The Union frequently comments on events or receives news of general interest and these are documented on this page.
In recent Comedy
shows a local comedian was joking, about how a bartender resolved the problem
some customers had about who should pay the bill for drinks already consumed.
He said that it was resolved with a basin of water. The agreement was, that
they all would place their heads in the basin of water, and who came up first
would have to pay the bill. Needless to say the person who intended to pay for
a soft drink only drowned in the basin of water.
If it was that easy
to get rid of corrupt politicians and opportunist trade unionists, all our
problems would be resolved with one basin of water. Unfortunately, no such
option is recommended. We have to rely on a process whereby the masses are
educated about the true nature of the political and economic system and the
true nature of the class struggle which is being fought on a day to day basis
in our cultural industrial and social life.
would appear to the individual who is directly affected by an issue which she
was forced to bring to the attention of the authorities and the public that she
is alone in the wilderness, but if we examine the issue, whatever that is, we
would realise that it forms part of the class struggle; which is also the
struggle for democracy.
usually resides in the responses and the delays which result from the
individual’s quest for answers. If you are doubtful, let me point you to a few
examples. There are laws on the books of this country, which deal with matters
such as littering, health and safety, freedom of information, children's authority,
the environment authority and so on, but the respective entities charged with
the responsibility to manage and police these agencies are not functioning to
capacity, because they are starved for resources both human and material.
were established, because of public pressure demanding solutions to problems of
one kind or another. But what we must pay attention to is the fact that while
these agencies now exist, elements hiding in plain sight are deliberately
working to ensure that they do not serve the interest of the people. We see
this happening with the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) and Regional
When the RHAs
were established, it was claimed that it was to ensure that health care was
delivered in a more efficient and expeditious manner, but the resources
necessary to do so is usually slow in coming and in most instances are reduced
or are being spirited away from these institutions. The same was true when the
County Councils became known as Regional Corporations.
At the corporations
there was a reduction of personnel through the process of voluntary separation
and retrenchment and a constant reduction in expenditure annually. As a result,
a lot of the problems which the population now face relative to flooding in a
number of areas in the country can be traced back to these backward decisions.
In addition, the
fact that the Town and Country Planning Division is an entity which can be
likened to a no-teeth pit-bull, speaks to the fact that these state agencies
exist but are not allowed to serve the people's interest in the way that they
should and so planning, as is required in accordance with the act under which
it was established ceases to occur. The situation is the same with the Ministry
of Works and Transport. A lot of the work which it once used to do has been
contracted out to Coosals, Junior Sammy, SIS, and Seereram Brothers. And that
is not a recent happening under this government; that has been the case under
Some of you may
recall the race track scandal, when a company set up with $1.00, and owned by Ish
Galbaransingh got a million dollar contract to build a Race Track in Caroni. It
took a mass protest by the people, to stop that piece of corruption. That was
under a PNM government. The protest slogan was “Houses before Horses”
There has to be
some sinister reason for the actions of persons unknown who continue to hide in
plain sight while perpetrating this kind of corruption against citizens. These
are the individuals who manage the politics in the interest of the local ruling
class and the transnational corporations. They are the ones who call the shots.
Since in the days
of Gordon Draper we have been hearing about Public Sector Reform, but the
public is yet to grasp the real underlying reason for such reforms. These
reforms will affect the terms and conditions of employees in the public
service. In fact in the Public Service at this time there are more employees on
contract than ever before. The role of the Service Commission is being
systematically encroached upon by a Human Resources Department which has
assumed the function of employing personnel on a fixed term contract basis. From
as early as 1985, this practice of employing persons on fixed term contracts,
in permanent jobs has been occurring.
This is the case
in the energy sector as well as in the service sector in certain industries
such as the fast foods industry. The decision so to do originated in trade
agreements entered into with the World Trade Organization and the International
Monetary Fund (IMF). These employment policies, such as multi-tasking,
outsourcing, and so on that have been introduced into the labour market the
world over appear to have succeeded, largely because of the ideological
division which existed and still exists to a large extent in the trade union
movement both locally and internationally and because trade unions under
pressure from the recession were either not strong enough or chose to ignore
divisions have exposed, however, is a type of behaviour on the part of trade
union leaders in some jurisdictions in the capitalist world that smells of
capitulation to the enemy. It would appear that as long as their financial membership
is not severely affected the employer is free to employ persons on contract in
the establishment where they have bargaining rights. These leaders who enter
into such deals commit atrocities against their members and remain hiding in
Of more recent
vintage, is the Section 34 amendment bill which was proclaimed and then
repealed. What is very interesting about this is the fact that the Opposition
voted for it in both houses of Parliament. It was reported that the vote was
unanimous. Even the Independent Senators voted in support of the bill. What is
yet to be revealed are the reasons for it being so. All that we heard coming
from the Opposition was the condemnation which the public was encouraged to
heap upon the heads of the government and rightly so, but up to now, the leader
of the opposition is yet to give reasons as to why he supported the bill in the
When it was
discovered that matters concerning Ish and Steve were before the Court and that
they fell inside the time frame set by the legislation, panic set in and everything
was done to distract attention from their role in the apparent conspiracy to
deceive the people, while these two individuals go free. Then to confuse the
matter further, the allegations made in parliament by the Leader of the
Opposition about emails linking senior members of the government in a plot to
spy on the DPP and to intimidate a journalist surfaced. In my view, that was a
clever piece of work by which to divert attention away from the role of the PNM
in the whole kankalang. Remember Ish Galbaransingh and Brian Kuei Tung were
supporters of the PNM in the past.
The leader of the
Opposition did not explain to the satisfaction of the public the reasons why he
did not pass these emails over to the police immediately, as they were said to
contain evidence of a plot to commit murder and also to force the DPP to act in
ways prejudicial to his position as DPP.
We saw the
behaviour of the Opposition once again when it came to the Bills to amend the
Pensions Act to provide increases for Judges and members of Parliament. They
voted for the bills both in the lower and upper houses of Parliament and when
that behaviour was criticized, one opposition Senator was heard to describe
persons who objected as rats coming out of their holes. Again, while the
government received a severe tongue lashing from the public, the opposition
escaped with a slap on the hand.
No one has questioned
the reasons for such behaviour on the part of the opposition. We must remember
this PNM party, want to form the next government of Trinidad and Tobago, and
therefore, their credentials must be thoroughly scrutinized. We must remember
that along with being adept at the art of propaganda they are very skilled at
hiding in plain sight. Don't forget that they were in government for more than
thirty years and they represent the flip side of the PP.
