Report of Meeting Between Management Committee and Advisory Committee of the People's Collective Farm
February 23, 1980
To: Members of Management Committee and Advisory Committee
On Wednesday 13th February, 1980, the River Antoine Agricultural Workers together with the people of La Poterie, went and took-over and made the private property of the De Gale family into the COMMON PROPERTY of the WORKERS and the WHOLE PEOPLE of La Poterie, thus freeing the workers from the shackles of feudal exploitation over a period of one hundred years, by the De Gale family.
The workers immediately changed the name River Antoine Estate to the PEOPLES REVOLUTIONARY FARM, selected a Management Committee on a temporary basis, an Advisory Committee and with a sense of pride and high spirit continued production on Monday 18th, February, 1980.
Since then, the Management and Advisory Committee went busily at work planning new ways and means aimed at improving the level of production on the Farm.
II. RECOMMENDATIONS OF ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The following are the decisions arrived at by the Advisory Committee at a meeting held on Sunday 17th, February, 1980 and recommended as Guidelines to Management Committee of the People's Collective Farm:
- That the People's collective Farm operate as a Model Farm, cultivating collectively under the direction of Agricultural experts from the Ministry of Agriculture, UNDP and in accordance with the directions of the Management Committee.
- That the People's Collective Farm be seen as a collective self-administered production enterprise where all means of production e.g., lands, run factory, machineries, working implements, buildings, livestock are the collective property of the workers who are members of the Farm.
- That the highest administrative body of the Collective Farm be the General Meeting of its members, who will have the power to elect its Management Committee and, an Inspection Body independent to the Management Committee and accountable only to members of the Collective Farm.
- That the Management Committee draft out rules for the Farm and a sort of constitution concerning Collective Farm life.
- That the Management Committee in accordance with direct instructions of the People's Collective Farm decide on all questions connected with Production, Administration and Management, for example the committee will have to draw up the Farm's Production Plan and define tasks connected with technical development, it will have to decide on what to produce, how much to produce, what method of production to be used, when and what to buy and sell.
- That the Management Committee choose the wage-system best suited to conditions peculiar to the Farm, decide on the introduction of that system as well as on the development of Social and Cultural Amenities in the Community of La Poterie.
- That the management committee decide on investments and the utilization of profits and determine the working conditions of the Farm.
III. RESULTS OF MEETING
This is the report of meeting held between Management and Advisory Committee of the People's Collective Farm on Wednesday, 20th February, 1980, 3.30 pm. At its office place. The following members were present:
Kenneth Budhlall (animator, deputing for Evan Bhola)
No reasons were given for their absent(sic).
An agenda highlighting four items were each dealt with.
- The appointment of an assistant manager, assistant overseer, a boucan overseer, two additional farm-drivers and two additional watchmen, assignment of specific tasks and allocation of salaries.
- Formation of a permanent Management Committee.
- Advisory Committee report on meeting with two of the nine shareholders of the once River Antoine Estate.
III (a) DISCUSSION
Item (i) on the Agenda
Bro. Lausman Charles making reference to the wealth of experience Bro. Ferrel Phillip attained during his forty-one years of loyal service to the De Gale family (began work in 1939) made suggestion as to the appointment of Bro. Ferrel Phillip for two position of Assistant Manager of the People's collective Farm. Bro. Patrick Bhola, Farm Overseer, proudly supporting Bro. Lausman Charles suggestion, told the Committee Members present, that in his twenty-two years of hard labour on the River Antoine Estate he knows Bro. Ferrel to be a very competent worker and has the ability and skills to repair from mill to steel in the rum factory. It was agreed by all members present that Pro. Ferrel's knowledge of administration and management can help immensely to raise the level of productivity of the Farm, consequently, a unanimous decision appointed Bro. Ferrel Phillip, Assistant Manager of the People's Collective Farm. However, no salary was arrived at, so it is expected that Bro. Ferrel's position will be on a voluntary basis, while he continues doing repairs and maintenance work on the Farm.
Looking into the future of the Collective Farm, Bro. Ferrel drew members attention to the fact that both Bro. Patrick Bhola and himself are daily growing in age, and that there will become a time when their bodies will not be able to undergo the pressure now withstanding. So it was suggested that in the interest of the future development of the Farm, Bro. Lausman Charles be appointed Assistant Overseer of the Collective Farm and that his specific duties be as follows:
- Working alongside Bro. Patrick Bhola, with the aim of learning all possible skills so that he can become as good a superintendent as Bro. Bhola.
- Be among the workers in the field during working house so that he can learn the practical from the workers.
- At all times whenever in the field he must take charge of a gang.
Bro. Cosnel Paul suggestion of $8.50 [amount is slightly unclear] as daily wage for the position of assistant overseer got the better of Bro. Stephen Augustine suggestion of eight dollars ($8.00) for a beginner. Bro. Bhola recommended that such position be allowed six days per week during normal crop season, but be extended to seven days per week when production is heavy.
