Trade unionist. Born in Carsluith (Dumfries and Galloway), one of six brothers, the family moved to Glasgow when Christie was twelve. He represented Glasgow in football and athletics while at school but went on to join the Civil Service, where he became active in trade unionism. Based in London, Christie was key to transforming the Society of Civil & Public Servants into a modern and effective organisation with greatly increased membership.
By 1976, he was Deputy General Secretary of this union and a leading figure in the Trades Union Congress (TUC). In 1986, he left London to become General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), the umbrella organisation representing the views of all unions in Scotland. An enthusiast for a devolved Scottish Parliament, Christie represented the STUC on the Scottish Constitutional Convention from its creation in 1989. He also served on the European Community's Economic & Social Committee (from 1986) and as a director of the Glasgow Development Agency (1992-98).
Retiring from the STUC in 1998, Christie was appointed to the Board of Scottish Enterprise and also to the Board of British Waterways, serving as Vice Chair of the latter (2004-). He is also Chairman of Falkirk Football Club and has held directorships in the health, brewing and transport sectors.
Awarded a CBE in 1997, he holds honorary doctorates from St Andrews, Stirling, Napier and Glasgow Caledonian Universities, together with Queen Margaret's University College.