Google+ Badge BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY

Thursday, 19 November 2015

BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : AFRO-TRINIDADIAN " GEORGE WEEKES " WAS A TRADE UNION LEADER AND A POLITICIAN AND ACTIVIST : GOES INTO THE " HALL OF BLACK GENIUS "

                                                    BLACK          SOCIAL         HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
















GEORGE WEEKES
                                                                                                                                                                  George Weekes                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           George Weekes was viewed by many as an individual who provoked or habitually engaged in controversial tactics. A well known Trade Unionist, George grew up in Toco with a strict father who was Head Master at the local primary school. Born on March 09, 1921, George was an energetic and investigative child. At times, his father would bring him along when he held meetings with other teachers to discuss the restrictions placed on them with respect to travel and other activities when the local priest was absent. Yet these meetings did not impact on George since he was not politically inclined at that time.

However when World War II began, he joined the Caribbean regiment which was part of the British Empire. It was during this stint abroad that George became politically minded. He experienced segregation, saw the ill treatment of African soldiers and other discriminatory practices that reinforced his black identity. He learnt about Fascism, Capitalism, and Socialism while reading press debates on the different economic, social and political systems. George returned a changed man from the war in 1945 and continued to hunger for more knowledge and action to raise the awareness among the people regarding the social injustices perpetuated against them. This strong sense of justice eventually propelled him into politics.

George registered with the British Empire Workers, Peasants and Ratepayers Union which was established by Uriah “Buzz” Butler. But George soon moved on and joined a political party called the West Indian Independence Party (WIIP). He was heavily influenced by two of its members, Lennox Pierre and John La Rose, who remained his close allies during his twenty five (25) year leadership of the Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU). Apart from his political activity, George supported any movement treating with the positive projection of African identity.

By 1960, Weekes joined the Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU) when he became a staff member of Texaco Ltd. In 1962, he was elected President General where he fought for the rights of oil workers. He gave them a vision that planted seeds of liberation that moved beyond salaries and working conditions but took them along the road of self, world view, economics and government.

George Weekes stoked and inflamed ideological fires in the oil belt by appealing to the innermost suppressed feelings of a people dehumanized in a racist system. His leadership was powerful and he moved his members with confidence to stand for what was just and right.

In the 1970s during the Black Power uprising, he played a significant role by supporting the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) in a broad based attack on the government. According the Raffique Shah, “Weekes was one of those leaders who sincerely believed that the workers could not win true justice through purely economic struggles but through political education.”