Burma Road Riot

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Dannay Maycock
Coursework
Question 1(b)
In 1935 the Associated Bahamas Car Owners and Taxi Cab Drivers Union was formed to protest against competition from foreigners. Another union called the Labor Association was also formed during this time, to protest the labor conditions in the Bahamas especially with regards to minimum wage. However, very little was done at the time. It all started in 1958 when the Taxi Cab Union went on strike. This union went on strike because hotel operators had made an agreement with a limited group of tour companies (who operated limousines and tour buses). The agreement meant loss of jobs for the taxicab workers. As a result, on November 2nd, 1958, they blocked all routes in and out of the new Nassau International Airport for over twenty-four hours, thus causing air traffic to stop. The airport eventually closed when night fell. The next day it was decided that the union would settle the dispute through negotiation. The PLP often presented the view that the Development Board was little more than a slush fund set up for the personal advantage of those big businessmen who were its members - under the able leadership of a white lawyer/politico named Stafford Sands. And it was this view that colored the events which led to the general strike. Black Bahamians had been operating taxis since the 1930s, picking up cruise passengers from Prince George Wharf and air passengers from Oakes Field. As tourism began to grow in the 1950s and new hotels came on stream, a conflict developed over how this business would be shared between the white-owned tour companies and the independent taxi drivers who had their own union. The 200 taxi drivers were understandably outraged. The airport road was blocked for 24 hours and eventually closed down that night . The blockade was supported by airport workers who were part of the Bahamas Federation of Labour. But according to Sir Clifford, who directed the action as leader of the taxi union, "the blockade had...
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