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THE JIMMY SINGH I KNEW by Alva Allen

posted 21 Aug 2019, 19:39 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 21 Aug 2019, 20:13 ]
I first met Jimmy Singh in 1972 when I went to attend an Area Committee of NJAC.

Like myself we were both East Indians growing up in different parts of the predominantly African Laventille. But this really made no difference to the people of our communities.

1972 was an important era in our lives. It was a time when coming out of the Black Power Revolution in 1970, many were seeking a way forward to a Just and Fair Society. This led us to be part of a collective that studied Marxism -Leninism. It was this ideological orientation that Jimmy would use to guide him in all his contribution and sacrifices for building a truly independent and democratic society free from the curse of injustice, poverty, hunger, under-development and the exploitation of man by man.

The success of the Cuban revolution in overthrowing an oppressive regime and beginning to build a new democracy, a people’s democracy influenced Jimmy’s confidence in the future. Of course, the similar efforts of the revolutionary masses of China, North Viet Nam, the Liberation struggles in Latin America, the revolutionary movements in Angola and Mozambique all inspired Jimmy to go forward and make his sterling contribution. I must admit that he was particularly enthused by the Naxalbari uprising in India. It was these developments that bolstered his belief that Capitalism is not eternal and a Just and Fair society was possible.

It would be remiss of me if I did not say that it is most regrettable that very early in his journey in this collective he and others were politically victimised at the hands of a tiny political elite in order to pave the way for the rise of maximum leaders.

He won the respect of his community as organiser of the 7-a-side football league that was played in the hole at the top of Erica Street.

He gave up his full -time job in Customs and devoted more and more of his time making his contribution to the forward march of our people for a better quality of life.

He embraced the mantra of DARE TO STRUGGLE DARE TO WIN and feared no one. He was able to organise what was then the DEWD workers (now URP) to stand and fight for equal pay for equal work and permanent jobs. It was this battle that forced the Gov’t to agree to create more work gangs and ultimately more jobs for the people of Laventille. But that was not all.

This struggle would lead him and these workers to turn to NUGFW for Union representation. It was then that Jimmy joined with others in that union like Ralph Haynes and Lloyd Anderson in a long lasting struggle to democratise the Union.

In that era (mid 1980s), the Union’s leadership was elected by the delegate system and not along the lines of one member, one vote. Jimmy’s contribution was not in vain.

I distinctly recall when Jimmy led the famous DEWD workers march into POS to save the jobs of thousands of DEWD workers earmarked for retrenchment by the then NAR Gov’t. This was the beginning of things to come and would be forever in my memory.

It was in 1989 that the trade unions came together and confronted the NAR Gov’t with their IMF punitive measures. The National COSSABO and the National General Councils of the 2 trade union Federations decided to stage a 1day national strike called the Day of Resistance on 6th March 1989. THAT WAS THE DAY WHEN ALL OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO WOULD STAY AT HOME.

Those of us who have fond memories of Jimmy would always remember that pickup van he would drive. It was this van that Jimmy would use all hours of the day and night to make broadcasts for the Day of Resistance.

At that time I was the secretary of the organising committee that was set up by both labour federations and non-aligned unions to mobilise and prepare for this nationwide general strike.

Let it be recorded that Jimmy, like many others, worked morning noon and night mobilising with his van for the strike; handing out flyers, sticking up posters making announcements, holding spot meetings. He indeed made his contribution to the successful nationwide strike. THANK YOU JIMMY. THANK YOU. We stood up, we fought back and we won. Yes, he was an outstanding foot soldier. Man, if we only had 10 more Jimmy Singh now, the 1% would have been on the retreat all now so.

Jimmy was also President of the National General Workers Union, which together with others like Paul Eugene, they had formed to provide representation to unorganised workers when they were dismissed by their employers.

Never one day could it be said that he took a bribe or sold out workers. I must record the fact that he and I had our political differences like everything and everyone else. After all, who doesn’t? But let me call a spade a spade. No one can ever question Jimmy’s love for his Laventille community, the workers he served and the people of Trinidad and Tobago. None can challenge or question the contribution and personal sacrifices that Jimmy has made in the name of a better society for us all.

Jimmy, I know that you are on your way to meet our the legendaries- Butler, Weekes, Joe Young, Ralph Haynes and all the others. You have earned your seat at the Great Table. Rest assured that one day we will all see a truly independent and democratic society free from the curse of injustice, poverty, hunger, under-development and the exploitation of man by man.
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