The Grenada Revolution Online

Bishop Speech - In the Spirit of Butler
Unionise! Mobilise! Educate! Democratise!
[18 November 1981]

Address for the Opening of the Third Trade Union Conference, the Dome, St. George’s

Comrades, if we were to study the history of this country, Grenada, we would find that the central theme that has characterised the lives of our people over the centuries has been resistance.

Our people have struggled at many times and in many ways.

From the stubborn refusal of the Grenadian Caribs to accept any colonial stranglehold over their island through the consistent pattern of slave revolts which culminated in the mass upsurge led by Julien Fedon in 1795 which for two [2] years brought Grenada a determined, militant independence, through the years of anti–colonial agitation and the eloquent leadership of T.A. Marryshow, through the two great popular uprisings of 1951 and 1973-4 to the climax of our struggle in the March 13th Revolution of 1979 - Grenadians have always resisted domination, injustice and exploitation.

Our great Caribbean poet, Edward Kamau Brathwaite, himself a Barbadian, has likened this spirit of permanent struggle to the dramatic and sublime peaks which tower along the spine of our island.

And it is into this tradition of resistance that we must place the growth and development of our trade union movement.

We have produced here in Grenada perhaps the greatest, the most brilliant and audacious of pioneer Caribbean trade unionists - I am referring, of course, to Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler, that huge, monumental igniter of the spirit of the Caribbean masses, who, born in Grenada, moved to Trinidad to accomplish his great deeds of leadership of the burgeoning Caribbean working class.

His volcanic influence there sent our entire region throbbing with a new will and resistance which soon broke out through all our islands.

But let it also be said that we produced Eric Mathew Gairy, perhaps the most degenerate and decadent manipulator and corrupter of the trade union movement that our islands have ever spawned.

Butler vs. Gairy: to say them with the same breath makes one choke!

But we have seen both their traditions and disciples alive in our Caribbean.

Our duty now is to strive to emulate the one and make certain that the other will never be recreated!

Certainly, we must also remember how Butler was sought, hunted and hounded by British colonialism and the employing class that saw him as their greatest menace, how they imprisoned him, interned him but could never smother or even dim his enormous determination and lustre!

Ann certainly we must also remember how his opposite lied, bribed, bludgeoned and murdered in this path to power, and how the consequences of that misrule strewed hurricane wreckage through our nation and working people that he claimed to represent, so much so that nearly three [3] years after the Revolution that ended his sordidness forever in our country, we are still cleaning up the devastation he caused to our national life and economy.

So we have known only too well this type of bogus trade unionism in Grenada, and we have lived through the ghastly damage it caused to our country and people.

And we also know how much our real, genuine, patriotic trade unionists fought against such deformity when its political arm came into power with the Gairy neo–colonial dictatorship, which lasted for over two [2] decades here in Grenada.

For right through thee years of struggle, our militant, selfless trade unionists fought gallantly against Gairy’s terror, squandermania and neglect of the rights of workers, even though he could also count through that period, upon certain sections of the trade union leadership to sell out the masses at crucial points of their struggle, as he had done himself in 1951, and as the conciliators did again in April 1974.

TRADE UNIONISM AGAINST DICTATORSHIP

Gairy’s neo–colonial dictatorship introduced several draconian laws that were clearly anti–worker and were aimed at muzzling and straitjacketing any threatening action from our trade unionists.

The 1974 Public Order (Amendment) Act prohibited trade unions, as well as other organisations, from using public address systems.

The next year [1975] he passed the Newspaper (Amendment) Act which, without just cause, effectively forbade trade unionists and other workers’ organisations form publishing their own newspapers.

Then the Essential Services Act of 1978 was passed particularly against the prospect of members of the technical and Allied Workers’ Union [TAWU] taking direct industrial action.

Significantly, the leadership of this union, notoriously inactive, did nothing to challenge the passage of a law which was designed to render them impotent.

This was hardly surprising when we understand that the leadership of this union was in the hands of the same man who acted as the “Research and Education Officer” of the American Institute of Free Labour Development [AIFLD] in the Eastern Caribbean.