So, what we must
begin to do immediately is to mobilize our forces at community, and
constituency level, and in the work place, for the struggle ahead regardless as
to which party wins the next election,. The enemies who are currently hiding,
whom we know but cannot recognize, will reveal themselves on the side of the
exploiters and will come to us bearing gifts.
We must be
prepared to meet them head on with a clear and unambiguous response, that we
want to see an end to privatization, amendments to the IRA to provide for
speedy recognition for unions at the
Registration Recognition and Certification Board, security of tenure for Judges
of the Industrial Court and also call on them to make public the names of those
companies who have been consistently delinquent in paying their taxes and the
number of years and the total amount owing to the Treasury, among other
We must also
begin our own campaign as well, to smoke out those who are hidden in the
shadows of the political parties who are doing their bidding with the intention
to have us vote one way or the other.
It is 52 years since we were “granted our independence” and 44 years since the 1970 revolution occurred. What is significant about these two events is that they were both about the quest for democracy.
In the case of the former, it was about political independence which was granted to us on the terms which the colonial masters set out, but in the latter case, it was the people who set out the terms. In 1962, the colonial masters dictated the nature of the democratic system and its political and economic structure; the very thing which has brought us to this very sad state in which we have found ourselves today.
It was in 1970, that the people began the first leg of the struggle to break the stranglehold of the colonial masters on the political and economic affairs of the country, when they demanded the nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy and called for an end to the practice of discrimination in the employment practices of the employer class who discriminated against people of African and Indian origin at that time.
The struggle for working class democracy is an essential feature of the class struggle. Here in this country it has assumed different forms and continues to do so even today. It is taking place before our very eyes in the communities: in the struggle for water, efficient health services, for better roads in communities, to save agricultural lands from being destroyed so that housing estates can replace food crops, to protect the livelihood of the fisherfolk, by protesting against the destruction of the fishing grounds and against the oil spills and so on.
We have been waging this struggle with forces at our disposal that have little or no schooling in the business of political warfare, neither at the leadership nor the secondary level and on a terrain of the enemy's choosing. As a consequence, the enemy was always able to determine the outcome of the battle.
In the past they have always been successful in causing us to divide our forces at the political level along ethnic lines and also along lines of trade union rivalry between leaders of the movement who place their personal interest above those of the movement when the political snake oil salesmen are jostling each other to be first in line to be chosen to manage this corrupt capitalist system. Another major obstacle which is placed in the path of the workers’ struggle is the destruction of the youths via the drug trade.
What we are witnessing today in the debate which is currently raging - whether it is about email gate, prison gate, the constitution amendment bills, or the bill to amend the pension act in favour of Judges and Parliamentarians - is the usual strategy to draw the working class into a debate which has absolutely nothing to do with its class interest.
The view is widely held by leaders in some sections of the working class that the two main political parties, as well as those on the fringe of the political landscape, may be persuaded to represent the workers’ interest if it is possible to influence them to do so. But that is a fallacy.
You hear the leaders of both the PNM and the PP proclaim that their actions for or against the enactment of this or that piece of legislation is in defence of our democracy: a democracy for which the working class, from 1937 to the present time, had to fight tooth and nail for every benefit they have gained in this country.
It must be remembered at all times, that the society in which we live, is fashioned to meet the needs of the capitalist ruling class, and therefore the laws are not amended or repealed to advance or protect the interest of the workers, unless the workers by brute force demand that such changes are made.
The capitalist class only makes concessions when it believes that the balance of forces is weighted heavily in favour of the working class. But in our case, with the quality of the leadership of the trade union movement and that of the entity which presents itself as the executor of the political estate of the working class, the prospects are very dim.
It takes a lot of hard work to build forces that are well schooled in working class ideas and the ability to fight and win struggles at the economic level; in the branches of the Unions firstly, and then in the political arena. This can only be achieved, when all the Unions can successfully build the democracy within the ranks of their respective memberships.
It is the strength of the democracy within the ranks of the unions and the political movement of the class which will determine the strength of the democracy we are seeking to build in the communities. At the same time we are waging the struggle against capitalist democracy, it is extremely important to ensure that the democracy we are striving to build is the brand of democracy which the working people want.
It is dangerous to assume that we can build democracy, without the active participation of the workers, farmers, the self-employed etc. We have to begin to learn that leaders cannot by themselves fight for the workers. Leaders of the working class must begin to understand that their role is to teach the workers how to fight, by ensuring that they are provided with the tools, with which to fight. The major tool is working class education: about the rich history of the class and about their rights as workers.
Some trade union leaders don't seem to understand that their failure to mount an aggressive campaign to organize that 81% of the labour force which is not organized amounts to collaboration with the capitalists to deny these workers their right to join a trade union. It amounts to aiding and abetting the capitalist class in the under-pricing of the workers’ labour power through the imposition of contract labour and all the ills of the liberalized policies which are designed to give the capitalists a strangle hold on the labour market.
In order to correct this grave injustice to that section of the labour force, the leadership of the trade union movement must set aside their differences and give priority to joint discussions to devise a strategy for the urgent task of recruiting and organizing that section of the labour force. It is the legal right of these workers to join trade unions and participate in trade union activities.
One of the rights which is enshrined in the Constitution of this country is the right to freedom of association. This, along with the right to form trade unions are to be found in Conventions of the I.LO, and are well known to Trade Unionists. So that when trade union leaders embark on excursions of opportunism for the purpose of ingratiating themselves with the capitalists they are damaging the confidence of working people in the integrity of the movement.
I am not commenting on these aspects of the behaviour of some leaders out of a desire to deny individuals the right to belong to political parties of their choice. On the contrary, it because I have a sense that the working class is of the unspoken view that their leaders must hold themselves to a higher standard while in the active leadership of the movement.
It is not sufficient to talk working class democracy without matching talk with action. What these leaders must understand, is that the struggle to increase the gains that we have made within the parameters of the capitalist democracy, is not the be all and end all of the class struggle. These gains that we have made, represent stages in a long struggle from the days of slavery
Since it would appear that the people seem to have perfected the art of voting governments out of office, my confidence in their wisdom in treating with such matters have grown. All we have to ensure is that we are ready when they are.
What is very dangerous is the participation of persons in the debate who purport to be representative of the interest of workers and who, in so doing, are sending a false signal to the members of the trade union movement and the working class as a whole that what capitalism needs is straightening and painting, along with the replacement of a few pistons and rings and everything will be all right. That is what the campaign for transparency, good governance and proper procurement is all about that is what the so-called campaign for democracy is all about.
