Trade Union Development

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Trade Union Development in Jamaica & Trinidad & Tobago

Trade Unionism: Hugh W. Springer


Trade Unionism is an instrument of social change and
progress. It had to be invented because it is a necessary part of the apparatus of democratic government in modern industrial society. In the West Indies the Trade Union Movement came into existence as part of the larger movement for the freedom and independent nationhood.



Economic Conditions that contributed to Discontentment in the Region      



1st Great Depression late 19th Century Low Wages / Increased mechanisation of processes (affected mostly women) Rising Prices / Rising Cost of Living Increasing Unemployment & Underemployment Reduction in Working Hours 1929 Financial Crisis in the USA Other: – – –

No Machinery to air grievances Lack of political and legal rights Unsanitary working conditions

Role of the Media


 

Dissemination of information that reached the masses (Newspapers) but National Newspaper promoted capitalist interests Audio and Visual information through Radio broadcast and news reels at cinemas Case: A group of intellectuals developed a radical critique that help to shape a new political culture in Trinidad, they did so through – – – –

A literary journal called Trinidad The beacon magazine There was also a similar type of vehicle used in Jamaica called the Plain Talk, a Garveyite weekly newspaper edited by Alfred Mendez & Public Opinion used by local intellectuals to write letters and articles

World Events as well as Social Factors that Contributed to Greater Levels of Consciousness at a Regional Level attacks on the Abyssinians – aroused anti-white feelings among the blacks Italian The

repatriation of Labourers who had gone to Latin America

Marcus

Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association - which increased class solidarity and the advocacy of Trade Unionism as well as it contributed to the spread of Marxist ideas – workers had taken power and property from the Capitalist Russia Ex-servicemen

returning home after World War 1

Welcome to Jamaica “Gud feh si yuh”

Conditions Unique to Jamaica
 






Crisis in Banana Production Mass migration in Kingston and St. Andrew Areas (urban) The Radicalisation of Waterfront Workers The influence of Marcus Garvey (who was deported back to JA from the US in1927) The Emergence of Rastafarianism – Leonard Howell

Late 19th Century
 



Angry protest broke out in many of the colonies Trade Unions were still illegal At least 16 serious disturbances occurred between 1884-1905 according to Bolland – –

Most in Jamaica (1884,1894,1895,1901,1902 & 1912) Trinidad 1903

Jamaica
 



The largest economy of the region They took the lead in confronting the Colonial Power-Structure Their history of rebellion – –

Maroons victory in 1738 Morant Bay Rebellion in 1865 – in which Governor Eyre had to expeditiously abolish the Representative type Government and it found approval with the colonial office – New Constitution introduced – Crown Colony

The Representative Type of Government
Governors (representing the Imperial Powers)

Conflict over power in the system particularly concerning finance Legislators (local vested Interest)

Local Crown Colony Structure

Resident Governor (Autocratic Power)

Executive Council (Policy – making)

Legislative Assembly Nominated (majority) / Elected (minority)

Jamaica


Brief Overview
– – –

Prior to emancipation (during apprenticeship) there was a noticeable trek of wage labour Land acquisition had become popular among former slaves By the 1860s the majority of the labour force comprised of small farmers, peasants, rural (nonstate) labourers and independent semi-skilled tradesman – growing Black Middle Class

Jamaica Pre 1930






Between World War I & II, there were more vocalising of colonial exploitation and oppression The Mass...
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