But other unions and the political leadership of the NJM fought on behalf of their brothers and sisters in this union, comrades, and when Gairy tried to extend the law to include the dockworkers - who proved to be the most militant section of the urban working class under the dictatorship - they never allowed the amendment to be implemented.

For it was a common feature of those years that the workers themselves would take industrial action in the absence of or in defiance of their conciliatory leadership.

This was perhaps best seen in the 1973-4 period when the workers had to force the hand of their leaders to strike, and simultaneously resist the propaganda and persuasion techniques of the AFL-CIO.

Comrades, it is important to note that all this activity and struggle within our trade union movement was taking place against a backdrop of massive repression that was building up in our country, in all aspects and spheres of the people’s lives.

The dictator was making a systematic and comprehensive attack on all the rights and freedoms that our people had campaigned for and won over the years of British Colonialism.

The freedom to express ourselves, the freedom of assembly - in fact the freedom to live any sort of decent life, all this was being ripped form us.

The elections that were organised were rigged and farcical, a mockery of the democracy that our people truly aspired to reach.

When we moved to protest or organise against the decay of life we saw around us, we were hounded by paid bandits who battered, bruised and murdered some of our most valued and courageous comrades.

Life itself was being torn away from us, piece by piece, in the growing fear and reality of repression.

Our youth saw desolation around them in a hopeless search for jobs.

Our women faced sexual abuse and exploitation in the daily struggle to keep their dignity.

A youth like Jeremiah Richardson was shot, point blank, in the streets of Grenville because he sought to question a policeman’s abuse.

A boy, Harry Andrews, was killed because he climbed over a wall in a calypso tent.

Harold Strachan, Alister Strachan, Rupert Bishop all heroically sought to challenge this ebbing away of freedom and the right to live, and they all fell before the horrendous rule of terror and corruption which characterised our country during those years.

Our people lived in an ethos of death and tyranny, when honest people disappeared mysteriously, the fate of Inspector Bishop of the Carriacou Police, or the four youths tending goats in Frigate Island.

Comrades, to be an active, combative and militant trade unionist during that portion of our history was to court his danger and violence.

Militancy meant a challenge to death and an assertion of everything that was that was hopeful and positive and which could reconstruct life and happiness for our people.

THE WORKERS FOUGHT BACK

But, as the dictatorship tries to tighten its grip on the lives of the Grenadian people, more and more democratic and progressive fighters were elected to the leadership of our trade unions.

By 1978, the Executive of the Commercial and Industrial Workers Union [CIWU] was demonstrating this and Gairy was answering by trying to crush the union.

Resolutions were being passed by the Executive against Gairy’s ties with the butchers of Chile and the visit of Pinochet’s torture ship, The Esmeralda, to our shores.

The dictator realised he was not dealing with the previous pattern of pliable and opportunistic leadership.

The only price of these new comrades was freedom!

So he went directly to the employees, trying to persuade and bribe them to compel their workers to join his union [GMMWU], even though these employers had already signed agreements with the Commercial and Industrial Workers’ Union [CIWU].

He also attempted to force CIWU members directly to change unions, but because of the respect they had for the consistent and principled hard work and positions of the new CIWU leadership, they were not moved.

Over the years our Caribbean trade union movement has constantly been the target of that most unscrupulous arm of imperialism: the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA].

We had had rare instances of our trade union leaders consciously selling out to their silky bribes and offerings, but more usually the CIA, with its sophistication and enormous financial resources, has succeeded in manipulating and infesting unwitting trade unionists who may well have been continuing with their work with the best of intentions.

In doing this, the CIA has sometimes directly infiltrated and controlled some sections of our movement, and thus force the leadership of some of our unions to actually take anti–worker positions.

This has happened, we know, in Grenada, and more and more of our workers are becoming conscious of this danger to their hopes.

We saw how the CIA actually succeeded in turning back the progress of the organised workers’ movement in Chile, by both open and covert activity, and we in the Caribbean must be particularly vigilant in recognising their position and subversion of the workers’ cause, for imperialism will never rest in its resolution to crush the onward march of the progress and emancipation of our struggling people.