That is not to say that these are not requirements necessary for the proper management of any political and economic system. What we have to understand, when we hear these utterances from certain quarters, is that these noises are made not in the class interest of the working people, but to give assurances to the international financial institutions and the World Trade Organization that the required safeguards are in place in accordance with the many trade agreements signed by the government; to ensure that our citizens meet obligations accrued on their behalf without their knowledge, by institutions of the state.
The following tribute was published in FORWARD, the bulletin of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), dated 4th August 2014.
Anthony Alexander was born on June 23, 1960. He joined the Trinidad External Telecommunication Limited (TEXTEL), in 1981. He was a Driver in the former TEXTEL Operations and was reclassified and reassigned to the Outside Plant Operations upon the advent of TSTT in 1991, which came about after TEXTEL assets were transferred into TELCO and the new entity was now called Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and Tobago, TSTT.
He was first reclassified as a Lines and Instrument Technician and then a Cable Maintenance Technician. Comrade Alexander, affectionately called “Speedy” was introduced to active service to the Communication Workers’ Union in the 1990’s by the former Secretary General, Comrade Lyle Townsend and became active in the Eastern Branch of the Union, subsequent to his reassignment and reclassification.
As the son of another former CWU stalwart, Comrade Stafford Alexander, Comrade Speedy became actively involved in the Progressive Workers Committee, the Progressive Arm of the CWU that utilized the process of propaganda, agitation, exposure and education to unite the many to defeat the few. After being intimately involved in the activities of the Branch, Comrade Speedy became Chairman of the Militant and Progressive Eastern Branch in 2011.
In a sense this Leadership was thrust upon him. Not being one to run away from a challenge, Comrade Speedy accepted his new role and served the Branch and the Union with distinction, commitment, humility, dedication and a sense of militant gentleman-ness.
At age fifty-four (54) Comrade Speedy earthly struggles came to an end. On August 04, 2014 Comrade Speedy departed this life to join with the likes of Comrade Lyle Townsend, his former trusted Friend and Comrade in the great Beyond. His work in reigniting the Eastern Branch is something that this Executive would always remember and cherish.
We hope that his struggles and his sacrifices for the cause of members of the Eastern Branch, members of the CWU and all working people would be used as a catalyst to spur on his Comrades of the Eastern Branch in fulfilling his dreams of a Militant, Progressive CWU, fearlessly defending and advancing the rights of Workers and the good of mankind.
Comrade Speedy dared to struggle. He was the epitome of the Union’s motto, ‘The price of freedom is eternal struggle”. His legacy as a Branch Chairman and Activist of the CWU will live on forever as he has blazed his own trail which we all will remember and admire. For this reason he will always be remembered as a great Eastern Branch Chairman.
On the week end the Commonwealth Games ended, one of our most respected sports commentators said to me during a social function. "So we pick up some silvers and bronze again." On the same weekend, NWU's Facebook page got a comment from Jamaica on a photo of Bhouwagjie Nkrumie running at the just concluded, miserably staged CUT Games in Trinidad.
Bhouwagjie is their Under eleven Boys 100m champion on whom they have their eyes already. We in Trinbago are still relying on the 2008 brigade to a large extent. Check out the 4x100m men’s' line up and compare it to what happened in the 200m men’s, final where a whole new team gave Jamaica "fus, secon’ and t'ird' as Sparrow says in "King of the Beasts." It should be noted that Jamaica participated successfully in field events such as the discus, winning gold, pole vault, in diving, in triple jump.
No, no, no! We were underachieving long before "Life sport'. While full credit is due to the individual performers who battle tremendous odds, we must recognise we have become what New Zealand represents in cricket. Holding our own with a good performance on a given day, but do not look for consistency.
Do we have the same ingredients for success? Ask Keshorn or Jehue or Michelle Ahye or Cleopatra Borrel or Machel Cedenio! Do we have young people interested in sports? This writer has received four requests from Sangre Grande, Fanny Village, Mayaro and Tacarigua, for assistance in introducing or developing programmes in basketball and track and field. These requests have come through the writer’s association with an outreach programme run by a state enterprise.
Do we have the financial resources? Ask Mr Daniel, the educator. Do we have the technical resources? There are dozens of trained young people of both genders whom I have encountered who want to share their training in sports management, sports psychology, administration, resource development and international relations in sport. There are many coaches and physical education teachers operating on shoe string budgets in schools and communities. Centres for higher learning? The UWI administration has resources which are on offer as well as UTT.
So where do we falter? My observation of many federations locally is that that they do not seem to understand the role of a sporting federation in a country's development. I am not speaking of that arrant nonsense about sports fighting crime. That premise is patently absurd. What are a modern sporting federation's mandate and its vision? What are the goals? This writer knows that since 2000 the IAAF set out to make track and field the #1 participatory sport in schools throughout the world'.
This was the era when basketball, football, swimming, lawn tennis were re-inventing themselves through their superstars and winning the athletes’ audiences and the sponsorship dollars. We see the results today in the 19 year old elite athletes from Kenya, the Caribbean and USA
What structures are in place to support these programmes? What kind of training do these administrators receive? Why are so many of them, to our eternal detriment, former athletes turned administrators who, as in Trinidad and Tobago, imagine running a federation is the same as carrying out a training programme? We have the classic example of football under Jack Warner's leadership. Good individual players but when it came to the national team we always floundered and under achieved on the bigger stage. Look at his legacy which haunts football today
For me this is the starting point. The Vietnamese say the house leaks from the roof and in the region we say fish rots from the head. A good parent brings the family together. Should not a good "parent body'' do the same?
Emancipation Day should be a day of great significance to people of the African Diaspora in the Caribbean. But it should be of significance not only to Africans in the society, but to all peoples who have known the oppression characteristic of European and North American imperialism which oppressed, dominated, enslaved and eliminated whole peoples, particularly non-white peoples. But which also constructed an elaborate ideological justification for its brutality toward non-white people - an ideology, or should I say a demonology of racism based on the most despicable pseudo-science which reached its highest level in South Africa - it was called APARTHEID!
Emancipation Day brought an end to 250 years of slavery in the British-controlled Caribbean and opened up a whole new era in Caribbean History which, instead of leading to the death of racism, only developed and strengthened that ideology with the introduction of Indian indentured labour.
What then is the relationship of emancipation to the labour question? It is pretty clear that the central question of modern Caribbean History is the question of labour: the need for regimented, captive labour; the shortage of labour; what Labour (in its personified sense) does, feels and thinks.
