A VOICE AT THE WORKPLACE
Guest Editor: Niara. A. Phillips
CAR I B B EA N
MICHAEL MANLEY: A Voice at the Workplace
(Copyright reserved and reproduction without permission forbidden)
Marva A. Phillips
Michael Manley: Charismatic Leadership and Ideological Pragmatism 5
Denis M. Benn
Globalization, Labour Markets and the Empowerment of the South: 12
Relevance of Michael Manley's Prescriptions for Caribbean Workers
in the 21st Century
M. Badrul Hague and Richard Fletcher
Historicising Conversations with Michael Manley 31
Hilary McD. Beckles
Michael Manley in the Vanguard Towards Gender Equality 45
A. Lynn Bolles
A Personal Reflection on Manley's Model: Manley and Jamaica Labour 57
Markets in the 1970s
Michael Manley, Equality and the Jamaica Labour Movement 77
Partnership Building: Reflections on the Michael Manley Accord in the 94
Book Review 98
Notes on Contributors 101
Insructions to Authors 102
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Michael Manley and Caribbean Development:
The Culture of Resistance
Allah created the heaven's and the earth forjust ends,
and in order that each soul
May find the recompense of what it has earned, and
none of them shall be wronged.
The Holy Qur-an 3:22
The texts presented in this publication have been selected from contributions
made at a symposium entitled A Voice at The Workplace: An Exploration of Manley's
Contribution to Labour and Employment Relations held in October, 1999 at the Mona
Campus of The University of the West Indies. Significantly, they call attention to, and
provide critical insights into, the continuing open debates concerning Michael Manley's
interventions with respect to development discourse.
At the centre of all contributions is the ideological construction of Manley as a
deeply engaged political mind that was driven mostly by 'large causes' such as the
struggle for justice for workers, the campaign for a more equitable and democratic
nation-building process, and the crusade for Third World solidarity in the face of an
unrelenting neo-colonialism. (Levi,1989:22). His willingness to chart an ideological path
for worker participation, understanding fully the inequality inherent in the relationship
between the owners of capital and those who work for them, is presented as residing at
the core of his input to new forms of thinking about the struggles for development.
The compelling message that emerges from these presentations, then, is that the
legacy of Michael Manley is a rich and complex one. Like Bob Marley, his equally
revolutionizing contemporary, his public voice constituted Jamaica as a site where intense
contests over the use and ownership of resources and the meanings of sovereignty were
played out before a world audience whose imagination was captured by his ideological
persuasiveness and depth of commitment.
Both his admirers and critics will be anxious to secure new insights into the
contents and contexts of these papers, if only to focus or widen the nature of their
discursive postures. As such this volume should be read as an attempt to facilitate the
process of intellectual and political reflection. Furthermore, they provide an additional
opportunity to secure perspectives on a public personality that generated strong, contra-
dictory feelings within a young, deeply divided nation state. As such he was created
within the political account in ways that speak to extremes with respect to perceptions of
the state and condition of the nation.
Not surprising then, Manley's persistence and determination as Prime Minister
of Jamaica to initiate what to him were people centred programmes have been credited
and discredited at the same and different times by participants in the project of nation-
building. His effort to introduce radical concepts to political debate in order to raise the
social consciousness and action among the working classes remains an enduring testament
of his commitment to democracy and the elimination of all types of discrimination and
disenfranchisement. His notion that there should be democratic openness within public
governance also targeted the corporate space, focusing as it did on the need to legitimize
and empower the workers' 'voice at the workplace'
Manley's ability to articulate a sophisticated but in publicly accessible manner
the concerns of workers, and to develop policy strategies to reduce social and economic
imbalances within the class structure, placed him at the centre of the turbulence generated
by the contest over models and modalities of development. An effect of the intensity of
the contest was the spilling over of things political into the area of the personal, a blurred
space that allowed social spectacle to have political importance and meaning within the
narrative of change and continuity.
The transformation of private worlds into sites of social discourse brought to the
fore notions of accountability with respect to the relationship between inner and outer
integrity, a dynamic which in turned invoked the national standing of the entire Manley
family. Such an invocation led Levi (1989:15) to stress that integrity has remained one
of Michael's most important characteristics and a way of life for the family. Richard
Hart, retired solicitor and historian, in his 1997 publication "Michael Manley: An
Assessment and Tribute" describes Manley as "a man of integrity who anyone would be
proud to call a friend"
The political construction of the many aspects of Manley over time has produced
a range of other public understandings, many of which have become a part of Jamaican
political iconography. He has been described as Joshua the biblical liberator, a traitor of
his class and caste, and a subversive romantic who believed unashamedly in the spirit of
the people, an idealism rooted in the historical struggles of the poor. These papers
attempt to identify, clarify and understand the complex nature of these representations.
The concepts of Charismatic Leadership and Ideological Pragmatism have
generated considerable discussion with respect to Manley's style and methods. Dennis
Benn has separated them and pulled them back together to explain the Manley phenome-
non. Manley's charismatic leadership allowed him to create a highly personalized
political culture. This reinforces the theory as explained by Benn that "individual popular
choice is significantly influenced by charismatic leadership with the help of activities
through the political party and the trade union, of which Manley had access.
The second aspect of Benn's thesis is that Manley's ideological pragmatism was
rooted in his readings of the nature of external and internal constraints to policy. The
formulation of strategies and approaches to policy implementation required this form of
intellectual sensibility. His charisma in turn influenced his ideological posture in that the
effectiveness of his political language within the context of traditional populism rested on
a powerful theatrical presence in which the voice is as important as the physical self.
Be strong and stand firm, for you are the man to give
this people possession of the land which I swore to
their ancestors that I would give them. Do not swerve
from this either to right or to left and then you will
succeed wherever you go. Have the book of this Law
always on your lips: meditate on it day and night...be
strong and stand firm. Be fearless and un-
Manley's display of creative intelligence has placed him ahead of many. Those
who knew him well understood that the emotional cries of his opponents would never
have been able to stop the surge seeking to empower workers and the disadvantaged. He
fully understood the power of participation in the decision-making process which he
described as the fundamental factor that separates employer and employee in the produc-
Unfortunately realistic apolitical concepts that were worker oriented often came
under suspicion. However Manley's tenacity in the pursuit of worker involvement, albeit
the antagonism and suspicions on the part of both workers and management allowed for
the successful introduction of the concept of worker involvement in decision making and
ownership of the enterprise in which they worked.
The suspicion of sections of the middle classes and upper classes of Manley, the
Government led by him and the trade unions, saw his concept for worker involvement and
ownership as another opportunity for him to introduce radical socialism through the back
These papers are a part of the continuing discourse in analysing his tenacity and
determination. His ability to persevere until the world economy arrived at the stage
where integrated systems of financing, production and marketing economic integration
- became a reality, placed Jamaica in the forefront of developing countries that introduced
the Employee Share Ownership Plan legislation.
