In Focus ...
- National Workplace Wellness Policy
- Retirees' Health Project
- The BWU Anniversary Lecture Series Continues
- The Role and Function of The Barbados Workers’ Union
- The BWU Has Been Asked to Consider What Underlying Ethic Will Inspire Its Engagement in the Next Twenty-Five Years
- Moore Calls for the Support of the Church
- Symposium on Preparing For the World of Work
- The BWU 75th Anniversary
|The BWU 75th Anniversary|
The Barbados Workers’ Union (B.W.U.) has celebrated a number of milestones during its 75-year history, among which have been its fifth birthday in 1946, its 25th anniversary in 1966, its fiftieth anniversary in 1991 and currently its Platinum year.
Even though all landmarks are considered as being important to individuals and institutions, the BWU’s fifth anniversary was a defining moment for its leadership and membership, given the remarkable strides it had made in such a short period against the backdrop of the stifling social, political and economic environment in
The B.W.U. was registered on October 4th, 1941, following the passage of the Trade Union Act in 1939 and its
The leaders of the then fledgling Barbados Workers’ Union, clearly pleased with the advancements it had made at the stage of its fifth year, in 1945, published a 35-page booklet in which it gave account of its stewardship and in which it invited the Governor, Sir Henry Grattan Bushe, the Bishop, the Right Reverend William Hughes and the country’s first Labour Commissioner, Guy Perrin to pen their messages.
The three leaders congratulated the Barbados Workers’
Writing in context of the anxious days of World War 11 and the changing political times, Bishop Hughes stated that questions of government, economic and social welfare were now concerns of all and that pre-war methods of thinking were no longer tenable “as we had passed into a new age”. His view was that this fact imposed a heavy responsibility on all men. He advised that “thought must precede action, not only for the solution of immediate and local problems, but for the well-being of mankind as a whole”. His advice to the leadership of the B.W.U. was this: “Your
Sir Henry Grattan Bushe, best known in Barbados for his constitutional move, in 1946, known as “The Bushe Experiment”, wel
Governor Bushe added:”… although it would be premature to say that our house is in order, we can, at least, look back with satisfaction to the gradual emergence of some method in the discussion and settlement of industrial relations. That the Barbados Workers’
Writing against the backdrop of the challenging terrain in which the masses had trekked over the preceding 300 years of colonial rule, and the ac
Adams wrote “…while we in the Barbados Workers’ Union are aware of the added impetus given by the War to the whole Labour and Trade Union Movement throughout the world, we can, I think, look with justifiable pride on our achievements in the five years of our existence, which, if not phenomenal, have certainly been outstanding in an island like our own”.
In assessing the character of the Barbadian,
“I feel sure that our branch of the great World Trade Union Movement will shine out as a guide and a beacon to those workers throughout the
Messages From Fraternal Organisations
On the occasion of the celebration of its landmark fifth anniversary in October, 1946, the fledgling Barbados Workers’ Union was the joyous recipient of messages of congratulations and goodwill from the leaders of the Labour and Trade Union organisations from across the then British West Indies, among whom were men who were later to lead their respective countries into nationhood.
All of the well-wishers, having made their contribution to national development in their respective countries in their fields, as trade union leaders, chief ministers and or prime ministers, have all gone to be with their fathers and it would be interesting if it were possible, today, for them to sit where they are and be able reflect on their sentiments and Labour’s achievements over the passage of time.
We think it salutary to record some of these names of these noble men who set the stage for the decolonisation process, since at the regional level, and even in their own countries, their names and their deeds may have been forgotten.
These leaders included Vere Cornwall Bird, President of the Antigua Trades and Labour Union, later to be
Vere Bird wrote that The Antigua Trades and Labour Union had only recently passed its seventh birthday and that “we take pride in being a
While echoing a call for unity, determination and undeviating perseverance in the West Indies, Bird emphasised that changes of a magnitude, as had been experienced by all peoples in the formative period of nationhood, were taking place in our midst, and it was of the utmost importance that the Labour movements in the various
Robert Bradshaw, while noting that five years of labour for the development of working class unity was an experience which had brought unbounded pleasure to the Barbados Workers’
“To-day the course is still strewn with diverse obstacles which, by their nature, tend to detract the movement from its upward climb”. He added:” It can well be said that at this significant period of national development and reconstruction, it is imperative that the fullest support from every source of progressive thought in the British West Indies be lent to the Barbados Workers’ Union to stand as a beacon in the Eastern Caribbean for illuminating the way to a higher life for the masses”. He pledged the support of the St. Kitts-
Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, who may described as the ‘The Father of Trade Unionism’ in the British West Indies informed the Barbados Workers’
“We desire a Congress, such as have recently established, where industrial and other problems can be threshed out and a programme worked out for the realisation of economic democracy and political emancipation. Workers must no longer be willing to acquiesce in a system under which industry is run for the benefit of a few. The need is ever increasing for the control of the workers over the industry in which they are engaged; and further, for a demand for public ownership of essential industries.
“These things demand sound and intelligent leadership and guidance. They need, too, to have the full understanding of the rank and file as to what they involve; and the loyalty and support of the working people everywhere to the trade union movement. With unity much can be ac
“I wish you long life and may your union grow stronger numerically as well as financially”
Ralph Mentor, Secretary of the
George A. McIntosh, President of the St. Vincent Workingmen’s Co-operative Association Limited, extended best wishes to the B.W.U. on the behalf of the St. Vincent Workingmen’s Association. He hoped that the Union would continue to grow and flourish as a medium through which the condition of the working people of
His view was that all labour organisations operating under a capitalist set-up must encounter not only the external barriers, but also the internal obstacles that periodically appear among the very workers in whose interest the organisations are operating. He considered that it was therefore essential that our object should be to create a social order by which means only we can hope to get greater security and freedom for all workers.
McIntosh suggested that In order to have such an aim, efforts had to be directed towards a West Indian Federation whereby the region could emerge as a West Indian Nation within the
Dr. E.F. Gordon’s letter was of particular interest. He wrote that his union had successfully agitated for Trade Union Laws and the Trade Union and Trade Disputes Act, 1946, had just been passed in the Assembly and was before the Legislative Council. He recalled that The Trade Union Act, 1939, of Barbados, was the inspiration that caused his Union’s President to fight valiantly but unsuccessfully for the right to use their funds for purposes other than statutory purposes in addition to which “because you preceded us by three years we have decided to name our Union, “The Bermuda Industrial Union” to avoid the confusion of two B.W.U.s. We shall always follow your progress with the greatest interest and we feel our fate is indissolubly tied with yours, as you are the most progressive of the three Bs –
Recounting his attendance at the Caribbean Labour Congress meeting in Barbados in September of 1945, Dr. Gordon wrote: “I have fond and vivid memories of the very pleasant and inspiring association that I had the honour to make as guest of the BWU and the Progressive league….I brought back with me the “Red Flag” which was sung for the first time in Bermuda on the 8th November 1945 and has since been the parting hymn at all our gatherings.