The question of Labour is inseparable from the question of the sugar/mono-crop economy, from the question of immigration into the West Indies, intra-migration within the West Indies and migration from the West Indies.
The fundamental statement about Labour in the Caribbean is that Labour has never had the decisive, the dominant say in how the society is to be organised even though labour is the foundation of the economy. Exploitation and repression, instead of freedom and power have so far been the lot of Labour.
Slavery was about the extreme exploitation of Labour so that Capital could be accumulated and used to colonise the world. The slave as different to the wage slave or modern worker did not sell his labour power for a wage. His labour power was forcibly appropriated. It was so appropriated that not only did the slave's labour power belong to the slave owner, the slave himself belonged to the slave owner.
The slave was part of capital. And if it is agreed that capital is accumulated or dead labour, then the dominance of capital over labour reached its most barbaric with the slave system, where the living worker/slave's life was absolutely dominated by the frantic scramble of British Capital to accumulate more and more in order to exploit more and more labour in order to accumulate more and more capital in a continually expanding spiral.
There have been many vivid descriptions about the conditions of existence of slaves in the Caribbean, but none more appropriate and gut-wrenching than is contained in one of Kamau Brathwaite's poems, All God’s Chillun, contained in his major work The Arrivants:
Boss man rates gain:
I am his living vein
his corn, his meat, his grain
Boss man lacks pride:
So hides his
fear of fear and darkness
in the whip
Boss man lacks pride:
I am his hide
of darkness. Bide
the black times Lord hide
my heart from the lips
from the hate
the sweating flesh
so wet so red
The quotation brings out two important aspects of slavery. The first deals with the fact that the slave owner was nothing without the slave: the slave owner absolutely depended on the slave in order to survive. The second is that Labour had to be subject to absolute coercion. Slavery without coercion is a contradiction in terms.
Let’s deal with the first aspect: “I am his living vein/of sustenance/his corn, his meal, his grain." What is being said is that capital is nothing without labour. It is precisely in the exploitation of labour that capital grows and assumes absolute dominance over the whole of society.
But if we take a look again at the quote “l am his living vein of sustenance”, it describes much more than the mode of organisation of labour called slavery. It also describes the relationship between the modern working class and the capitalists. It is, in fact, a description of the relationship between CAPITAL and LABOUR. It says that Capital is parasitic it feeds and grows upon Labour, in the process of which it emasculates, dominates and alienates Labour which is Capital’s 'living vein of sustenance’.
While slavery was abolished, the exploitation of Labour by Capital continues under changed and constantly changing forms. The exploitation of labour during Slavery‘s hey-day could be carried out in no other way than by forcible, physical appropriation and coercion, given the level of the productive forces and the state of evolution of society and the ideologies and philosophies arising therefrom.
But by the time the slaves were emancipated in the l830's, the British ruling class had gained enough experience in exploiting its own working class to be confident that emancipation would not mean the end of colonial imperialism in the Caribbean, the domination of capital over labour and the dominance of White over Black.
In fact, they had enough experience to know that if Emancipation did not come from above, it would come from below. And if it did come from below, the status quo would be radically different. The Haitian Revolution had taught them that the slaves were not going to put up with slavery for much longer and they were determined to be free, whether by petition or by violent means.
Ever since Eric Williams published his book Capitalism and Slavery, reactionary
and racist European historians have been forced to recognise that the changing needs of capitalism made the abolition of slavery an historical necessity. Before the publication of that book, Eurocentric history had postulated that it was the agitation of the so-called humanitarians - the Wilberforces and the Clarksons that led to Emancipation.
Today, it is generally accepted that it was the changing needs of capitalist, political economy which gave rise to Wilberforce and Clarkson. The humanitarians did not agitate for emancipation because they were against the brutalisation of Africans by Europeans or against man's inhumanity to man.
They recognised that for capitalist economy to stand pre-dominant remnants of pre-capitalist social formations had to be dealt with, and that slavery as a form of labour organisation was much more wasteful and expensive than the new powerful and gigantic forces of production brought into being by the then ongoing industrial revolution.
The spokesmen of the British Bourgeoisie knew that for British capitalism to really create and dominate the world market, preferential treatment for West Indian sugar had to go, colonial monopolies had to go. In British capitalism‘s development into capitalist imperialism free trade was an absolute necessity. The West Indian plantocracy was naturally opposed to free trade. They had to be dealt with. They were dealt with by the method of destroying the basis of their power – SLAVERY!
The American bourgeoisie had to go to war twenty-five years later with the American slave plantocracy in order to clear the way for the expansion and development of American Capitalism.
This is pretty much accepted today by right wing historians. What is frantically hidden is that while it was recognised that the abolition of slavery was a historical necessity for the further expansion of capitalism, the political realisation of that goal did not depend on intellectual understanding, but on the outcome of the clash of class interests both within the U.K. and in its colonies.
The argument about whether slavery should be abolished or when slavery should be abolished could have gone on for another generation. The decisive push toward Emancipation came from the movement of the slaves themselves.
The objective “laws” of capitalist development can only operate and be discerned in the subjective activity and struggles of the contending class forces in capitalist society. The intervention of the slaves settled all debate and pushed the ruling classes to hasten the end of slavery. If they had not, the slaves inevitably would have. This perspective is useful in understanding the forces that led to the end of apartheid in South Africa.
The opening shot in the drama of the slaves' intervention began in l791 with the great Haitian Revolution which began only two years after the French Revolution. The significant thing about the revolution in Haiti is not so much that the slaves revolted. Slaves had always revolted.
The fundamental dynamic of West Indian history is to be found in the spiral of repression and resistance that continues to this day. The significance of the Haitian Revolution is that it succeeded and in succeeding, opened a thirst for and an ideology of liberation that spread throughout the Caribbean.
The Haitian Revolution shattered, at least from a historical point of view, the myth of the 'docile negro; the myth of the intellectually, physically and morally inferior African.
The myth gave rise to British philosopher - David Hume, saying: "I am apt to suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the Whites”; the myth which led the third President of the U.S.A. Thomas Jefferson, who made so much noise about the rights of man to say: "I advance it therefore as a suspicion only that the blacks...are inferior to the whites in the endowment both of body and mind.”
After the Haitian revolution, only pseudo-scientists and dishonest intellectuals like Trollope and Froude (who was so devastatingly deal with by John Jacob Thomas, the Afro-Trinidadian linguist and educator in his book FROUDACITY, published in the 1880’s) could still argue with equanimity that Blacks were an inferior people.