The new world order and globalization demand that workers and employers
co-operate. Manley understood this and was clear that co-operation between the two
parties was a precondition for success and survival. He believed that "a most fundamental
task to which the union movement should set its hand is the development of a strategy
designed to move workers increasingly into a position of ownership in the enterprises
where they are engaged" (Manley, 1974:175)
In their essay on Globalization, Labour Markets and the Empowerment of
the South: Relevance of Michael Manley's Prescription for Caribbean Workers in
the 21st Century, Badrul Haque and Richard Fletcher remind us of Manley's charge to
the regional trade union movement for the need to increase and improve workers
education and productivity in order to increase job security. Manley's grasp and
understanding of the process of globalization in the mid-seventies is compared with
worked done in 1989 and 1999 and deepens and widens the scope of the discourse on
In Historicising Conversations with Michael Manley Hilary Beckles suggests
that as a "subversive romantic" Manley believed that the uniqueness of the Jamaican and
the invention of the 'West' in the Caribbean would ultimately bring to life and keep
alive his sincere plans for the nation and the region. In this essay Beckles is clearly
supporting Diop's (1991:212) view that the historical conscience, through the feeling of
cohesion that it creates, constitutes the safest and the most solid shield of cultural security
for a people. It further highlights Manley's continuous search for solutions.
Women have been significant in Michael Manley's life as he appears not only to
be always in love with one woman or another, but rather, to like women. His liking for
women apparently made him willing to recognize and respect their abilities. Lynn Bolles'
essay Michael Manley in the Vanguard towards Gender Equality points to his
openness to other perspectives and a willingness to change and grow.
Bolles' analysis is that Manley's association with his wife of the 70s and his
appreciation and respect for the women's movement motivated him, through public
policy, to "rectify elements of gender inequality in Jamaican society including some of
the most profound legislation of the day" and to establish the maternity leave with pay
legislation and establish and support the work of the Women's Bureau. The focus on the
social construct of gender in the organizational structures of Caribbean trade unions is a
speciality of Bolles. Her presentation takes us to different islands and introduces the
voices of some female trade unionists.
Trade Unionist Lloyd Goodleigh brings the discussion back to the election
mandate of 1972 and the response of the Manley led government in his presentation on
Manley and Jamaica Labour Markets in the 1970s. The enactment of Labour Market
related policies undertaken by the Government was a means by which to reduce poverty.
Goodleigh brings another perspective to the discourse by providing a detailed list of the
poverty reduction measures undertaken by the Manley government in keeping with the
election mandate. He also examines the strength and weaknesses of the policies and
obstacles to achievement.
Michael Manley, Equality and the Jamaican Labour Movement, is an essay
by Anthony Bogues that tells the story of Michael Manley's entry into the labour
movement beginning in 1952 with his trade union activity. Readers are treated to a view
of the development of Manley and the influence of his trade union experiences on his
growth in the political arena. An early act of Manley's on becoming Prime Minister was
the repealing of the Masters and Servants Law. Bogues writes that Manley claims "that
his trade union experience had given him an insight into how the Jamaican working class
viewed the post-colonial state legal codes". Bogues takes us full circle from his early
years of work in the trade union movement to his work in the trade union movement in
the final months of his life.
Finally, Trevor Munroe's guides in Partnership building: Reflections on the
Michael Manley Accord in the Bauxite/Alumina Industry is instructive and brings to
light Manley's ability to forge partnerships and build relationships in the interest of the
The trade union movement, nationally, regionally and internationally that pre-
pared Michael Manley for the man that he was to become, was stunned at his passing. It
is therefore appropriate that the forum within which these ideas were discussed was
organized by the Trade Union Education Institute in collaboration with the Jamaica
Confederation of Trade Unions. The exercise out of which these papers have come is the
first of many that will examine the Michael Manley era, his politics and policies and the
issues surrounding his vision for the development of small nation states.
MARVA A. PHILLIPS
PREFACE: Michael Manley and Caribbean Development:
The Culture of Resistance
I suspect that any assessment of Michael Manleys contribution to the
development of his native Jamaica will become mired in controversy because he was a
controversial figure and sufficient time has not yet elapsed since his passing, to allow for
truly objective and dispassionate analysis.
Nevertheless, I am sure that even his most ardent detractors would not deny his
tremendous impact on the Trade Union Movement, not merely because of his gift of
persuasion and advocacy at the bargaining table, nor even because of his magnanimity of
spirit, his refusal to hold grudges, his ability to come to grips with the myriad
contradictions and complexities of the human condition, his capacity for civility and
generosity towards his opponents, but for the concrete actions he took to change some of
the deeply imbedded prejudices and injustices endured for centuries by the black
underclass in Jamaica. A strong legislative programme, aimed at "empowerment of the
people in all phases of national life" was launched during the seventies resulting, in the
words of the beneficiaries themselves, in the 'smadditisation of Jamaica'
Even as he lay gravely ill on his death-bed, Michael Manley played a pivotal role
in resolving a potentially explosive dispute in the Bauxite/Alumina industry, as attested to
by Trevor Munroe in his paper on partnership building. His intervention and wise counsel
eventually led to the historic Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of
Jamaica, the Trans-National Corporations and the Trade Unions representing the
employees a path-breaking MOU which is now known as the Michael Manley Accord.
His fostering of the idea of the social contract was born of his pragmatic
acceptance of the reality of the age of the globalized market which, in turn, is predicated
on a culture of partnership between State, the bureaucracy, trade unions and workers,
employers and managers and all with the wider community. And even as he embraced the
neo-liberalism of the eighties when he returned to power in 1989, the goals of
participatory democracy, of people empowerment, of social justice and "transformation
without hopelessly dividing the society", never left his vision.
The decade of the 1970s over which he presided remains the most controversial
period of Jamaican post-Independence politics. His critics blame him to this day for
causing economic decline by squandering the gains from the bauxite levy on public
spending at the expense of high productivity, by scaring away foreign investors with
inflammatory rhetoric of leftwing ideology, and by plunging the country into enormous
debt, dependency on the IMF and unrelieved negative growth. His defenders, on the other
hand, insist on the rightness of his vision in seeking a third path, independent of either
Washington or Moscow the two polar points on the Cold War continuum. They cite the
huge strides he made in social justice and educational opportunity, giving to the mass of
the Jamaican population a sense of place and purpose as creative participants in the
Michael Manley's legacy of empowerment of the people through legislation,
includes the 1974 "Employment Termination and Redundancy Act", which replaced the
Masters and Servants Act of 1838, the Minimum Wage Act which included domestic
servants, the Status of Children Act, Mutterity Leave Act, Fair Competition Act and
introduction of the concept of worker participation. During his second term as Prime
Minister, in the 1989-92 period, he spearheaded the Micro Investment Development
Agency, to help the poorest youth with collateral for starting small businesses and
introduced a National Planning Council comprising government, private sector and trade
unions as part of his thrust towards a culture of partnership in democratic governance.
