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posted 28 Apr 2012, 05:50 by Gerry Kangalee




The National Workers Union (NWU) expresses deep, heartfelt condolences on the death of Comrade Lyle Townsend to his family and to the members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU).


Comrade Townsend, former Secretary General of CWU, was a central figure in the labour movement and the left political movement from the mid-seventies when he burst on the scene by, astonishingly, defeating the Carl Tull regime which had a vice-like grip on the CWU and which lined up that union firmly on the side of Eric Williams’ right wing PNM regime.


He is mainly responsible for leading the transformation of the CWU into the militant, progressive trade union it has become and was responsible for getting rid of the delegate system of voting in the union and introducing one man; one vote.


Comrade Townsend was a significant figure in the work done by the Council of Progressive Trade Unions (CPTU) from the seventies until the early nineties along with other like Michael Als, Cecil Paul, Alva Allen and Glen Ramjag.


Known for his integrity and his refusal to be seduced by the blandishments of the employers, Comrade Townsend stayed true to the philosophy of advancing, protecting and defending workers interests through militant, indeed, uncompromising struggle.


This attitude brought him into conflict, not only with employers and their political handmaidens, but with his own colleagues in the trade union movement, many of whom saw him as an extremist who had to be thoroughly convinced of a line of action before he would support its adoption.


But while some may have disagreed with the perspective and tactics adopted by Comrade Townsend, no one could question his unwavering commitment to the advancement of the working class, to the progressive trade union movement and to the need for an independent political path forward for working people, unencumbered by ties with the employers and neo-liberal parties and governments.


The National Workers Union salutes this fallen hero of the working class and urges trade unionists to seek inspiration in a life dedicated to the the advancement of the trade union movement and the interests of the working class.


Gerry Kangalee,
28 Apr 2012, 06:01