What the revolution in Haiti did was to spawn a series of never ending revolts throughout the Caribbean that convinced the colonial authorities that it was time for slavery to go. In the words of one historian: "Economic change, the decline of the monopolists, the development of capitalism...had now reached their completion in the determination of the slaves themselves to be free."
Let’s sum up what led to emancipation. In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, the West Indies became the sugar pots of Britain and Western Europe. Sugar was produced by slave labour which was procured on the coasts of West Africa, in the process destroying many societies and civilisations which were as developed as those of Western Europe.
The trade in slaves, the production of sugar by slave labour and the trade in sugar gave rise to astronomical profits for British capitalists. So invaluable were the West Indian sugar islands to mid-eighteenth century Europe that at the end of the seven years war in 1763, between Britain and France, which Britain won, the French were quite content to let the British keep Canada in exchange for Guadeloupe.
The very prosperity that slavery brought to British capital was eventually to make slavery redundant. The capital accumulated throughout slavery led to investments in science, technology and engineering, created the industrial revolution, brought into being productive forces based on machinery, speeded up the process of proletarianisation of the British rural population, changed the social structure of Britain and prepared British capitalism for its task of bringing the whole world into the capitalist market. In the process slavery became obsolete, an historical anachronism.
But not because a system has become historically unnecessary will it fall of its own accord. The slave did not wait for it to fall they battered the slave system with continuous insurrection. The British Government took readings and instituted Emancipation from above rather than afford more Haitis in the Caribbean. That is how Emancipation came about.
What we must now look at are its lessons. The abolition of slavery did not mean an end to the exploitation of labour; it merely changed its form. When the masses revolted, Emancipation was conceded, but the plantation system survived and indeed expanded on the basis of indentured labour, which carried forced labour into the twentieth century.
Emancipation did not remove colonialism, did not put power in the hands of the working people. In l937, when the wage slaves revolted, the colonial authorities conceded limited rights to the people, but the cause of the revolt, the exploitation of labour by capital continued. When the people of the Caribbean after the Second World War demanded independence and control over their destinies, we were diverted with political independence under the rule of middle class professionals who implicitly supported capitalism.
When, in 1970, the working people demanded economic independence, an end to racism and power to the people, the ruling classes in T&T who are allied with international capitalism gave us localisation and state capitalism. The exploitation of Labour by Capital remains.
Emancipation, while carrying society to a more advanced level, did not solve the basic contradiction of West Indian history: the capital-labour contradiction. It simply placed it on a new footing. The resolution of that contradiction lies solely in the hands of the modern working class. That is our historic mission. Let us make haste and complete the unfinished revolution that our ancestors began.
In a powerful show of what used to obtain and should be re-introduced in the labour movement, Transport and Industrial Workers Union (TIWU) President Roland Sutherland and members of his executive team led hundreds of National Maintenance, Training and Security (MTS) workers in a powerful demonstration outside the Ministry of Education, St. Clair Avenue, Port of Spain, on Monday July 28th 2014.
They were protesting plans by the Ministry to cut the staff at schools across the nation and contract out/privatise the functions of maintenance and security that MTS carries out not only in schools but in other government offices and formerly at the stadia. Citing audit after audit and performance assessment surveys done over the years, Comrade Sutherland has always pointed out the viability and sustainability over the years MTS has been functioning.
The workers, overwhelmingly female and many single parents voiced their concern that Education Minister, Tim Gopeesingh plans to throw them on the breadline which would further exacerbate the social trauma besetting the nation. Their math, in the glaring absence of teachers who will be affected by the actions of MTS, was simple and succinct. Mothers' unemployment = can't mind the children = pressure on the family unit = hustling to survive = youth turning to crime = more of the social havoc we are reaping today. The picket signs said it all.
Anyone who has worked in education long enough or are familiar with how schools are run would tell that the MTS workers soon become part of the staff and assist directly and indirectly in managing the school. Several of them stay at schools as long as teachers do. Comrade Sutherland has always maintained that the trust built up between MTS workers and many staff members cannot and should not be sacrificed on the altar of the God of greed.
The two and a half hours in a hot July sun on St. Clair Avenue, a stone's throw away from the
homes of members of the ruling class did not faze the will and determination of the workers who are showing a clearer understanding of what is to be done and how to go about doing it than many established leaders. It is clear that these workers will do all that is necessary to keep their jobs and that when necessary they will 'wheel and come again'
Up until 11 o 'clock, the only other media house apart from NWU that showed up was CNC 3. Nevertheless Tim surely would have heard or been told of the rumbling at his door caused by the mothers and fathers of the working class who will not let him sacrifice their children.
While Tim is trying to route more public funds into the pockets of well-connected hustlers, morally bankrupt and venal private educators openly declare that the ill gotten $34m they got from Tim's government is theirs to keep and they have no intention of returning it. The irony in the whole affair is that Gopeesingh’s ministry owes MTS more than fifty five million dollars.
Notably absent was any official representation from TTUTA. This is unfortunate since the actions of the MTS staff affect the schools. Take heed educators!
the relentless Chaguaramas land rights activist, has died. Noel fought for over
fifty years for the land rights of farmers and fishermen who originally lived
in the North West Chaguaramas peninsular.
were evicted and resettled in the hilly and infertile Carenage area during the Second
World War (1939-1945) to make way for an American naval base. The Chaguaramas
base was one of several United States military bases and garrison camps set up
in our country. Two others were the Waller Field base in Arima and Carlsen Field
that the agreement between the Colonial British and Imperial United States
governments was in exchange for battleships urgently needed by the British military
that were receiving a battering from the German war machine and were on the
brink of defeat.
The other reasons
given were to protect the essential petroleum supplies of our country from
getting into the hands of the Nazis from a possible German invasion and secure
our oil supplies for use by the Americans and British war machines. British
Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin Roosevelt, who
shortly thereafter paid a visit to Trinidad and Tobago, signed the military
pact. The authorities displayed a total lack of concern for Augustine Noel’s
family and the other displaced landowners.
were debarred from entering these military sites (owned by the Noels and other
families) except for workers at the bases during their working hours. The roads
the Americans built to facilitate their operations between bases (e.g.
Churchill-Roosevelt Highway) were known as Military Police (MP) roads and were
out of bounds to our vehicles. Concrete and steel sentry gates were erected at
the entrances to the bases. The relics of theses gates are still present at the
people sometimes with the help of US officers set up entertainment areas close
to the bases. In the West, from Bayshore/Point Cumana down to Carenage and up
to St. James, hotels, bars and entertainment centres were established for the
soldiers’ entertainment and recreation with local women. These facilities were
also established in Arima and Chaguanas.
