Frankly Speaking…Early Critchlow, lasting division?

Bring it! Especially the tickets!

This is still Critchlow week. It culminates with Labour Day tomorrow. It is the period to commemorate the life and times of Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, founder of trade unionism in these parts, pioneer icon for the working-class and still my personal hero of Guyana.

Tomorrow should be our Workers Day – the day set aside for the working-class to celebrate their collective solidarity in making justified requests – sometimes demands – from their employers, as well as to celebrate their past and current successes as they demonstrate to dramatise how important their minds, hands and sweat are to the existence and development of our Guyanese society.

Alas! Critchlow must be turning around uncomfortably in his grave and former vice-president, prime minister, PNC general secretary and current long-serving Mayor Hamilton Green is angry. But why is moral revivalist Green fuming and upset? He is annoyed that the powerful FITUG grouping is lauding Cheddi Jagan as labour leader, even mentioning the late Cheddi in the same breath with Critchlow. And he is especially disappointed with Carvil Duncan who now spearheads the (FITUG) Guyana Labour Union – the country’s first ever recognised trade union – the union of Critchlow and Forbes Burnham.

Since one union leader, at Green’s ceremony, mentioned that even HN Critchlow initially had to overcome division and disunity amongst those he led, I’ll turn to a most brief review of Critchlow – a true hero.

(I’ll leave Cheddi Jagan’s very real credentials as a trade unionist, sometimes surpassing those of LFS Burnham, to others.)
The Critchlow I admire(d)

Those really immersed in our trade union history and development would know that the street-smart, working-class strategist/intellectual HN “Skibby” Crichlow organised the first union of consequence.

Other most significant trivia of his life must recount the following: he could have been a top-class sprinter-athlete or could have played professional cricket in Australia.

But others should note the other most interesting highlights I find significantly lasting. (Ashton Chase records that…) Critchlow at a December 1930 Workers Labour Union meeting, spoke in favour of a fight of the working class “to overthrow capitalism and for the realisation of socialism”.

Strange words in those days from our father of trade unionism – long before the advent of Cheddi Jagan in the early forties. Know too that after Critchlow attended international trade union meetings in Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics (USSR), he was branded by the pro-colonial/capitalist BG press as a Red, a Communist and a Bolshevic. One editorial even promised Skibby Critchlow “a cell”.

Interesting stuff about a real roots-class representative whose own colleagues even turned on him for not being “educated” enough and also was once thought of as betraying his own members’ demands. “E sell we” was their misguided chant before they fully grasped his negotiating tactics.

Get literature about this working-class Guyanese Hero.

Hail Critchlow, even as we acknowledge present-day discord in the movement he helped found.
Division and discord

today – why?

When you read the literature of the time you’ll realise that there were also levels of disunity in the burgeoning labour movement of Critchlow’s time. But politics did not play such a significant role of divisiveness as is evident in this new millennium, here.

The re-incarnated FITUG, boasts the term “Independent” in its description. Of course, its rival minority group of unions, the Old-Boys-Club Trades Union Congress (TUC) disputes that the nearly 30,000-member FITUG could ever be independent with some of its leaders associated with Freedom House and/or New Garden Street.

So let me use two or three paragraphs to delineate just what the differences between the two are.

FITUG has asked the TUC, in the pursuit of reconciliation and re-unification to consider the following: that the rules of the TUC be amended to engender accountability and proportionality; that delegates to congress, special conferences, shall be based on one delegate for every 500 members or part thereof; that the TUC should be quite willing to make the annual submissions to the registrar of Trade Unions, based on its actual membership within these bargaining units; that all unions should have opportunity to aspire to the presidency of the TUC was and a formula for the presidency of that TUC was recommended by FITUG unions; that all unions who wish to be affiliated to the TUC should prove their bona fides by presenting recognition agreements, by showing that as an existing bargaining unit, it contains a minimum of 250 employee/members; that each union affiliate provide audited financial statements and returns – and so on.

There are other issues presented for TUC-FITUG consideration and settlement – like allocation of delegates to conference, selection of representatives to national boards and committees, criteria for selection of reps for overseas conferences and the role of the Critchlow Labour College.

You would think that the two labour groupings would find common ground to negotiate some consensus or compromise, in the interest of working- class cohesion and solidarity. You would be surprised! Who is the villain of the “peace”? Ask George de Peana and Sir Roy Trotman. But listen to our labour leaders tomorrow. It’s their day or their members’?
Bring it – ICCR/20 today!

So the latest truly international cricket tournament, officially-styled “ICC World Twenty 20 West Indies 2010, kicks off today at our own Providence. This is the American-type, hurry-up version of the game of cricket.

They’ve learnt from the 2007 experience when the ICC severely dampened the West Indian spirit and attendance with its draconian rules and high prices. They are urging West Indian fans over the two weeks, to bring it! I wondered what, and then I realized they meant the conch shell rattles costumes, food, personal cameras and flags. More than you could in 2007.

I’m not a passionate 20/20 fan but I must wish the tournament – and the West Indies hosts and team – well. But three interesting aspects from me: our own security minister Clement Rohee says he has fool-proof methods of finding visitors’ who overstay their welcome here after our matches. Just who would those be? And do you know that, despite ICC conditions, there is a silent, blackmarket big business involving tickets? Find out.

Thirdly, if you’re interested, remember there is a women’s T/20 ICC tournament being played alongside the regular contest! Enjoy!

♦ 1) I agree it’s “arrival”. Never mind the immigrants were all brought, coerced, sometimes duped. However done, they all “arrived”, right?

♦  2) Postponed: Issues and cases which disappear.

♦ 3) Thanks GPL! For the three Heavy/Light Bills sent to me over a short period. Please, I’m begging for time to pay…

‘Til Next Week!

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