1960s >> 1965 >> no-736-december-1965

From Trinidad

Things in Trinidad are warming up. Elections are next year and so far we have four political parties in the fray. The P.N.M. (Peoples National Movement) under the leadership of Dr. Eric Williams, is still the hot favourite to continue, while the D.L.P. (Democratic Labour Party) is losing ground. Although still officially the Opposition, it is led by London-based Dr. Capildeo. A comparatively new party, the Liberals, led by Mr. Farquhar, is gaining what the D.L.P. is losing, and the last-formed party, the
Farmers and Workers Party, is led by Mr. C. L. R. James.


Earlier this year the Government passed a Bill aimed at curbing strikes. The Bill is known as the Industrial Stabilisation Act (I.S.A). The Prime Minister announced there were too many strikes in the country, which interfered with the economy and frightened away foreign or would-be investors, so therefore the Bill is justified. This Act has curtailed the functions of the Trade Unions, as all disputes must go to the Industrial Court for its ruling. There is no appeal against judgment and since all those taking part in strike action in any way can be jailed for long periods, five Trade Unions have got their tails between their legs. As a result the various Unions are divided on the issue, some for the Act, others against it. The trick of the capitalists to divide the working class is self-evident. On the scene at this time is Mr. C. L. R. James, who contends that the I.S.A. is a violation not only of the Constitution, but of the rights of the workers, who are reduced to nothing but slaves. He is joined by Mr. G. Weekes, President-General of the powerful oil workers’ Union, and slowly other Union leaders are following. The Unions have now obtained the services of Mr. Platt-Mills, Q.C., to challenge the validity of the I.S.A. in the light of the Constitution.


To a Socialist one thing is clear. Whatever the outcome—the workers will have nothing to gain.