August 7, 2012
Union officials now more motivated to advance trade unions

After attending the 75th Anniversary International Conference of delegates of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) in Trinidad, held in July, members of the National Workers Movement here say they are now more motivated to continue their quest to advance trade unions and labour movements.{{more}}

A three-member delegation, comprising Noel Jackson, General Secretary of the National Workers Movement (NWM); Renwick Rose, retired Co-ordinator of WINFA and Jean Farrell, Assistant Secretary of the SVG Teachers Union, attended the conference, July 25 to 28.

At a media briefing on July 31, at the NWM office in Paul’s Avenue, Kingstown, Jackson explained that one of the main objectives of the conference was to take a position on workers’ continual struggle for social justice.

Jackson said the conference also reinforced the NMW’s belief that regional integration “must be people-centred and built from the people, from the bottom up.”

“We have got to position ourselves so that we are an integral part of this movement towards regional integration… You cannot be a nationalist solo. In fact, nationalism and regionalism are one and the same.

“There’s much work to be done, and this conference has put on the table an agenda that is going to be collectively pursued.

“There is strength in diversity,” the NWM General Secretary stated.

Rose, meanwhile, stated that the conference solidified the importance, not only of rebuilding trade unions, but also of rebuilding the labour movement throughout the Caribbean region.

He explained that it was through the struggles of the early labour movements that political parties were formed in the Caribbean.

“In relation to the trade unions, there was consensus that the labour movement is broader than the trade union and there is a sense in the Caribbean… that all the early political parties which struggled against colonialism came out of the trade union movements…

St Vincent and the Grenadines, however, was a different case, according to Rose.

“St Vincent is a curious case because St Vincent was the only case where a Labour party was formed, not from Labour. The Labour party in St Vincent was formed to fight labour.

“When I say labour, I mean the working class,” he informed.

Farrell described it as “educational, enlightening, awakening and also a conscious thrust in the seriousness of which trade unions are to be.”

The conference was attended by representatives from the Caribbean, the UK, Europe, South America and the USA. (AA)