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35 Mark Essay Trade Unions

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35 Mark Essay

Trade Unions

What factors have contributed to the development of trade unions in the Commonwealth Caribbean and to what extent are they in crisis? Critically discuss with reference to the first half of the 20th century and to the impact of economic development policies, neo-liberalism and globalization.

Trade unions were a crucial part of the labor movements in the 1930’s as well as the 20th century. According to Ralph Gonsolves, trade unions can be described as “continuous associations made up primarily of wage earners who use their collective labor power mainly to improve their wages and working conditions”. This essay will state the factors that help form/ build trade unions in the Caribbean as well as the extent to which they are in a crisis and on a decline. It will also make mention of its impact on economic development policies, neo-liberalism and globalization.

Events of the 1930’s, that is the rise in labor unrest and labor activity within the Commonwealth Caribbean was one of the most important and most vital parts of the development of trade unions. In these times, factors such as the working-class population in the early times of capitalist development in the region as well as political opposition to organizations similar, the planter-merchant oligarchy, the local state and imperial state were all reflected in the restrictive labor laws and really did not want the development of a functioning labor movement which could bring about trade unions. However, it was not until the 20th century that some relaxation allowed for trade unions to be established. The 1930’s therefore is a huge part in the development of trade unions.  Because of the labor militancy of that time, it provided the base for organized pressure to be placed upon the colonial administration for political change which was needed for the democratization process in the Caribbean. After the 1930’s, trade unions were a permanent feature in the industrial and political environment of the region, they therefore made an issue of political incorporation of labor a major deal to consider for competing political groups in the Commonwealth Caribbean. From that starting point, trade unions were closely tied to the political parties and the more important and successful political parties were born from them or those parties established trade unions, this was crucial for political success in national elections as it came across to the people if the trade union in which I am apart of is standing behind this party, then we all must be on the same team and on the same page. For example, in Barbados, the Barbados Progressive League (BPL), formed in October 1938 after a year of riots in 1937, became the parent of both political parties that exist today, the Barbados Labor Party (BLP) and the Democratic Labor Party (DLP). It also is the parent of the Barbados Worker’s Union (BWU), the most powerful labor union to date.



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