On this day in Caribbean history, October 4,1941, the Barbados Workers’ Union, a general workers union and was registered with a membership of 25,000 persons covering all areas of employment in Barbados. Members are represented in Agriculture, Tourism and Restaurant Services, Transport, Government and Statutory Boards, Banking and Insurance, Manufacturing and Industry, Construction, Commerce and General Services.
The passing of the Trade Union Act in 1939, which came into force in 1940, provided legal sanction for the Barbados Workers’ Union to be founded on 4th October. The period between 1941 and 1944 was crucial for the Union, and the year 1944 was indeed a landmark in the forward advance of the workers’ movement.
The Union started in this initial period with three functional divisions: the Ships Carpenters, the Barbados Foundry Mechanics and the Central Foundry Mechanics. These three pioneer Divisions held the fort valiantly until 1944, following a strike at the Barbados Foundry, which gave a new lease of life to the Union.
Comrade McDonald Brathwaite, a senior workman at the Barbados Foundry, with over 20 years’ service, was dismissed and the Executive Council had no alternative but to support him. The act of dismissal was part of the employers’ method of intimidation.
The Workers’ Union is affiliated to the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL), which is headquartered in Barbados and is a member of The Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), which has its registered offices at “Solidarity House”, Harmony Hall, St. Michael. The Barbados Workers’ Union Labour College, the residential educational arm of the BWU was opened on 20 September 1974.