For on the day that the Revolution triumphed, March 13th 1979, trade unionists from all over the country showed direct support for and involvement in the revolutionary events.

The Telephone Company workers, for example, were contacting and radioing our security forces to tell them of the whereabouts of Gairy’s ministers, and trade unionists and workers generally, all over the country, left their workplaces to take up arms to end forever the power of oppression that had constantly tries to thwart the free aspirations and genuine and constructive organisation of our Grenadian workers.

Since our Revolution, most of the old, corrupt union leadership has been thrown into the dustbin of history, for because of their growing consciousness, our workers can now contrast and see who is brining benefits to them and who is not, who is desperately trying to maintain the old pattern of dictatorship and who is in the forefront of the struggle to bring more democracy into our trade unions.

What we are seeing more and more in Grenada is that the objectives of the Revolution and the objectives of the trade union movement in our country are one and the same.

Thus, any antagonisms between them are gradually lessening and disappearing, for the Revolution has set free the opportunities for the trade union movement to accomplish its tasks of building the emancipation, security and prosperity of the working people, the identical will of the Revolution itself.

MEMBERSHIP AND DEMOCRACY

Let us consider the massive rise in membership, since the Revolution, of the most militant and democratic unions.

On March 13th 1979, the Bank and General Workers’ Union [BGWU] had some hundred members. It now has about 3,000.

It has spread out from its birthplace at Barclays Bank to the banana boxing plants, the nutmeg pools, the restaurants and hotels, the factories and workshops.

Its tradition of honest and consistent struggle on behalf of its members has made it the largest union in the country.

The Commercial and Industrial Worker’s Union [CIWU] has had over 50% increase in membership, the Technical and Allied Workers’ Union [TAWU] a 60% increase and the Agricultural and General Worker’s Union [AGWU] has risen from scratch to its present level of 2,300 members.

We had a huge, symbolic demonstration of our increased trade union membership and power in this year’s May Day celebrations.

It was the biggest every May Day turn out in the history of Grenada, and the seemingly endless procession of organised workers worked around the steep streets of our capital.

Along with this sudden explosion in the membership of unions is the emphasis the new leadership is putting on their democratisation.

This is very much allied to the general thrust in democracy, right through our society since the Revolution, in all structures of mass organisations, community groups and the other organs of our people’s power.

As we have seen, before the Revolution there was a tradition of some unions of few or no General Meetings.

Following the Revolution, we have seen a massive new interest in trade unionism as Grenadians saw new hope and strength in co–operative and collective democratic solutions to their problems.

At the first General Meeting of the Commercial and Industrial Workers’ Union after the Revolution in July 1979, there was over 100% increase in the attendance.

Two hundred and ninety [290] members came and voted 246 to 44 in favour of a militant, democratic leadership as against the previous conciliatory and conservative type, even though the latter had organised and conducted the elections.

What is happening now in our country, is that everybody is becoming affected by the dialectic of democratic participation that is sweeping through our villages and workplaces.

Involvement in our organisation or meeting leads directly to involvement in another.

A worker who attends a Workers’ Parish Council hears something which he wants to bring to his trade union. So he goes to the meeting of his union, although he may not have attended one for years.

And when he finds, quite surprisingly, that his union is taking a vibrant, democratic direction, he involves himself in one of its new committees or structures for fund raising, sports or planning for educational seminars.

His confidence is raised through all this activity and the speaking and organising that goes along with hit, and his appetite is whetted to join one of the mass organisations - the local Party Support Group, the Militia, House Repair Programme, or for the sisters, the National Women’s Organisation.

Each organisation feed strength, power and confidence into the next, and all of them, including the trade union, grow in real potency and democratic advancement.

And now we see Worker’s Parish Councils splitting into Zonal Councils in a new sprouting of decentralised democracy right through our nation, a reflection of a similar tendency that is happening within our progressive trade unions.

NEW LEGISLATION

The People’s Revolutionary Government has been swift to take legislative action in favour of the trade unions.

