A Historical Timeline of The Labour Movement in Trinidad and Tobago 1897 to 2004
1897 - March 1st: twenty one year old Charles Phillip forms The Working Men’s Reform Club.
1897 - Port of Spain druggist, Walter Mills, forms the Trinidad Working Men’s Association (TWA) to represent skilled black urban workers.
1902 - Establishment of the Rate-Payers Association (R.P.A.).
1910 - TWA establishes links with British Labour Party.
1916 - Establishment of the East Indian Destitute League by Mohammed Orfy.
1917 - End of East Indian immigration.
Strike of oil and asphalt leads to the arrest and imprisonment of five leaders under wartime defence regulations.
1919-1922 - Dockworkers strike leads to nationwide labour unrest.
1921-1922 - The Wood Commission visits the West Indies to make recommendations on constitutional reform in the colonies. It recommended elected members in Trinidad’s Legislative Council.
1922 - The TWA Begins publication of a paper, the Labour Leader.
1923 - Captain Arthur Andrew Cipriani becomes president of the TWA. The TWA agitated for the recognition of trade unions, an eight-hour workday, overtime pay, workmen’s compensation and improved working conditions, as well as for greater self-government and constitutional reform.
1925 - In Trinidad’s first National Elections, Cipriani won the Port of Spain seat with an overwhelming majority. He held the seat until his death in 1945.
1932 - The Trade Union Ordinance is enacted, making it possible for trade unions to be legally registered and recognized.
1934 - TWA renamed the Trinidad Labour Party to indicate that it had become a political party instead of registering as a trade union.
- Sugar workers stage protests and hunger march from Caroni to Port of Spain.;
- Formation of the National Unemployed Movement (NUM) by Jim Headly, Dudley Mahon and Elma Francois.
- Formation of the socialist Negro Welfare, Cultural and Social Association (NWA).
1935 - Workers at Apex Oilfields go on strike in March; this was the beginning of Butler’s emergence as a working class Leader. Butler and Adrian "Cola" Rienzi form the Trinidad Citizens League.
1936 - Butler leaves the Trinidad Labour Party (TLP) to form his own party.
1937 - June 18th: Oil workers at Forest Reserve under Butler’s leadership began strike action. The attempt to arrest Butler on charges of inciting breeches of the peace sparks widespread riots and unrest. Two policemen, Corporal Charlie King and Sub-Inspector Bradburn were killed in Fyzabad. Nine civilians were killed and fifty were wounded.
September – The Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) becomes the first registered trade union in Trinidad.
November – All Trinidad Sugar Estate and Factory Workers Trade Union (ATSEFWTU) is registered. Rienzi is elected president of both OWTU and ATSEFWTU. Federated Workers Trade Union (FWTU) and Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (SWWTU) registered under the 1932 Ordinance.
1937-1938 - Further Disturbances among workers in British Guiana, Barbados, Grenada and Jamaica.
1938 - Trade Disputes Ordinance established an arbitration tribunal to provide machinery for the settlement of disputes after collective bargaining had broke down. By the end of1938 there were ten trade unions in Trinidad, more than in any other West Indian colony.
1938-1939 - West India Royal Commission by Lord Moyne investigates conditions in the colonies. It recommended more British Government effort into promoting"development and welfare" and moderate constitutional change.
1939 - Establishment of the Trade Union Congress. Rienzi elected first president.
1939 - Government amends 1932 Ordinance to legalize peaceful picketing and give unions immunity from actions for damages arising out of strikes.
1939-1945 - World War II. Butler detained. Boom in oil industry. Establishment of US bases in Trinidad create heightened expectation among working class as many experience better personnel practices and working condition.
1945 - Butler released and hailed as a hero of the working class. Death of Cipriani.
1946 - First election with full adult suffrage. Butler loses to Albert Gomes in Port of Spain for a seat in the Legislative Council.
1947 JANUARY – Supporters of Butler stage a march on the Red House- rioting and unrest in Port of Spain.
1947 - Sugar workers strike for higher wages.
1950 - Butler party excluded from executive council as Gomes heads"quasi-ministerial" administration.
1957 - Formation of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP).
1959 - Establishment of the Industrial Development Corporation.
1962 - Trinidad and Tobago becomes the second British West Indian colony to gain independence. Dr. Eric Williams becomes first Prime Minister.
1965 - C.L.R. James forms the Workers and Farmers Party with George Weekes and Stephen Maharaj. WFP loses general election.
1970 - Black Power uprising led by university students and unemployed youth. Annual Register of Trade Unions reports that there are 136 trade unions in Trinidad and Tobago.
1973 - June 19, the anniversary of the Butler Riots, was declared an annual national holiday and celebrated as Labour Day.
1975 - 800,000 man days of productive works days lost due to strike, sick-outs, go-slows and industrial action.
1984 - George Weeke’s retirement severe blow to workers struggle.
1985 - Act to prescribe the procedure to be followed in the event of redundancy and to provide for severance payments to retrenched workers.
1990 - Contractors and General Trade Union (CGTU) wins 7% wage hike for Asphalt workers.
2004 - Protesting NWRHA workers storm administration building at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt. Hope, demanding letters for permanent workers.