We have been reminding you, for months now, that this year, 2016, is one of commemoration for Barbados which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary as a sovereign nation.
For us in the Barbados Workers’ Union this year is the more important because it marks the 75th anniversary of the registration of the Barbados Workers’ Union as the first legal trade union in Barbados. The Barbados Workers’ Union was registered on October 4, 1941 following the passage of the Trade Union Act in Parliament in 1939 and its coming into force in 1940. In addition, the Executive Council of the Barbados Workers’ Union will be celebrating the centenary of the birth of its former iconic general secretary and National Hero, Rt. Excellent Sir Frank Walcott, KA, OBE. It must be noted that the BWU played a key role in Barbados’ independence struggle under the leadership of Sir Frank Walcott whose robust lobby in Parliament, on the political platform, in the media, as well as his role on the independence negotiating team in London.
In that regard, the Executive Council will be organising a number of activities, including a lecture series, a symposium for senior students of secondary schools on Industrial relations, a health fair, and a thanksgiving service, among others.
The lecture series will start at “Solidarity House” on Thursday, July 21st with a lecture by Dr. David Browne on the subject, “The 1937 Disturbances and the Evolution of the Barbados Workers’ Union”. This will be followed by a lecture at “Solidarity House on Thursday, August 11, starting at 7:00 p.m. by retired High Court Judge, Justice Sherman Moore. He will be assessing the work of the Barbados Workers’ Union in lobbying for, and in the piloting of social and labour legislation in Parliament over the past 75 years – key pieces of legislation which included Holidays with Pay, Maternity Leave, Severance Payment and National Insurance.
The lecture series will be continued in the month of September, the birth month of Sir Frank Walcott, with a lecture by His Excellency Ambassador Robert Morris which assesses his life and times in the Labour Movement and in Parliament. Sir Frank, apart from being the general secretary of the BWU, was president of the Caribbean Congress of Labour, Executive Board Member of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, based in Brussels and a Governor of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), whose headquarters was in Geneva, Switzerland. He served in the Parliament of Barbados as parliamentary representative for St. Peter and St. Michael West and also served as President of the Senate. His life’s work in Barbados, the Caribbean and internationally, was immense.
Sir Roy Trotman will present in the month of October on the Union’s work in the development of Labour Management Relations, with emphasis on the challenges faced particularly by the BWU.
The lecture series will culminate in November with a presentation by historian Trevor Marshall who will assay the role of Women in the Labour Movement.
The school’s programme will be held in mid-September.
In the month of September there will be a march and rally to commemorate the Labour heroes with special focus on Sir Frank Walcott as the year is marking the centennial of his birth. The Rt. Excellent Sir Grantley Adams, the first president general of the BWU and Rt. Excellent Sir Hugh Springer, first general secretary of the BWU will also be highlighted as the main contributors to the labour movement in Barbados. That event is being coordinated by the Government of Barbados in association with the Barbados Workers’ Union.