All Gairy’s anti–worker laws were repealed and two months after the Revolution, in May 1979, People’s Law Number 29, the Trade Union Recognition Law, was passed.

For the first time in Grenada’s history, our workers had the opportunity to join the union of their choice, and the employer was compelled to recognise the trade union, once 51% of his workforce were financial members.

Under this Law, the Ministry of Labour has to respond within seven [7] days of the union’s application for recognition, and then call a poll of workers.

If the majority is shown to be members, then the union must be certified as the bargaining agent for the workers.

For, apart from Barclays, before the Revolution there were other grotesque examples of non–recognition of trade unions.

The workers at the Red Spot Soft Drink Factory had a 100% financial membership of the Commercial and Industrial Workers’ Union in 1978, but the company still refused recognition, and it took the workers at Bata some 17 years of struggle before they finally won recognition.

So this law has changed all those old abuses and given the workers real and genuine security in making their trade unions effective bargaining agents on behalf of their workers.

For the sister trade unionists, the 1980 Maternity Leave Law has made an enormous difference to their working and personal lives.

Every working woman now has the right to two months’ paid maternity leave over the period of the birth of any child.

And the trade unions were involved, together with the mass organisations, particularly the National Women’s Organisation, and the churches, in the widespread consultation conducted all over the nation before the bill was finally passed.

The Equal Pay for Equal Work Decree in the state sector has also had a profound effect in improving the wages of the sisters and levelling them up with those of their brother workers throughout Grenada - as well as increasing their general confidence to organise and struggle side by side with their brothers.

For now both men and women are sharing equally in the improvement in wages and conditions being brought about since the Revolution.

The old, appalling working conditions and lack of facilities like no drinking water or workers’ amenities in workplaces, compulsory overtime with out pay and no job security are now doomed.

The recent successful strike of agricultural workers in the St. Andrew’s Parish, waged by members of the Agricultural and General Workers’ Union [AGWU], is proof of this.

The comrades achieved their demands of holiday and sick leave pay under the new democratic leadership of their new union.

At this moment arising from a decision of the St. George’s Workers’ Parish Council, and based on requests from trade unions, the Ministry of Legal Affairs has prepared two pieces of legislation - a Rent Control Law to ease the burden of high rent costs for our people and a new Workmen’s Compensation Act, both of which will be circulated to our unions for their comments before enactment.

NEW ATTITUDES

Of course, you would know how closely higher productivity and trade union organisation are connected.

More than two decades of Gairyism produced in our workers many negative attitudes.

The new trade unionism in our country is now helping to transform such attitudes by helping to apply new incentives.

Before the Revolution our agricultural estates brought in absurdly low returns.

They were making only a quarter of a million dollars, even though their yearly expenditure was nearly three million.

Now, from being a national liability, they have become profitable, and the workers themselves have shared in that success, taking one–third of the profits made.

This new attitude has grown through the spirit of emulation that the workers have adopted as a result of those seminars. The Age of Cynicism is gone in Grenada.

Workers in a revolutionary country like ours, who are under a progressive and democratic leadership in their trade unions, do not see trade unionism solely in a narrow, economistic sense.

They do not see their responsibilities stopping only at these fundamental tasks of improving their members’ wages and working conditions.

They see themselves deeply involved in all aspects of the social and political life of their country, their region and their world.

Our unionised workers have consistently shown solidarity with all other struggling workers of the world.

They see this as an internationalist duty to all trade unionists organising for their rights and fighting for social and political justice, be they in Chile, El Salvador, Southern Africa, the Middle East or any part of the world where the producers of wealth are exploited and oppressed.

They see their responsibility, likewise, with other trade unionists of the Third World in pressing for the New International Economic Order that will create more favourable terms of trade between rich and poor nations and transfer wealth and technology for the benefit of the masses in countries such as ours.

THE NEED FOR TRADE UNION UNITY IN THE CARIBBEAN

Comrades, it is clear that the growing economic crisis of world capitalism is having a dynamic effect in the Caribbean.

Throughout our region, we see the employing class united in its attack upon trade unionism.

