The enactment of the Industrial Stabilisation Act (ISA) in 1965 was a powerful intervention against workers interests by the  newly-installed PNM government in the interests of foreign capital just four years after flag independence was proclaimed in1962.
It signalled the shift from trial of strength bargaining at the workplace to bargaining around the table at board rooms, hotels, conference rooms, the Ministry of Labour and the Industrial Court. It ushered in a cultural paradigm shift in the trade union movement. Unions had to build bureaucracies to meet the challenges of the new period. The tension grew between the trade union as instrument of liberation and the trade union as a critical element in system maintenance; between the "progressive" and "reactionary" lines in the movement between business unionism and working class unionism.
To appreciate the challenges facing the movement and the culture of the movement which gives those challenges their particular shape demands an understanding of the circumstances under which the Industrial Stabilisation Act came to be enacted. Knowledge of the ISA should be of great assistance in that regard.
Gerry Kangalee,
18 Feb 2013, 08:34