Lord Invader’s Rum and Coca Cola and Sparrow’s Jean and Dinah sing to
the issue of the Yankee occupation of our country.
officers, it is said, brought with them US racketeering and encouraged bobolism
with some of our contractors and gangsters like the infamous Boysie Singh, a
night-club owner, and with another who was a famous politician and religious
leader. Many of these local contractors and night club owners became
millionaires through Yankee corruption while Augustine Noel and the land owners
of Chaguaramas lost their lands and livelihood of farming and fishing on their
ancestral property and were relocated to barren lands at Carenage.
Some books have also been written on the issue
(Caliban and the Yankees
is one such publication) but I have not read any that addresses the pain and
suffering of the dispossessed people like Augustine Noel nor the families that
were broken up and destroyed by the US soldiers who occupied our country for
some twenty odd years.
taken of our women and our workers employed at these bases, the cultural immorality,
the fatherless children and the decadent lifestyle that came with the Americans
were adopted by some of our people. The legacy of these towns still exists with
sought the help and solidarity of the Trade Union Movement in his struggle to
regain the Chaguaramas lands to the original occupants. He became a part of most
demonstrations and protest actions of workers and enjoined his land issue to
those of the Trade Unions.
He was part of
the recent JTUM demonstration in Port of Spain. In return, the unions will
assisted in printing pamphlets and supporting his struggle some of which took
place at the site of the injustice in the North West Peninsular. Once he sought
to erase the American sign to the sentry gate at Chaguaramas. Augustine Noel
fought his battle on many fronts (including legal battles) and sought the
assistance of anyone interested in justice and fair play.
In some of the
conversations and visits to Chaguaramas, Noel showed us the plot of land his
grandfather’s house was built upon and where he (Noel) was born. This plot is
near the Convention Centre and as any valuator will agree they are among the
most valuable lands in the country with a seafront and arable soil. He would
take us to the streets which today still bear the names of the original
landowners. Augustine showed us the church where he as a child and his
ancestors worshipped together with the other families and the cemetery where
his ancestors are buried.
In one of our
discussions Augustine Noel told us that one of the happiest moments of his life
was when Trinidad and Tobago gained political independence from the British and
our first Prime Minister Eric Williams launched a campaign for the return to
our country of the Chaguaramas lands.
He marched and
agitated for the cause, thinking that the forcibly taken lands by the British
and Americans would be returned. But he was in for a shock; instead of meeting
with the landowners and negotiating a return of their lands, the government of
the day laid claim to the lands as state property and set up two military camps
at Staubles and Scotland Bays as well as a statutory authority to manage the
Chaguaramas area. Even then he thought that the original landowners had a
better chance of justice with their own government than with the British and
negative response from all governments since independence Augustine Noel fought
on until his death a few weeks ago. Many of us who interacted with him were
unaware of his passing until we saw Verna St. Rose’s post on Face Book. This
champion of working people’s rights was unceremoniously buried. Despite his
struggles, farmers growing food on the stolen lands at Chaguaramas were
recently evicted and their crops destroyed by the Chaguaramas Development
conglomerates and favoured businessmen were given leases for the stolen lands
in Chaguaramas. The mad scramble and corruption is ongoing and will intensify
as the politicians and the ruling elite continue their land grab for the
properties the British and Americans stole from Augustine Noel and the original
land owners of the North West Peninsular. All our governments have adopted and
continued the Chaguaramas land stealing banditry of the Colonial British and
the Imperial American governments.
Rest In Peace
Brother Augustine Noel. You have left Working People a legacy of Permanent
Struggle for what is Just and Right. Farewell Comrade.
So there is another video out there of another parent 'disciplining' a child with a shovel. What amazes me is that some of the strongest supporters of the mother who 'disciplined' her daughter for the 'selfies' she posted on Facebook and posted same, these very avid fans of corporal punishment are now saying "Nah, she should not have used a shovel''.
I have been asking them "Why not?'' Licks is licks! The rationale used the last time was that the level and form of violence is relative to the perceived threat. So if the present #1 video "Barbarism Gone Wild'' is a step up from "Brutality Gone Wild'' we have to accept it on the same principle. That is why I am sure the next viral video will show the use of a backhoe on some child who is perceived to be 'at risk'.
The educators and martinets in the ranks of firm disciplinarians will assure us that the particular child will “never do that again''. Sounds much like the Gary/Kamla duo doesn't it? "Raise the threat level to orange and release the dogs of war as we take the fight to the enemy''.
Colour me orange now becomes "Threat level orange'. Soldiers will now patrol these 'hotspots'. What is a 'hotspot? Anywhere poor working class....sorry am being redundant here...anywhere presently marginalised, unemployed people are hemmed in and pressured from all sides and are surviving by any means necessary: under the guns of the gangs or of the police/soldiers, which of whom it is almost impossible to tell.
Given the reports coming out of these 'sectors' (see I am using the language and style of the ruling class media: these lawless 'elements' live in 'sectors') I am reminded of a saying they use in Kenya: "The police and the army are the tribes with the guns”. So have the police and army become our gangs in uniform? Are the soldiers not patrolling with their faces covered with balaclavas?
So there is a link to St. Michael’s Home for Boys to what transpired in the Princes Town "Light him afire' police station, the Youth Training Facility, the orphanages and Remand yards. Some of us do not realise that this is a system and that light is being shone on dark corners. Do we imagine it is a co-incidence that rebellions are occurring at all these institutions? Yesterday St. Jude’s; today St. Michael’s; a while back St.Mary's Home? Damn! Let's start with a name change. These saints ain't wukkin!
Those of us who are imagining that come May 2015 a 'change is gonna come' had better wake up. The Prime Minister in waiting has more important things to do. He has already voted for enhanced benefits for himself and his crew. See, dear friends, the poor do not finance election campaigns..They just vote for who is going to fool them.
"The Gods must be crazy?" Isn't that what the average Brazilian football fan thinking? Or they must be against such wasteful economics, of which the Woe Cup might be one form. To suffer such a melt down is almost inconceivable in football: not unheard of if you follow the constant misfortunes of the West Indian cricket team. They manage embarrassing loss after loss without inputs from the Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister.
Now Pele, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Romario know what Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd and Andy Roberts have lived through. Inconceivable, unimaginable and incredible: it is as if we heard one morning that Mother Theresa had donned a pair of tight shorts, had taken a couple tattoos, was wearing a low cut top and was thumbing rides in a Calcutta neighbourhood. No one would believe the Room 201 video with the Hindi voiceovers. Guess in a case like that we would all blame the Pope.