There have been newspaper advertisements in Barbados calling upon workers there to abandon their trade unions.

There have been incidents of multi–national companies in St. Vincent forcing workers to sign documents, pledging that they will leave their trade unions.

Clearly, the employers are trying to de-unionise their workforces to make them more pliable and exploitable, so we, throughout the Caribbean, must go beyond all our political and ideological differences and forge the essential unity of our regional trade union movement to combat this reactionary offensive by the employers.

This is why we have to work towards the total unionisation of our workers and the maximum democratisation of our unions, to ensure that they are vigilant and active in the struggles against the employers, and to guarantee that the negativism and passivity that arise from undemocratic trade union structures are forever finished in our region.

We consider that in Grenada we have a critical role to stimulate and achieve this unity because our Revolution has emancipated our trade union movement to fully serve the country and help to build it, along with our party, the mass organisations and other democratic community structures.

For we are benefitting, not only from increased wages and better working conditions, unlocked freedoms and an explosion of democracy, but also from a massively increased social wage which makes more and more sure and profound the security of our working people, one of the prime objectives of trade unionism.

Free medical treatment, primary health care, an eye clinic, free milk distribution, more doctors and dentists than we have ever had before, new low cost housing and house repair schemes, free secondary education, de facto free middle level technical and university training for all our untrained primary school teachers, a Centre for Popular Education [CPE], cheaper basic food through our Marketing and National Import Board [MNIB], loans for productive purposes through our National Commercial Bank [NCB], a vastly improved water supply system, cheaper electricity rates and less tax to pay for the poorest workers, a new International Airport, a national Public Bus Service on the way - all this has been achieved in the last 30 months.

Such concrete benefits are what true trade unionists have always struggled for, and we see our trade unionists too taking a greater and greater part in this huge process of national reconstruction.

For the first time in our history, and as far as we know, this step in unique in the CARICOM section of our region, our trade unions have been involved in the exercise of framing the national budget.

The Public Workers’ Union [PWU], the Grenada Union of Teachers [GUT], and the Technical and Allied Workers’ Union [TAWU] were all involved in this process last year, and this year and in the coming years more of our unions will be involved.

Proposals for the 1982 Budget will be circularised by the Ministry of Finance in a booklet, and 50,000 of these are being printed, to be given, among others, to the workers at their workplaces for them to study and add their comments and suggestions.

This, of course, is an extension of the already existing policy of our government of opening all our books to our workers during wage negotiations with trade unions, giving them access to all accounts and files, so that they can see for themselves what the national budget can effort to give them, and so they can make their own assessment of what could be a realistic and equitable wage demand.

This is the absolute antithesis of Gairyism, a total transformation.

This process will underline yet again that the trade union movement must be involved in all aspects of national development.

This means planning, production, management, distribution of foods, working in the literacy campaign through the Centre for Popular Education, in the House Repair Programme, the School Repair Programme, the community work and the creation of democracy in all our popular and democratic programmes by ensure that the benefits of the Revolution reach not only its own members, but all the people of Grenada.

Finally and crucially, there is the question of national defence, particularly at this juncture when we are facing so many threats from a belligerent and vulgar imperialism.

Our trade unions and their members are becoming more and more involved in our People’s Revolutionary Militia [PRM], and the Trades Union Council [TUC] itself, in response to the US “Amber and the Amberines” provocations and manoeuvres in Vieques Island in August, issued a call for all trade unionists to join the militia and be prepared to defend the homeland form imperialist military attack.

CALL TO THE DELEGATES

So comrades, what is the way forward? What are the challenges ahead of us and how must we respond?

We would not want to leave this conference without having clear ideas and proposals in our heads to secure greater bonds and solidarity between us.

What concrete steps can we make as a result of our discussions?

For a start, we must exchange information, insights and experiences to make more profound the trust between us, and more unified the causes and strength that bind us.

And let us pledge that in the spirit of trade union democracy, we hold more regular assemblies and meetings such as this one to combine in a more coherent and purposeful way, to consolidate our power and unity, and to co–ordinate our strategies to beat back the offensive against us.