Beyond the shores of Jamaica, Mr. Manley was arguably the best known and
most effective Commonwealth Caribbean politician to have had an impact on the world
scene in the latter half of the twentieth century. He is widely acknowledged for the
positive role he played in facilitating the attainment of African majority rule in Zimbabwe
as well as the liberation of South Africa from apartheid. He is equally well known for his
North-South advocacy of the idea of the interdependence of nations and of a more rational
approach to technical assistance on the part of multilateral organizations (like the IDB,
World Bank and IMF) in dealing with the developing world. But he will also be
remembered for his pivotal role in efforts to ease the debt crisis, in the review of
commodity prices on the world market to reflect fairness and justice (especially in the
case of bauxite) and in the on-going discourse in the quest for solutions to the problems
of democratic governance, especially in circumstances where human capital was threat-
ened with marginalisation in the social order. His advocacy for the rehabilitation of Cuba
and for a more peaceful and tolerant hemispheric geopolitics gained him powerful
enemies but admiration and undying loyalty on the part of thousands throughout the
Caribbean, its diaspora and the rest of the two-thirds world.
He embraced democratic socialism as a guiding principle in his vision and the
programmes instituted to achieve this. While his stance won him fame and recognition
world-wide among members of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77 and
Socialist International (of which he was an Honorary President), he faced stiff opposition
from right-wing and right of Centre opponents at home. Sir Shridath Ramphal, former
Commonwealth Secretary General and current Chancellor of The University of the West
Indies, wrote in a tribute to Manley:
He was respected and admired by his peers among
world leaders men and women as widely different as
Willy Brandt, Olaf Palme, Indira Gandhi, Julius Ny-
erere, George Bush and both Pierre Trudeau and
Brian Mulroney. He became, at the height of his
political career, one of the always small group of
world leaders with influence beyond country or
region a player on the global stage whose role always
mattered to the quality of the play.
A multi-faceted, Renaissance Man, Michael Manley had interests beyond
politics and trade unionism. He was a journalist, author, scholar, keen sportsman and
patron of the arts. He imagined himself to be a farmer and tried many projects, on a
national scale, such as the Hounslow Estate, as well as personal, commercial investments
(his coffee farm and horticultural venture) neither of which was a resounding success but
he was passionate and totally consumed by each of his latest projects.
Although basically a shy person, he was captivated by people, and found it
impossible to resist responding to young, enquiring minds bold enough to engage him in
dialogue. He conducted correspondence with a wide range of people, like the young black
Briton of Jamaican parentage who first wrote to him at the age of 13 and promptly
received a reply, the beginning of a lively correspondence, which fuelled the ambitions of
this youngster in the Caribbean diaspora, reaching out for self-esteem and identity. He
grew to become a successful journalist, a politically aware, self-assured, confident
professional in Britain armed with a strong sense of identity to meet all odds. He credits
Michael Manley for his success. And there are tens of thousands like him, who drew
inspiration less directly.
The ongoing discourse which Hilary Beckles describes in his thought-provoking
contribution, "Historicising Conversations with Michael Manley" was therefore not
unusual. He had similar exchanges with other academics such as Kari Levitt, with his
political peers and with members of his family; he would write letters even to his mother,
while they lived together in the same house.
Michael Manley was undoubtedly in the vanguard of the struggle for Gender
Equality. He hated above anything else, injustice and intolerance. In The Politics of
Change, his political treatise published in 1975, he asserted, "The disabilities from which
they (women) suffer in adult life are the products of systematic discrimination reflecting
deep-seated prejudices in the society It is an intolerable invasion of the principle of
equality" In addition to the several pieces of legislation which addressed some of these
injustices suffered by half of the adult population, he established the Women's Bureau
and put the Women's Movement squarely on his political agenda, particularly in the early
seventies. Female politicians, such as Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, Senators Marjorie
Taylor, Maxine Henry-Wilson and Syringa Marshall-Burnett, as well as former politician
Princess Lawes and Phyllis McPherson-Russell, can attest to the active encouragement
they received from Manley. The women in his own family he saw not only as equal
partners but also as his mentors as well as his mentees. They bounced ideas off each other
and he was totally supportive and involved in their separate careers.
He was the kind of politician who understood the place of intellectual inquiry in
human development and the obligation of the man of action to invest such action with
thought and reflection. He was the author of some seven books on politics and
international affairs and of a well-researched tome on the history of West Indian cricket.
The University of the West Indies appointed him in 1996 to the newly endowed Chair in
Public Policy at the Mona Campus in Jamaica. He lectured at many leading American
universities as distinguished Visiting Fellow throughout the eighties and after his
retirement in 1992. A symposium in his honour, mounted on the campus of an institution
of higher learning, and the regional University of the West Indies in particular, he would
regard as a signal honour.
A staunch advocate of Caribbean regional integration, he not only served as a
major architect of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), he became in retirement a
catalyst and interlocutor with all the major leaders in Central America and the Caribbean
region engaged in formulating the programme for the newly created Association of
Caribbean States. He also acted as Chairman of the Caribbean Development Task Force
and was active in engineering the involvement of the United Nations in assisting the
restoration of democracy in Haiti.
Michael Manley's service to the working-class people of Jamaica, through trade
unionism and the building of a sophisticated industrial relations system, and to the rest of
Jamaica through his advocacy of self-reliance and participatory democracy, as well as to
the peoples of the developing world in their quest for social justice and the opportunity to
function on a level playing-field, is not likely to be lost and will, ultimately, ensure that
history will be kind to his memory.
The Papers brought together in this volume edited by Marva Phillips, celebrates
that service and should themselves serve to put into perspective, aspects of the work of
this seminal Third World thinker and Caribbean man of action.
Charismatic Leadership and Ideological Pragmatism
DENIS M. BENN
I am extremely pleased to have been invited to make a presentation at this
important symposium, not only because the chair I now occupy bears Michael Manley's
name but, more importantly, because I believe that, whether one agrees with his policy
or not, Michael Manley is an important historical figure who has cast a large shadow on
Jamaica and the wider international arena. What I would like to do in this presentation is
to look at Michael Manley as an expression of charismatic leadership and, in this context,
to explore the phenomenon in terms of the way we conceive of the political culture in
Jamaica and in the wider Caribbean region. Secondly, I will analyse the pragmatic nature
of his political philosophy and also draw some conclusions about the consequences of his
ideological pragmatism, most notably in terms of his final embrace of some of the
assumptions of neo-liberalism, for the struggle by Jamaica and the developing countries
as a whole against the intellectual hegemony imposed by the North.
