’t have tuxedos”.

Watching Nae Pasaran and talking with those men at the heart of the story it unfolds, it’s impossible for me not to think of their Scottish predecessors of the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.

While the Rolls-Royce men might not have taken up arms, they helped silence some of those used to crush a people’s hopes of democracy. Their act of International solidarity is something Scotland can be proud of and as individuals brings to mind those lines from George Orwell’s book on the Spanish Civil War: Homage to Catalonia.

But the thing that I saw in your face No power can disinherit: No bomb that ever burst Shatters the crystal spirit.

Or, as Bob Fulton summed it up in his own inimitable way: “I’m a human being who recognised right from wrong, that’s that.”