Scolari has in his own lifetime become legend. No one in Brazilian football has been an architect of such epic disaster. The 3rd place play-off was supposed to offer some respite after "Seven-up'' had become the national drink of Brazil. Now the most popular song in Brazil has to be Mighty Sparrow's "Ten to one is Woe Cup'.
Maybe Neymar is thanking, in some ironic way, the Columbian defender who helped him avoid this debacle. Like the Manchester United footballers who were not on board when their team's flight went down in 1957, this young man's burden, temporarily lifted through injury will return tenfold since he will be expected, in some corners, to lead a Brazilian football recovery. Let us hope he does better than Brian Lara who actively sought captaincy of the West indies cricket team, a task for which he proved monumentally unsuited..
I look forward to seeing soon on social media Scolari and Otis Gibson exchanging pennants and jerseys.
I wonder what Jack's take on all of this is? Nostalgia and sneaking admiration for the official who reportedly pulled off a U$ 52m. dollar scam? Regret that he is the one man who could have saved Scolari's hide by offering a job as Trinidad and Tobago's coach? It is the only country in the world that would offer him a job right now and get the government to pay for it.
Big Phil would be the latest in the line of dead beat coaches Jack managed to hire during his reign as "Special Adviser'' to the local federation. In passing; you all remember Vranes who was our national coach almost two decades ago? He is back in the local mix according to media reports…and why not? Eastern Europe has tended to be politically hot of late.
Do we realise this is the first time Jack has watched the World Cup on a big screen T.V? I wonder if they missed him in Brazil. He could not even share his big screen with Errol who himself could not accompany the P.M. Somebody has to stay here and take the fall vis-a-vis Watson Duke and call for the jailing of trade unionists who are legitimately defending the interests of workers, maverick style notwithstanding.
Hard to believe this Minister was first vice president of a union, fourteen of whose members were jailed in 1982 for refusing to obey a court injunction instructing them to vacate their occupation of the Bermudez Biscuit Company. It is interesting that none of the others seem anxious to act in the P.M's absence. I guess with just about ten months to go in office they have more important things to do than try to sound powerful and statesman-like to a totally cynical national audience.
Some of our ancestors arrived in this place not by choice or necessity. They were kidnapped and brought here as slaves. Others came by choice and necessity and had to endure conditions not much different from slavery. The socio-economic conditions existing at that time were not of their making. In fact in our history, there are many accounts of organised resistance against the system of slavery and indentureship.
After slavery was abolished, the struggle took on a different character as the relationship at the economic level changed from that of slave and slave master to that of worker and employer. This was because the introduction of indentured labour into the colony, notwithstanding the restrictions the law placed on that type of labour, brought with it a change in the employment relationship.
If you were to attempt to paint a picture of Trinidad and perhaps Tobago at that time, what you would see was a country in which you had the Governor and all the British subjects who formed part of the state apparatus and the commercial establishment; the French planters who controlled the fertile lands in the country and the former slaves and those who came as indentured immigrants.
The last two groups had no say in the administration of the country, and although the ex-slaves were no longer the property of a slave master, they were still regarded as raw material for use in the production process.
According to Dr. Bridget Brereton, by the year 1870 however, the political landscape had already seen “the emergence of a coloured and black middle class espousing the ideology of Black Nationalism”. In her book Race Relations in Colonial Trinidad 1870-1900 she said that group “held the key to the political future of Trinidad.”
As things turned out that statement was proven over and over to be true because it was the middle class who was always available to act as an obstacle in the class struggle against the interest of the working class whose only desire was to bring about political and economic change in a system which had and still has as its main objective the exploitation of the working class.
The emergence of a middle class was not a result of some plot hatched by those who were regarded as being of that class. This was the natural outcome of the education system existing at that time, for the purpose of producing a certain category of personnel for the labour market and also to be used as a buffer between the ruling class and the working class in times of heightened class conflict.
But in that period 1870 to 1900, one would obviously ask, where did this middle class come from? Well, the middle class was the product also, of a generation of former house slaves who the plantation owners, of necessity, had to train to perform several functions, without which the plantation system could not operate efficiently and those who were described as being of the middle class were the children of these ex-house slaves.
We must also remember that religion played a major role in the education system then, and still does now. So that through the use of religion, the middle class was schooled in the culture of the ruling class and as a result felt a certain closeness to that class.
They were made to feel different in status and in their station in society. Therefore, through social conditioning (social engineering), the middle class believed themselves to be higher in status than the working class.
It was against this background that those who were members of the Trinidad Working Men’s Association approached Captain Cipriani to lead them, after their Association collapsed under the blows of the colonial government after the general strike of 1919; thus the Trinidad Labour Party was formed. It is reasonable to speculate that during the early years, of the twentieth century while the political climate on the international scene was volatile-with wars in Europe- conditions in Trinidad were also unsettled.
The major access to news about what was happening was through sailors who visited these shores and through the literature that they sometimes brought into the country. It is not difficult therefore to understand why the port of Port of Spain was a hotbed of labour unrest.
The Port was the first major industry and also a place where the workers came into contact with all types of foreigners; those who were from countries where Unions were engaged in campaigns against the war; those who were affiliated to revolutionary organisations and so on. In those circumstances, it is easy to see how the Port would have been a place where revolutionary ideas would have taken root and spread into the rest of the Island.
These ideas quite naturally would have fed the revolutionary spirit of the people thereby reinforcing their determination to fight for change and perhaps to the extent that they wanted to change not only the political system but the economic structure as well. This fact can be gleaned from the position which was later taken by the Butler Party, which was not only campaigning for political independence, but for economic independence as well.
Our ancestors of African and East Indian origin were never supporters of capitalism. But with the resources available to them, the only option was to fight for reforms. And that was where the struggles took them. From 1937 to the present time all we have been struggling for is reforms to the oppressive capitalist system.
It is true that we have seen some improvement in the quality of life of our citizens largely due to the resilience and struggles of our people. The problem however, is that while we have demonstrated the capacity to wage struggle and achieve our objectives in the past, our attempts to take the struggle to a higher level have been meeting with failure.
The question which must be in the forefront of our minds is who or what has been responsible for our failures? Well, the answer is to be found in the way we choose our leaders and the fact that working people always hold the belief that their interest will be served by persons who claim to be for the working class. And so, consistent with the desire for change and democracy for the underclass, we have been placing our trust in different political parties who make grand promises on the campaign trail and argue, subsequently, that they did not mean what they said.