Michael Manley was a figure of truly historical proportions who left an indelible
mark on the Jamaican polity. He was also a heroic figure the proverbial "Joshua"
leading his people in the struggle for economic emancipation in keeping with the mandate
bequeathed to his generation by his father, Norman Washington Manley. But Michael
Manley was larger than Jamaica. Through a combination of personality and ideas, he
also became an eloquent and persuasive spokesman for the South in the context of his
activities in the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77
Writers such as Max Weber, Edward Shils, Goran Therborn and Bryan Wilson
have variously described charismatic appeal in terms of a claim to power originating from
some transcendental source although, more recently, it has been defined by some
commentators as the exercise of leadership based on a combination of exceptional
qualities which inspire loyalty and attract followers. Michael Manley qualifies on both
counts since he is heir to a messianic religious tradition in Jamaican society and a populist
political culture which is best exemplified by Alexander Bustamante. In a sense, Michael
Manley combines the intellectual gifts of his father with the populist charismatic appeal
Quite apart from his personal attributes, Michael Manley was also a product of
particular historical circumstances that were shaped by a number of emerging economic,
social and political forces. Given this reality, neither the Carlylean view of history which
emphasizes the primacy of individual leadership nor the orthodox Marxist perspective
which emphasizes the role of objective economic forces in shaping history is appropriate
as an explanation of the Manley phenomenon. Perhaps CLR James' aphorism that great
men make history but not entirely in circumstances of their own making more accurately
captures the complex interplay between personality and social forces in Jamaica in the
At the beginning of the 1970s Jamaica faced a number of major economic and
social challenges. Despite some growth in the 1960s and the increasing diversification
of the economy based on the expansion of tourism, manufacturing, bauxite mining as well
as agriculture, unemployment stood at 23.6 per cent in 1972. Moreover, there were
significant income disparities in the society, which were reflected in the growth of an
urban underclass faced with significant economic and social deprivation which had
spawned a culture of violence.
The period also witnessed the growth of black consciousness, due in part to the
influence of the black struggle in the US, and the increased political consciousness of the
urban underclass, as was reflected in the social commentary echoed in Bob Marley's
music. This development was accompanied by the emergence of a significant counter
cultural movement centred on Rastafarianism. Collectively, these factors served to
radicaliz the political culture and gave rise to a demand for a fundamental redefinition of
the existing social order.
Both by temperament and on the basis of his appreciation of the objective
conditions of dispossession, Manley instinctively sympathised with the aspirations of the
Faced with these challenges, the PNP government which took office in 1972
embarked on an impressive range of economic and social reforms. Indeed, it is quite
remarkable that within the first three years of its election, the government under Michael
Manley's leadership, succeeded in putting in place a special employment programme, a
skill training programme, an adult literacy programme (JAMAL), a public housing
programme and a self-supporting farmers development programme. Moreover, it insti-
tuted a national minimum wage, lowered the voting age to eighteen years, provided free
secondary and university education, established a National Youth Service, the Interna-
tional Bauxite Association (IBA), Jamaica Nutrition Holdings and the Workers Bank. In
addition, the government embarked on a wide ranging programme of nationalization,
involving mainly banks and hotels.
It is significant that this impressive range of measures was accomplished in the
absence of a clearly articulated ideology. However by 1974, Manley took the lead in
articulating the need for a new ideological framework to guide political action and to
serve as a basis for mabilizing the society in support of agreed national objectives. This
launched a process of intensive debate within the party on the elements that should
constitute democratic socialism. After much internal wrangling and following the adop-
tion of a preliminary declaration on the subject in September 1974, the new philosophy
was eventually reflected in the Principles and Objectives of the People's National Party
which were published in 1979, some five years after it was first mooted.
Essentially, democratic socialism was premised on the need for a state led
development effort in the context of a mixed economy, which was also based on the
establishment of an all class alliance in which the interests of the working class would be
predominant; the provision of increased economic opportunities for all members of the
society; and the establishment of an inclusive political culture which would guarantee the
participation of all citizens in the political process. In terms of broad principles, it
asserted the right of every Jamaican to meaningful employment, the ownership of private
property and equality before the law.
While the document systematized a number of the principles that had implicitly
informed government action, it was achieved at a high price since the process of
formulating it had produced at least two negative effects. First it accentuated the serious
ideological divide between the left wing and the moderates within the party which was not
fully resolved with the publication of the document on Principles and Objectives.
Secondly, the radical rhetoric which followed in the wake of the initial declaration of
democratic socialism in 1974 provoked the defection of some class elements, most
notably the capitalist class and elements of the middle class, who had previously
supported the party, but who eventually made common cause with the opposition JLP and
therefore accentuated the ideological division within the larger society that led eventually
to the electoral defeat of the PNP in 1980 and the demise of democratic socialism which
followed in its wake.
In the articulation of democratic socialism, Manley was in fact searching for a
'third way' between the Puerto Rican model with its excessive reliance on private sector
investment and the Cuban 'command economy' model with its emphasis on state
monopoly, neither of which Manley felt was suitable to the needs of Jamaica. In his quest
for a non-capitalist path, Manley was very attracted to the Scandinavian model of social
democracy which reflected an enlightened social policy and this clearly influenced his
own economic philosophy. Indeed as Manley himself pointed out, many of the reforms
reflected in the democratic socialist path he had adopted were no more radical than those
carried out in countries such as Sweden and Norway. Consequently, it was the process
of radicalisation which followed in the wake of the adoption of the ideology and the
radical rhetoric which accompanied it that proved problematical.
In hindsight, therefore, the question may be legitimately raised whether the quest
for ideological precision by the party in the name of democratic socialism, undertaken at
Manley's insistence, was really necessary, bearing in mind that the bulk of a very
progressive social reform programme was already put in place. In fact, if one compares
the measures adopted during the period 1972-1974 with those adopted between 1975 and
1979, the latter is comparatively modest.
In reviewing the experience of the implementation of democratic socialism,
Stephens and Stephens have correctly pointed to the difficulties faced by small indebted
developing countries to establish an alternative programme to counter the IMF such as the
PNP sought to do in 1979. The problem facing Manley and the PNP was that the
government had incurred a heavy debt burden which was in part due to the fact that the
distributive ethic of democratic socialism tended to out-pace the development of the type
of productive capacity necessary to sustain the programme of social reform. This was of
course not helped by the adverse external economic environment, including a significant
increase in oil prices which was particularly detrimental to the Jamaican economy, given
its heavy dependence on imported oil. Even so, it has been pointed out that a number of
opportunities were missed to stimulate increased production and output in the economy.
For example, as Stephens and Stephens have pointed out, the initial US$100m windfall
from the bauxite levy was in fact spent largely on consumption instead of production.