Many observations were made in relation to the lost of important pieces of working-equipment house in the boucan and further lost of cocoa and copra eaten by animals while driving in the sun; with an attempt aimed at curing the lost of produce and items, Bro. Ferrel Phillip, suggested the appointment of a Boucan Overseer, but insisted that the position be made available to someone with a sense of responsibility, respect and commitment. The following specific duties were assigned to the position of Boucan Overseer:
- keeping an inventory of all items inside the boucan and accountable for every item;
- making available to the workers bags, cocoa baskets, wood-saw or whatever other working equipment necessary [unclear] mornings and ensuring their return on evenings.
- Maintain a clean boucan rum-office and yard at all times.
The Boucan Overseer is answerable to the general overseer, Bro. Patrick Bhola.
Sister Theresa Peters was appointed Boucan Overseer and Bro. Stephen Augustine suggestion of six dollars ($6.00) as daily wage pending a long discussion was finally agreed upon. Sister Theresa immediately requested a not book which she said will be necessary for keeping the records.
The appointment of two additional Drivers and Watchmen on Wednesday 13th February, was officially approved by the Management Committee. However, the question of Lazarus Moore was dealt with in detail, and, it was decided that Lazarus Moore be fully inform, by the Overseer of this duty as a Handy Man.
Item (ii) on the Agenda
Bro. Ferrel Phillip strongly proposed that the [unclear] [unclear] a Permanent Management Committee be divided up, since the present committee was only temporarily formed on February 13th, the day of the take-over. But, Bro. Lausman Charles in a frank and comradely manner opposed Bro. Ferrel's proposal, explaining the paramount importance of the present Management Committee, he told the members that whereas the Farm is undergoing transitionary process it will be very necessary to maintain the Management Committee formed on February 13th. This was supported by the overwhelming majority of the members present and it was agreed that the committee remain in operation for some time.
Item (iii) on the Agenda (Report on the Meeting with the De Gales)
The Advisory Committee decided that in all fairness of any issue it is important to deal fairly with all sides involve (sic), and dealing fairly with the De Gales to us meant hearing for ourselves from then, their position on the estate issue.
We also saw it necessary to go to the home of the De Gales on behalf of the workers, who cannot of themselves spare any time from their daily toil to visit this perpetual enemy - the De Gales.
From the first view of their home one could think on but one word "LUXURY'. When one think of the poor working conditions in comparison with that of the De Gales,, to think of nothing else, save "EXCESSIVE LUXURY" one and immediate justice of the other. Their very dogs look healthier and well than that of the workers and their condition, and that thought makes one sick. One can therefore conclude by saying that if to the workers, justice mean the total control by themselves of the land that make the De Gales so EXCESSIVELY LUXURIOUS that such justice should not be delayed nor hindered in any way.
The three person who came to discuss with us was Miss. Jessie De Gale (the holder of half share ½ ) Mrs. Alexander (the holder of another ½ share) and an unreasonable, hostile, seemingly racist Mrs. Leo De Gale.
The two share-holders made it quite clear to us that they have only half-share each of the estate and that they are not concerned about that but what they are concerned about is the money they have in the bank. They will not like to depart with it.
They explained to us that the estate has nine share-holders, and that the both of them have not all the right in saying to pass the estate lawfully to the workers. The explained that the other share-holders are in England, Australia, Italy and Barbados And that at the end of each year Mr. Campbell (manager of the estate) and Mr. Leo De Gale (attorney of the estate) ship to the shareholders, all De Gales of course! Their part of the BOOTY.
When we explained to the De Gales the condition of the poor workers presently working on the estate and of those who worked for over forty (40) and twenty (20) years and is getting $3.00 per week as pension to live on, they made it plain to us in no uncertain words that they are not concern about that. They also made it plain that they do not visit the estate, that they are not so concerned with the estate and the conditions existing there, and that Mr. Campbell is responsible for everything since they have made him fully in charge of the estate, giving him absolute power to do what so ever he wishes to do.
The meeting cam to an end because of the childish, hostile attitude of the Mrs. Leo De Gale taking it upon herself to command the two aunt-in-laws inside and away from us.
The meeting was however a successful one to us in as much we understood the life the De Gales live, which is one of total ease: - sleep - wake - eat - sleep - wake - eat - fill their pockets with money, all on workers back, suffering workers, sweat and blood.
We also gather from the meeting that the De Gales are happy people and are not concerned about those who have worked, cripple and die on their plantation. That they give no personal hand to Workers Conditions or Suffering.
From the meeting we plan another that Mr. Campbell is strongly responsible for quite a lot of suffering inflicted upon the workers.. That he has absolute power to change things, but that he is concerned only about his personal gains. We also gather from the De Gales that the P.R.G. have not as yet approach the De Gales on the Issue.
Finally from the meeting, we gather that the De Gales have no need for the land but that the workers have all need of it. That the De Gales have no need for anything but that the WORKERS HAVE NEED FOR EVERYTHING.
WE THEREFORE WISH TO REAFFIRM OUR SOLIDARITY WITH THE RIVER ANTOINE AGRICULTURAL WORKERS