The strike called by the Trinidad Working Men’s Association at the port of Port of Spain in 1919 quickly bloomed into the first general strike in the country. This meant for the colonial powers that a new threat to their authority was looming on the political landscape. The strike was broken and the leaders arrested and imprisoned. Since many of the strikers were from the smaller islands, many who were regarded as leaders were deported back to their respective territories.
Following the destruction of the Association and the formation of the Trinidad Labour Party, the movement was taken over by middle class elements led by Captain Arthur Cipriani who contested a seat on the legislative council and went on to represent the party in that place.
It is said that the Chief Servant Uriah Buzz Butler and Cipriani did not see eye to eye because while Cipriani was regarded in some quarters as the champion of the barefoot man, in others he was suspected of having a foot in the camp of the ruling class. So that the influence of the middle class on the party might have served its purpose up to a particular point, but because of the class contradictions inherent within its relations with the two contending classes it was not able to represent the class interest of the working people by taking the struggle to a higher level.
This is because the middle class tends not to see a connection between its class interest and that of the workers. In this case where the working people were mainly interested in achieving political and economic change the middle class elements were not. The middle class represents a kind of buffer zone in the class struggle, which is never stable; it is always shifting in the direction of the class which it perceives to have the power and in whose favour the balance of forces might have shifted.
When in the 1930s workers focused their attention on the inhuman conditions under which they had to work in the oilfields and the sugar estates the struggle for the right to form Trade Unions and to negotiate terms and conditions of employment began. As we know, the Oilfields Workers Trades Union and the All Trinidad Sugar Estates and Factory Workers Trades Union were formed in 1937 as was the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union.
Following this development it is clear that the leaders of the mass movement realised that they had won a major battle and as a result they mobilized and launched another major political offensive against the colonial powers demanding the right to vote and won that right in 1946. In that period leading up to 1946, and after, there were many other political parties who entered the political arena, one such party was led by Albert Gomes and had support within the working class.
The struggle for democracy was gaining ground in a place where rights and freedoms for the former slaves and indentured immigrants did not exist before. This fact could not have been good news for the colonial office and as a result they had to find a way to respond to the threat posed by this unhealthy development: for them of course.
Ten years after that major victory Dr. Eric Williams, appeared on the political scene. Prior to his entry into the politics, he was an employee of the colonial office, he was from the middle class and he was well educated and because of the position he held in that office, he was knowledgeable about all the leading personalities in the politics of the 1940s.
He was therefore ideally suited for the task of directing the struggle for political and economic change down the road of more reforms and away from meaningful change; and he succeeded in so doing to the point where today the task ahead of us to break the mould is a daunting one.
In 1965-66 trade union leaders, persons who were affiliated to Marxist study groups and certain progressive elements with interest in the working class, as well as some progressive members of the middle class, came together and formed the Workers and Farmers Party.
That party had within its ranks persons who, were considered to be schooled in the ideology of the working class. Therefore their commitment to the working class was beyond question. And so, when the election date was announced the W.F.P. went on the campaign trail competing with parties such as the People's National Movement and the Democratic Labour Party in the belief that its credentials were of such outstanding quality that in the eyes of the workers it was the right choice. When the votes were counted the results showed that all the candidates lost their deposits.
An analysis as to the reasons why that party lost the elections will reveal the fact that it is not sufficient to be committed ideologically and politically to the working class; one must also have unbreakable links within the communities where the workers live, play and work. It is not sufficient to be a leader of a trade union and expect that fact will win you enough respect in the eyes of the working class. We have to feel what they are feeling and live what they are living.
Working class leaders who are fighting in the trenches against the exploitative nature of capitalism must be able to counter the propaganda war on which the capitalist has embarked and which is aimed at the minds and hearts of the working class. In order to win that war we must become closer to the workers in all spheres of their daily lives.
That task can only be achieved when the party of the working class is close to the people; when the leaders are down in the trenches with them and when the working people are prepared to defend the party with their lives. Because the capitalists intend to win the propaganda battle and if they win the battle for the minds they know that they can win the war.
The major battle that is being fought today is the battle for the minds of the people. The weapon that is being used in that battle is all the branches of the media and information technology: the internet. Mind you, the internet and info tech is good. But the fact is who controls the flow of information can control what you know do and think; it's a mind game!
Whereas in the past the use of force and fear were the tools being used by the powers that be to control the population, the advances made in the area of technology have provided new tools which are added to the old which have been tried and tested. But notwithstanding these developments, we must face our fears and take charge of our destiny. We must not continue to place our destiny in the hands of middle class elements that purport to be committed to the struggle of the working class in words but not in deeds.
Our task now is to place the struggle for true political and economic change back on the agenda and never again must we allow ourselves to be diverted away from the struggle and the task that our ancestors had set themselves which was to rid our country not only of colonialism but also of capitalism.
So, one will agree, that there is a common thread running through all of the struggles from the 1900s through to the 1970s and that thread is connected to the task of building a political party which is strong; with leaders who are committed in mind, body and spirit to the difficult task of leading the working class out of the bondage of capitalist exploitation and into a new political and economic arrangement.
Subsequent to the brutal attack launched on a demonstration of workers in San Fernando by the Police (Bloody Tuesday March 18th 1975), a number of Trade Unions and individuals came together and formed the United Labour Front. Many political groups of different ideological shades were involved in the formation of that party. The party contested the election in 1976 and succeeded in forming the opposition in the Parliament.
Most of the left groups might have committed themselves to the task of ridding this country of capitalism but they all failed to achieve their objective because they allowed themselves to be caught in the political conflict which was raging between Eastern Europe (the U.S.S.R.) and the U.S.A during the period of the cold war.
All of those organisations had committed comrades within their ranks, but they could not see beyond the ideological conflicts in which they were engaged. There were those who believed that the time was appropriate to take the struggle to the ultimate limit. That course of action failed to bring about the required result, not because it is not a tool of the struggle, but because it was a decision whose execution was not appropriately suited to the circumstances which presented themselves then.
Against the background of the failures experienced in our attempts to form a Party of the Working Class with the capacity to weather the political storms, there are lessons which we must learn. One such lesson is that at no time must we seek to travel - politically and ideologically- ahead of the people's desires and aspirations.
However, we must always be prepared, to take the next step when and only when the working people are ready to do so. This does not mean that we should not call the brothers and sisters to a time and place where we can begin the discussions about the party of the working class and what type of policies and programmes and objectives it must set itself. We must initiate the discussions now.