Finally, there is widespread consensus that the PNP's options were also limited by the fact
that the implementation of the various reform programmes on which it embarked in
pursuit of the objectives of democratic socialism was less than effective. For this reason,
it is surprising that Stephens and Stephens argue that democratic socialism of the Manley
era represents a model for the Caribbean, bearing in mind the significant internal and
external obstacles which stood in the path of its implementation in Jamaica. If one were
to concede the validity of this argument, the implementation of far reaching social change
such as those envisaged in the democratic socialist experiment in Jamaica would need to
be pursued with a great deal of 'tactical' pragmatism.
In reviewing the role of Manley's charismatic leadership in the context of these
developments, it may be said that despite the economic setbacks experienced under
democratic socialism, he succeeded in creating a more inclusive political culture by
bringing into the political process a number of class elements, including the lumpen
proletariat and other elements of the urban underclass. It is also true to say that Manley's
charismatic personality succeeded in increasing significantly the crowd turnout at political
meetings at a level which was unprecedented in Jamaica's political history.
This fact has important significance for the way we conceive the political process
in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Within recent years there has been an attempt
to impose a behaviouralist perspective on the analysis of Caribbean political realities
which, under the influence of public choice theory and the theory of rational expectations,
emphasizes the primacy of individual choice. This approach often leads to an exagger-
ated reductionism in seeking to explain political decisions. However, the experience of
Jamaica in the Manley era suggests that individual popular choice is significantly
influenced by charismatic leadership and certainly mediated through institutional arrange-
ments such as party and trade union structures. To some extent this is also a function of
the small size of Caribbean societies. What this suggests is that institutional and
structuralist perspectives are likely to offer superior insights into the political process in
these societies than a behaviouralist perspective based on neo-liberal philosophical
The second element of the analysis focuses on the issue of Manley's ideological
pragmatism which while meriting attention in its own right, is not unrelated to the
phenomenon of charismatic leadership since although Manley gave theoretical shape to
the aspirations of the Jamaican people, the objective conditions confronting them also led
to his growing radicalisation which in turn shaped the content of his ideology.
Manley's ideological pragmatism is reflected in the selective balance established
between the substantive elements that constituted democratic socialism adopted by the
party in 1979. The emphasis on a state led process of development is counter-balanced
by the concession to a mixed economy and a recognition of the importance of the private
sector, which in a sense also reflected a compromise between the left wing and moderates
in the PNP.
However, while there was significant flexibility in the substantive content of
democratic socialism, there was in fact much less pragmatism in terms of the appreciation
of the tactical and strategic requirements, both at the domestic and international level, for
managing a radical transformation process.
At the domestic level, as was pointed out earlier, the apparent inability to prevent
the defection of elements of the capitalist class as well as the middle class from the all
class alliance on which democratic socialism was premised proved to be a fundamental
tactical error. Needless to say, the imposition of the controversial land tax and the
introduction of a National Youth Service did not help in stemming this defection.
Similarly, at the international level, increasing ties with Cuba and in particular the support
of Cuba's action in sending troops to Angola, which Henry Kissinger characterized as a
'development of not inconsiderable geopolitical significance' certainly increased tension
between Jamaica and the US and facilitated the formation of a coalition between domestic
and external opposition elements in support of a concerted destabilisation effort which led
to the electoral defeat of the PNP in 1980.
What the foregoing analysis reveals is that while there was considerable ideo-
logical pragmatism in the selection of the philosophical elements which shaped the
ideology of democratic socialism there was insufficient pragmatism in appreciating the
significant capacity of the US to destabilise governments whose activities are perceived to
be inimical to its geopolitical and geo-strategic interests, even though the experience of
Guatemala in 1954, Guyana in the 1960s and Chile in the 1970s should have served to
drive home this point. It is also significant that despite the Jamaican precedent, the
Marxist left in the New Jewel Movement (NJM) in Grenada, whose intra-party conflict
led to US intervention and the resulting demise of the revolution, in effect committed the
same tactical error with considerable implications for the radical left in the Caribbean, as
Perry Mars has recently reminded us.
Manley's forthright embrace of market liberalisation following the re-election of
the PNP in 1989, is also significant as an expression of ideological pragmatism. Clearly
during the period 1980-1989, when the PNP was out of office, a number of fundamental
changes had occurred in the international system, most notably the collapse of the Soviet
Union and the end of the Cold War which had in effect resulted in the emergence of a
triumphant capitalism and the corresponding hegemonic influence of neo-liberalism.
Consequently, while the objective conditions of economic and social deprivation
continued to exist in Jamaica at the beginning of the 1990s, the fact that the external
environment was even less propitious than in the 1970s made it obvious to Manley that
the prospects of engineering a radical solution to the problems of Jamaica were much less
feasible than they were in the 1970s bearing in mind that even then the democratic
socialist experiment had also collapsed. Of course, some commentators have argued,
with considerable merit, that Manley's embrace of market liberalisation reflected a
psychological response to the trauma of defeat and the sense of rejection at the 1980
elections as well as the violence which engulfed the society in the lead up to those
elections. Seen in this context, it was perhaps inevitable that Manley would seek to
modify his ideological stance on his return to office.
Manley's ideological 'about turn' is nevertheless quite surprising in light of his
major struggle with the IMF during the 1970s over some of these same principles which
he came to embrace. Indeed, Manley's new faith in the market stood in marked contrast
to his eloquent critique in his book Jamaica: Struggle in the Periphery(1982) of the
assumptions of a market driven IMF sponsored structural adjustment programme prem-
ised on the existence of a developed productive capacity capable of responding to
appropriate policy stimuli which, as he pointed out, did not exist in Jamaica and many
other developing countries. Moreover, Manley had also persuasively argued while he was
in opposition, that a reliance on market forces by the JLP government during the 1980s,
had failed to solve the fundamental problems facing the Jamaican economy and had in fact
aggravated these problems.
More important still, the attempt to rationalise the adoption of the new thrust in
the name of democratic socialism reflects a number of major contradictions and certainly
borders on conceptual nominalism, which is defined as the accepted validity of any
concept or definition as long as it satisfies the criteria laid down by the author.
What this suggests is that Michael Manley's pragmatism acknowledged no real
boundaries since he was prepared to abandon his commitment to ideological positions
previously defended with tremendous passion and conviction. It is true that although he
became converted to the notion that the market could serve as a more effective instrument
for generating the resources necessary to finance a programme of social and economic
reform, he never really abandoned his core commitment to improving the situation of the
dispossessed. But this alone is not sufficient to justify the argument that democratic
socialism was not being abandoned. At most, it could be conceded that Manley was
groping towards a social democratic model or maybe what could be termed 'market
socialism' but even this is questionable.
What is significant is that regardless of Manley's motives his perceived endorse-
ment of the neo-liberal model tended to confer on it a certain legitimacy and therefore
unconsciously reinforced a hegemonic intellectual order which has legitimised current
approaches to globalization and liberalisation which have clearly operated to the disadvan-
tage of the developing countries. Needless to say, Manley's perceived abandonment of
the cause also contributed to a weakening of the struggle of the developing countries to
assert an alternative development vision.
