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LABOUR HERO JOE YOUNG DIES

posted 2 Oct 2012, 20:16 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 3 Oct 2012, 05:47 ]
Comrade Joe Young, the founder of the Transport and Industrial Workers Union, died on October 2nd 2012. Comrade Young had been ailing for some time. 

Joe Young, along with George Weekes, stood as a giant of the labour movement in the post-independence period of T&T. He led the fight to nationalise the bus transport system in the country and TIWU could rightly be considered as being responsible for the formation of the PTSC. 
 
TIWU was conceived in the 1961 revolt of workers in the bus industry in South Trinidad against the mis-leadership of their then union. The first great struggle was for registration which took place in 1962 along with recognition for bus workers. In the three years that followed, TIWU, led by Joe Young, called ten strikes in their quest to have the bus service nationalised, including one which lasted fifty six days. This battle was won in 1965. 

Comrade Young was one of the leaders of the fight against the Industrial Stabilisation Act. Yet, when the Act became law he became one of the best advocates in the Industrial Court. He understood that the law was set up to defend the interests of the employers, but he also understood that workers had to be defended at all times despite the arena and he defended them brilliantly. 
 
He stated his position on the Industrial Court as follows:
“…we never took the position that the Industrial Court is the best medium for workers industrial struggles. We knew that it is a false position for workers to hold the view that the Industrial Court could grant benefits that they are unable or unwilling to struggle for on their own” 

Joe Young led TIWU through the bitter bus strike of 1969 which opened the way for the 1970 revolution and was viewed with great respect by his allies and his enemies as an unyielding defender of the working class. So committed was he that he turned down the offer of the Trinity Cross from the PNM government who he considered, quite rightly, to be anti-working class. 
 
Comrade Young served as a Senator for the opposition United Labour Front in 1976. Subsequent to his leaving TIWU in 1979 he became a farmer, an adviser to University and Allied Workers Union, the Banking Insurance and General Workers Union, OWTU and the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) and an Industrial Court judge.
The National Workers Union extends deepest condolences to the family of Comrade Young and to all the members of the Transport and Industrial Workers Union... more
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