Our enemies are intensifying their unity, as has been seen in the recent general inter–Caribbean meetings of Chambers of Commerce, and even more pointedly, in the meeting of various army and police chiefs, with external representatives also involved.

The violence of this offensive has also been made clear in the imperialist–dominated campaign of lies, slander and disinformation - the deliberate manipulation of half truths and fabrications - which has been principally directed at the revolutionary countries in our region.

Cuba, Nicaragua and Grenada, and against the progressive movement of workers generally throughout the Caribbean.

This campaign intensified to a particularly blatant level in May this year [1981], when the United States International Communications Agency (USICA), the propaganda arm of the US State Department, organised a conference in Washington, to which were invited the editors of all the major English–language Caribbean newspapers.

The editors were counselled and lectured to by reactionary congressmen, and slick American journalists taught them techniques of propaganda destabilisation, with “How to Deal with Grenada” as an unlisted item on the agenda.

Within two weeks of this conference, we witnessed, in the region, signs of a co–ordinated approach by all of these newspapers, in their propaganda attacks against the Grenada Revolution.

Articles and editorials were swapped and reprinted, and this process descended to the its most vulgar depths with the appearance in five [5] regional newspapers - the Jamaica Gleaner, the Barbados Sunday Sun, the Barbados Advocate, the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express - of identical front page editorials, calling upon the governments, peoples and workers of the region to isolate Grenada and expel us form all regional groupings and organisations.

The magnates and warlords of the Caribbean media are about to start yet another campaign against Grenada.

While the Jamaican Daily Gleaner’s Hector Wynter travels to Trinidad to plan strikes with his fellow Trinidad Guardian and Express blood–suckers, his compatriot and twin brother in lies and hypocrisy, Ken Gordon, is in Jamaica shamelessly announcing yet another plan of orchestrated propaganda destabilisation against our Revolution.

It seems that these clowns do not yet understand that the game is up, that they have been fully exposed before the Caribbean people and before their own workers, who so valiantly stood up to them in September, and condemned them for their dishonesty and vulgarity, after their front page fiasco.

It seems like these Judases, who are willing to trade the journalistic integrity of their own workers and the limited value of their own depraved souls for a few dollars more, are in need of yet another slap on their bottoms from the workers of the Caribbean.

Let them continue to attack.

The more they do so, the more they help the cause of the working people.

For they are the best possible proof of the decadence, corruption and nasty stench of unmitigated, free enterprise capitalism, and its twin sister of rotting, hypocritical, saltfish journalism.

Comrades, this propaganda campaign continues unabated until this very day.

We would, therefore, like to call upon all the delegates here, representing as they do the most active and conscious leaders of the working class movement in our region, to condemn this monopoly control of the Caribbean media by unprincipled press magnates in league with imperialism, and support the struggle of media workers all over the world for a New International Information Order [NWICO], the creation of which will be of particular significance to al workers in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Comrades, very importantly, we must express that all the workers of our region must have a clear understanding as to why peace is in their interest and why war is such a high priority on the agenda of Reagan and the ruling circles in the USA.

At present, the world capitalist system is in the midst of a serious crisis.

Runaway inflation, compounded by ever–rising unemployment has meant that for millions of workers in the industrialised capitalist economies, the cost of living keeps going up, seemingly beyond control, while job security is weakened.

Almost as daily routine, factory after factory is closed down, business after business declares bankruptcy, resulting in hundreds of thousands of workers losing their jobs.

Those workers fortunate to retain jobs, find that their wages remain stagnant, their unions attacked and undermined by the monopolists, their rights abused and their hard–won gains eroded.

And as the international capitalist crisis intensifies, it generates increased imperialist aggression, spearheaded by the most reactionary circles of imperialism’s military–industrial complexes who feel that the solution to this crisis in the build–up of arms, the provocation of wars and the creation of tension spots around the world, the Caribbean region being no exception.

The struggle carried on by the world’s workers for peace is strongly linked with the effects of the crisis of capitalism on their living standards.