In assessing Manley's overall contribution, some critics would argue that in the
end Joshua had simply abandoned his ideological faith and became a converted Saul on
the proverbial road to Damascus. Yet if we accept Manley's assertion in his semi-auto-
biographical book entitled Jamaica: Struggle on the Periphery that history must judge not
only results but also intentions, then the judgement of history will be much kinder to him
since no one has ever questioned his abiding commitment to the struggle for economic
and social upliftment, both in Jamaica and in the developing world as a whole.
My conclusion is that Michael Manley has exercised a profound influence on the
political destiny of Jamaica and has also made a significant contribution to the cause of
the Third World in terms of its search for justice and equity. Seen in these terms,
Manley's contribution to Jamaica and the world is of tremendous historical significance.
James, William. Pragmatism, Prometheus Books (1991).
Levi, Darrell E. Michael Manley: The Making of a Leader, Heinemann Publishers (Caribbean) Ltd. (1989).
Manley, Michael. Jamaica: Struggle in the Peiiphery, Writers and Readers Publishing Co-operation Soci-
ety Ltd. London (1982).
Manley, Michael. The Poverty of Nations: Reflections on Underdevelopment and the World Economy, Pluto
Press, London (1991).
Mars, Perry. Ideology and Change: The Transformation of the Caribbean Left, Wayne State University
Press, Detroit Michigan/The Press, The University of the West Indies (1998).
Panton; David Jamaica's Michael Manley: The Great Transformation (1972 -1992) Kingston Publishers Ltd.
Stephens, Evelyne Huber. and John D. Stephens, Democratic Socialism in Jamaica: The Political Movement
and Social Transformation in Dependent Capitalism Princeton University Press (1986).
Therborn, Goran. The Ideology of Power and the Power of Ideology New Left Books, London (1980).
Thompson, Kenneth. Beliefs and Ideology Tavistock Publications, London (1986).
Wilson, Bryan. The Noble Savage: The Primitive Origins of Charisma and Its Contemporary Survival Univer-
sity of California Press (1975).
Globalization, Labour Markets and the Empowerment of the South:
Relevance of Michael Manley's Prescriptions for Caribbean
Workers in the 21st Century
M. BADRUL HAQUE and RICHARD FLETCHER
As the end of the twentieth century approaches, the
dominant reality of the world economy is the increas-
ing globalization of production. As a consequence,
the concept of the nation state as an arena for inde-
pendent economic development is becoming increas-
ingly obsolete. The first consequence of
globalization is that delinking as a possible path for
economic development for the Third World countries
is more remote than ever. [T]he agenda of the
1990's essentially differs from that of the 1970's by
being more concerned with the empowerment of the
South rather than with pleading with the North.
The Poverty of Nation, 1991, Ch. 6
If there is to be a chance for the Third World, a new
generation of thinkers, activists, and leaders must
emerge. They must understand the relationship be-
tween democratic process, self-reliance, and transfor-
mation. The challenge is immense, but it must be
Up the Down Escalator, p. 271.
The late Michael Manley recognized that globalization, or economic integration
among countries, presents formidable challenges for the Caribbean and other developing
countries. The globalization process has accelerated since 1989 and the developing
countries cannot halt it. Therefore, countries must re-orient policies expeditiously and
overcome the hurdles of initial adjustment to greater competition and other changes. If
they can overcome the challenges then they have a good chance to achieve higher and
more equitable levels of social and economic development. There is strong empirical
evidence on export-led growth and the benefits of globalization
Fair international competition is healthy for an economy in the long run, by
being a force for renewal and change, but it does alter the relative bargaining power of
firms and workers. Therefore, understanding what globalization implies for the economy
and the role of the union is a prerequisite for designing improvements in policy. It must
be recognized also that although globalization began with negotiations by sovereign
governments, technology and private entrepreneurs are now driving it and that technical
improvements in transport and communication, and consequent cost reductions, continue
to have profound effects on national economies.
Mr. Manley had the foresight to recognize the limitations of negotiation alone to
bring about favourable changes for the developing countries2 He was concerned that
leaders of the workers' movements should have a clear understanding of the realities in
which they operate. Moreover, he appreciated that these realities were not static but
constantly changing. What was "real" in the 1970's may not be relevant for the 1990's
or for the beginning of the twenty-first century. The opening and following quote testify
to this view:
The trade union movement must, therefore, begin by
understanding the environment of power within
which it operates in any economic system.... Without
that understanding, unions will find that they get as
far as the second phase of the struggle, where work-
ers' rights are defined in terms of bargaining about
the price of labour and security of job tenure as long
as the job exists, but they never have any say in the
third and final question which may be concerned with
whether the job exists at all.
A Voice at the Workplace, 1975, p. 227
Recently, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) took the lead in prepar-
ing three documents CGCED (1998a,b) and IDB/CDB (1999) on the issue of
workers and labour markets in the Caribbean. The first report is a consultant diagnostic
on workers and labour markets in the fifteen countries that make-up the Caribbean Group
for Cooperation in Economic Development (CGCED)3 Before finalizing this report, an
extensive stakeholder meeting was held in Barbados to discuss the diagnostic results and
the policy issues with national and regional leaders from the four stakeholder groups
unions, the civil society, business and government. Based on this stakeholder meeting
and after consultations with the CARICOM Labour Ministers, a policy document
(CGCED, 1998b) was prepared for presentation at the CGCED meeting in June 1998 to
representatives of Caribbean governments and donor/lending agencies.
At the request of the region, IDB then collaborated with the Caribbean Develop-
ment Bank (CDB) to organize three meetings of a Task Force with representatives of
regional organizations, including worker and business representatives. The Task Force
Report (IDB/CDB, 1999) was presented to a committee that represents the region's
interest in the CGCED and it was also placed at the Heads of Government meeting in July
1999. The Heads endorsed the report in its entirety.
This paper examines the late Manley's insights into the processes of globaliza-
tion and compares these with the findings of the above reports on Caribbean labour
markets. In particular, the paper suggests how workers' leaders need to respond to the
new challenges posed by globalization. Section II discusses the opportunities and
challenges of globalization. Section III highlights the salient features of Caribbean labour
markets at the end of the twentieth century. Section IV highlights appropriate role of
trade union leaders to maximize benefits of globalization. Section V discusses appropri-
ate role of the State in support of social and economic development. Section VI discusses
required actions in Caribbean labour markets. Finally, section VII discusses possible role
of the donor/lending agencies in helping Caribbean countries to withstand the challenges
of globalization and extract maximum benefits for social and economic development.
This section summarizes the five profiles of the IDB/CDB(1999) report.
