A History of Organized Labor in the English-Speaking West Indies

A History of Organized Labor in the English-Speaking West Indies

A History of Organized Labor in the English-Speaking West Indies

A History of Organized Labor in the English-Speaking West Indies

Excerpt

This is the fourth in a series of histories of the organized labor movement in Latin America and the Caribbean. It covers the countries of what was once the British West Indies, where during the twentieth century the organized workers played a major role in the evolution of most of the territories into independent states as well as in changing fundamentally for the better the living and working conditions of the great mass of the people.

Although the title of the work is “A History of Organized Labor in the English-Speaking West Indies,” it also includes chapters on the Bahamas and Bermuda, although those territories are located geographically in the Atlantic Ocean rather than in the Caribbean. As I explain in the text, there are good reasons for this. The two Atlantic territories have had the same historical experience as those of the former British West Indies, of being British colonies for an extended period of time, of being dominated during most of the colonial period by a small white minority of European descent, and of having the labor movement arise as an integral part of the evolution toward self-government and independence (with a few exceptions), with the white minority dominance of the economy, society, and polity being superseded by rule of those chosen by the overwhelming majority of people of African descent.

The labor movements of both the Bahamas and Bermuda have themselves recognized their kinship with their counterparts in the West Indies. They have been part of the Caribbean Division of ORIT (The Interamericana Regional Organization of Workers) and its successor, the Caribbean Congress of Labor.

Several of the present-day English-speaking territories that are the subject of this book became secure under British rule . . .

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