Colour Prejudice in Britain: A Study of West Indian Workers in Liverpool, 1941-1951

By Anthony H. Richmond | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
RELATIONSHIPS AT WORK

1. RELATIONS WITH EMPLOYERS AND MANAGEMENTS

T HE relations between the West Indian technicians and trainees and the managements of the firms employing them appear to have varied a very great deal from factory to factory; the nature of the relationships established depended largely upon thepersonal qualities of the individuals sent to that particular firm, butit also depended upon the initial attitudes and policy of the managements concerned. Where there had been hesitation about taking coloured workers there was sometimes underlying suspicion and hostilityor a tendency to be over critical and intolerant of the inevitable difficulties occurring in the early period of adjustment and habituation.

In other cases the reverse attitude and policy was adopted by the management, which often had equally unsatisfactory results. Sometimes, the management adopted an excessively tolerant attitude and tended to deal too leniently with offenders: then naturally some West Indians took advantage of the situation. Furthermore, any appearance of indulgence or relaxation of discipline on the part of the managements towards the Colonials in an attempt to show sympathy for their particular difficulties tended to arouse the resentment of white workers. In some cases the latter already felt that the West Indians were in a favoured position because of their special backing from the Ministry of Labour and the Colonial Office.

Despite these difficulties many employers did succeed in integrating the coloured workers into the normal working of the firm. After short periods of initial adjustment the men settled down to work to the entire satisfaction of most of the firms concerned. In some cases West Indians were promoted to the position of chargehand. Occasionally, such good relationships were disturbed by a change in the personnel of the management, where the newcomer was not familiar with the West Indian

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