It is also true that the First World is far better
equipped for negotiations and bargaining than the
Third World. This is partly the result of the relative
stages of development and partly the result of Third
World diversity and reluctance to create central or-
ganizations capable of collective planning and re-
search. One is driven, then, to the conclusion that
the hope for the future of the Third World lies in its
ability to commit itself to national and collective
self-reliance in a framework of regional and global
Third World cooperation.
Up the Down Escalator, p. 267
Opportunities. Globalization offers the potential to free the Caribbean, and
other developing countries, from the restrictions imposed by a relatively small domestic
market, low savings and limited access to world technology and credit the relative extent
of economic integration remains low among the middle income countries where most of
the Caribbean countries fall (Table 1).
Globalization offers an opportunity to break the vicious circle of savings and
investments, a long-standing important challenge for all developing countries. Better
education, training, technology, equipment and infrastructure in general raise living
standards. These assets are scarce not because of doubt about their benefits but because
they are expensive to acquire, particularly in developing countries short of both flows of
current saving and of accumulated past savings. In particular, globalization offers an
alternative source of domestic investment finance and a market for output. Table 2 shows
that average capital flows to developing countries have increased significantly in the
1990s while official aid fell. These flows are either portfolio (short-term) or direct
Table 1. Measure of Economic integration and Growth in Real Trade, 1986
Average ratio of Average growth
trade in goods to in real trade less
goods GDP/GNP growth in real
1986 1996 1986-96
Market economies 107.0 173.6 3.2
Low income 70.9 101.3 0.8
Low middle income 79.0 167.0 4.0
Upper middle income 94.0 126.0 4.0
High income 184.0 300.0 4.0
Source: The World Bank, World Development Indicators 1998.
Table 2. Average Private Capital Flows and Official Assistance in the 1990s
Net private capital flows Net official development assist
ance and official aid
1990 1996 1991 1996
Low income 76.3 296.7 537.6 487.7
Low middle income 451.0 2,530.0 593.0 36.0
Upper middle income 1,113.0 8,626.0 117.0 108.0
Economies in transition and socialist economies
Low income 4,062.0 25,043.0 259.0 552.0
China, P.R. 8,107.0 50,100.0 1,998.7 2,617.3
Low middle income 1,170.0 1,908.0 151.0 245.0
Upper middle income 229.0 3,278.0 580.0 249.0
Source: The World Bank, World Development Indicators 1998.
Foreign financing that is channelled through direct investment frequently comes
with attached benefits technology transfer, training, marketing networks and managerial
and technical expertise.
Foreign investment is especially attractive when it brings its own physical capital
and the means to enhance human capital of domestic citizens. Without foreign invest-
ment, countries cannot fund adequate investment in education and training, on the scale
needed to sustain growth in living standards, while simultaneously using domestic saving
to finance physical investment. The correct lesson to draw from recent crises globally is
not the danger of tapping foreign savings to finance productive direct investment but the
futility of relying on portfolio inflows to stave off needed domestic adjustments.
The contribution of inward foreign investments to skill development can also be
very significant as part of the wider culture of managers and workers. For example, after
more than a decade since Japanese car producers first set up in the UK on green field
sites, using British workers but Japanese management practices, their productivity levels
still exceed those of domestic UK car producers although the latter are now improving4
Challenges. The challenges of globalization are many First, erosion of trade
preferences and reduced availability of concessional finance are further exposing the
Caribbean economies to the full strength of international competition. The potential
adverse impact on the Canbbean economies and society from the erosion of trade
preferences should not be underestimated. For example about one-third of the region's
total merchandise exports during 1995 entered duty free in Canada, the European Union
(EU) and the US. All exports to the EU market entered duty free, and only two-thirds
in Canada and over a fifth in the US (under CBI preference only). Given the export
shares directed in these three markets from individual countries, the existing benefits to
the region are clear (see Table 3). In addition, there are additional benefits obtained from
above market prices paid for certain products such as bananas, sugar and rum in the EU
and US markets. However, these trade preferences are eroding rapidly because of the
WTO liberalization and compatibility requirements, and because of the establishment of
free trade areas such as the NAFTA. The recent WTO panel rulings on the European
Union's banana regime that favoured Caribbean over "dollar" bananas reinforces the
need to be competitive in the global market in prices. Therefore, Caribbean country
businesses must be competitive in quality and price in order to retain their market share
and perhaps increase market penetration by taking advantage of the emerging opportuni-
Second, increasing global competition is reducing job security and placing a
higher penalty on inefficiency of domestic firms, not merely on firms overtly in the export
sector but increasingly within the domestic economy as well. The root causes of
diminishing job security are a mixture of enhanced competition, developments in infor-
mation technology that have increased flexibility and ease of monitoring and communica-
tion, and technical developments in production. Skilled workers and managers no longer
require large numbers of unskilled workers in support roles. Nor is it just product and
labour markets that have become more competitive: capital markets have too. The
pressure to maximize shareholder value, and competition between global financial centres
and teams of financial service providers to demonstrate their efficiency in promoting this,
has raised stakes.
Third, the structure of the production in the region has become more service-ori-
ented, which is more immediately exposed to the impact of globalization. The biggest
structural change seems to have occurred in Barbados, where the share of the services
sector increased from 42 per cent of gross domestic product in 1970 to 70 per cent in 1990
(see IDB/CDB, 1999). Although some of the service growth is in the non-traded sectors
such as repairs and cleaning an increasing part of this growth is in the traded sectors.
The trades services sector is more immediately exposed to increased global competition.
Therefore, institutions and organizations as well as the labour market must become more
adaptable to the changing structure of the economy
Table 3. Caribbean Merchandise Exports to Canada, EU and US, 1995
(the percent of each country's total exports)
Canada European Union US
Antigua and Barbuda 21.7 23.9 6.5
Bahamas, The 2.1 41.2 27 1
Barbados 6.4 23.3 25.7
Belize 4.7 51.6 26.0
Dominica 8.4 32.6 7.4
The Dominican Republic 1.4 8.4 87.6
Grenada 0.0 43.3 20.0
Guyana 25.1 34.9 23.5
Haiti 1.1 22.1 72.6
Jamaica 7.8 24.8 45.9
St. Kitts and Nevis 4.0 28.0 48.0
St. Lucia 0.7 57.7 26.3
St.Vincent and the Grenadines 0.0 45.0 6.7
Suriname 0.0 34.1 18.8
Trinidad and Tobago 0.7 16.0 49.2
REGIONAL TOTAL 3.9 20.3 56.9
Exports (fob, US$M) 415.8 2,153.3 6,038.2
Source: IMF Directory of Statistics Yearbook, 1997
Fourth, globalization has increased mutual dependence between macro-eco-
nomic stability and good institutions and organizations, and made stability vulnerable to
volatility in financial markets. Globalization accelerated from 1989 and financial and
currency crises around the world have occurred with an accelerated pace and with
relatively more devastating impacts. Because of globalization and the associated financial
integration, policy formulation has become enormously complex and its management
complicated. For example, a country's macroeconomic fundamentals may appear sound
because of inward portfolio investments but the economy becomes vulnerable to a sudden
portfolio withdrawal. On the other hand, the macro-economic fundamentals may really
be sound and yet the economy gets adversely affected through contagion effects because
of financial integration. The Asian, Mexican and Russian crises in the 1990s provided
evidence that other countries that have sound policies are not necessarily immune from
the contagion effects and that a bad regulatory regime in one country can be exported to
the detriment of others.