Thus, one can say that the economic and social gains won through such struggle are an expression of the change in the balance of forces against the roots of all wars: monopoly capitalism and imperialism.

Ignoring the new realities brought about by this change in the world’s balance of forces, however, the military and conservative circles of imperialism are trying to return the world to the cold war period and intensification of the arms race with the planned deployment of many more nuclear warheads in Western European countries, with mad talk of limited nuclear war, and right here in our region with stepped–up military manoeuvres and exercises and preparations for military invasion of Cuba, Nicaragua and Grenada, along with massive intervention in El Salvador.

The present level of military efforts puts on the shoulders of Caribbean workers and workers all over the world a very heavy burden of sacrifice exposing the very existence of humanity to the risk of a catastrophic disaster.

High military expenditures are damaging to economic stability, slow down the rate of development and make unemployment more acute.

The contemporary capitalist crisis and the arms race are directly connected with each other.

In many capitalist countries, arms contracts provide the motive force for the industries connected with arms manufacture.

But workers must not be intimidated or resort to pessimism in the face of this bleak scenario.

Hope still exists and it resides in the struggle of all peace–loving forces for disarmament and world peace, which will make it possible for science and technology to be put fully to work for the material and spiritual enhancement of humankind.

The working class of the world constitutes the principal force of peace.

Because of its role in the crucial sphere of social life and production, the working class is also the principal force of social progress.

Thus, there is a direct connection between the historical role of the working class and the struggle for peace and disarmament.

The Caribbean trade union movement cannot fulfill its mission of emancipating the working people of the region in a situation where imperialism is attempting to make the Caribbean into a theatre of war.

Genuine social and economic progress can only be achieved in an atmosphere of peaceful co–existence, co–operation, goodwill, mutual respect and understanding among the region’s peoples.

It is, therefore, an urgent imperative that the Caribbean trade union movement strongly condemns all efforts by imperialism to bring unnecessary tension to our region and in equally strong terms supports the call for the Caribbean to be declared a Zone of Peace.

Caribbean and Latin American workers employed by capitalist companies who do not own the means of production because they are an exploited class, have no stake in war or in the profits deriving from the manufacture of weapons, as in the case with the transnational corporations.

Peace is the workers’ ideal. Historical experience shows that in the imperialist wars it is the working people influenced by the ideological hegemony of imperialism who are the victims, who she their blood and sacrifice their lives.

But it is, also, the working people who have always fought against wars of aggression, and who now find themselves in a common front in the struggle for peace.

In fighting against the monopolies, against the transnationals and the military–industrial complex, the working people of the Caribbean and Latin America carry out a direct offensive against the roots of war.

In this context, the workers and their trade union organisations have a fundamental role to play.

In defiance of the imperialist merchants of death,  the Caribbean and Latin American trade union movement must make a clear and consistent response to Washington’s aggression in this region by the unity and common action of all the trade union forces.

In these times, there is an urgent need, comrades, for unity and co–ordinated action, for co–operation and direct alliance between the region’s democratic trade unions, some with different ideological tendencies, but all with the same class interests and with similar economic and social aspirations.

Warmongering in our region can only be stopped by a united and decisive workers’ struggle for peace and disarmament.

Workers of our region can be heartened and even inspired by the forthright resistance demonstrated by millions of workers who have taken to the streets of European capitals in recent week to say a loud “no” to the war policies of the Reagan Administration.

So our message today, comrades, to all our workers in our island and throughout the Caribbean, is in the spirit of Butler, Unionise! Mobilise! Educate! Democratise!

Dynamise the trade union movement throughout our region! Let the spirit of Butler fire and inspire us!

Let us seek to emulate his cause and dedication to the most sacred commitment of all - the emancipation and freedom of our working people.

We in Grenada pledge to continue to put our trade union movement at the centre of the process in our country to link all our workers in an organised relationship with democratic structures and practices and so pump with ever–increasing vigour, the vibrant blood that runs through all the organs of our Revolution.

Long live the working class of Grenada, the Caribbean and the World!

Long live the unity and solidarity of the working people of the World!

Long live the spirit of Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler!

Forward ever, backward never!


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