Caribbean Labour Markets
In 1969, "Unemployment [in Jamaica] was 24 per
cent, having doubled since independence seven years
before. Only some 15 per cent of the island's
young ever received so much as one day's training of
any form whatsoever after leaving the primary school
system at 15 or 16 years of age. The remaining 85
per cent were condemned to poverty by their lack of
preparation for the economy which surrounded them.
Up the Down Escalator, pp. x-xi.
The type of economic strategies that have been
adopted [between 1945 and 1972] have increasingly
entrenched what is now identified as the 'two tier'
economy. More and more a group of favourably
placed industries have created an entrepreneurial and
worker aristocracy supported by rapidly increasing
salaries and wages. The rest of the economy, which
in the main means the agricultural sector along with
the unemployed, has remained stationary and often
has proved incapable of increasing salaries and wages
at a rate even commensurate with rises in the cost of
The Politics of Change, p. 89.
Obviously, major problems of unemployment cannot
be permanently cured by works programmes. Per-
manent answers must be found in the fact and nature
of economic growth and through the careful husband-
ing, cultivation and development of usable resources.
It must always be remembered that economic devel-
opment springs from no miracles. Rather, like gen-
ius, it flows from an infinite capacity for taking pains.
The Politics of Change, pp. 90-91.
It has been fascinating to observe in Jamaica how far
this social impulse has withstood the influence of a
highly sophisticated worker-management relationship
as this has emerged since 1938. There is, after all, a
certain irony in a situation where management and
trade union sit down and agree that suspension with-
out pay is a necessary and desirable deterrent to
certain kinds of action only to find that the members
of the union, and even signatories to a labour man-
agement contract, will contradict the intention of an
agreed disciplinary cause in response to a deeper
The Politics of Change, p. 151.
Most countries continue to have comparatively high unemployment, especially
among youth; tenuous links between wages and productivity that reveal inadequate
competition and weak structures of corporate governance; and, in some cases, a tradition
of conflictual industrial relations.
In particular, CGCED (1998a,b) documents noted the following conditions that
negatively impact on Caribbean countries' external competitiveness:
* Labour productivity growth has been low at best, reflecting the low productivity of
capital, qualities of infrastructure, public services, governance and the level of
wages. The low productivity also reflects the lack of an effective system to make
use of the skills distribution that already exists in each country and within the re-
* Significant migrations of skilled workers to Europe and North America have re-
duced the available pool of skilled workers in the region. However, the region can
now benefit from return migrants. Migrants make-up a pool of potential investors
and managers who have benefited from foreign training, not merely from academic
or vocational training but in the wider sense of learning on the job and assimilating
more of the global business culture.
* Labour market rigidities and poor industrial relations are common, and detrimental
to higher levels of production. Flexibility in labour legislation and government
mandated worker benefits, as well as market rigidities associated with wages and
employment, will allow businesses to compete internationally and provide a basis
for workers to have relatively more secure jobs.
* Last, but not least, despite continued high unemployment, there are shortage of
workers with high technical and managerial skills, and workers with good work
ethics. Ensuring access to high quality education and training and a more effective
use of the available skills are difficult but doable for most countries. Changing
work ethics is relatively more difficult to achieve and must start at an early age. In
the context of Jamaica, which may be generalized to the rest of the Caribbean, Mr.
In many ways the practical steps which can be under-
taken at the educational level to develop a spirit of
co-operation in children which may last them into
later life, overlap very closely the techniques which
must be employed to establish attitudes towards work
[I]t would be true to say that Jamaica has never had
a period of its history in which it has accepted the
work ethic. This is so because in the condition of
slavery, work becomes a form of torture imposed by
one group upon another. In the post-colonial period
the disproportion of economic power between the
former slave masters and the freed slaves was so great
as to create little change in the working relationship to
accompany the admittedly monumental change in the
legal relationship which had taken place. Thus, the
great majority of the Jamaican people came to the
adventure of freedom with attitudes towards work
that reflected the misery of their historical experi-
ence. Instead of work being seen as the means by
which a man expresses the creativity in himself while
he earns his daily bread or even as a healthy
necessity in the pursuit of his daily bread work is
seen as a condition imposed by a master upon a
servant as the price of the servant's survival.
The Politics of Change, p. 152.
Mr. Manley went on to say:
Obviously, a country cannot develop if there is a
neurotic attitude towards work. Rapid development
cannot be sustained by negative work attitudes.
The Politics of Change, p. 153.
Using the Jamaican example again, it is possible to change the mindset of the
workers away from their historical "neurotic attitude towards work" In the early 1990s,
Jamaican hospitality industry faced recession and businesses rebounded by retraining
workers with a more positive worker attitudes.
Role of the Trade Union Leaders
The future of the union movement has to be consid-
ered from two points of view. First of all, regardless
of any questions of social philosophy, it is obvious
that the Jamaican union movement is weak in five
areas. Firstly, it has failed to meet the organizing
challenge in extensive areas of the economy. The
second great area calling out for action is worker
housing [in Jamaica]. Thirdly, the movement has to
come to grips with the problem of wage differentials.
Fourthly, the movement has substantially failed to
recognize the special problems of women in employ-
ment. Finally, the movement must commit far more
of its resources to worker education.
A Voice at the Workplace, p. 213-215.
[The] new breed of worker takes victory in the war
against poverty for granted. Their concern is with
their exclusion from any meaningful participation in
the industry; they know that they are capable of a
meaningful contribution to decision-making and re-
sent exclusion from the process.
The Politics of Change, p. 222.
At this time the union movement should be preparing
its best minds in the disciplines of economics, statis-
tics, cost accountancy and business administration.
The movement should be challenging the political
system to accept the full implications of the demo-
cratic ideal. It should be insisting that this ideal leads
us away from the sterile divisions of the capitalist
mythology and into the creative adventure of the
socialist view of society. A huge programme of
worker education is needed, both within the trade
union movement and in society at large. Our educa-
tional process, our political institutions and our un-
ions should all be engaged in devising mass education
schemes aimed at releasing the public from its present
sense of class inferiority. The workers should be
challenged to claim freedom within the economy.
The Politics of Change, pp. 230-231.
Mr. Manley's indictment of the Jamaican trade union movement in the above
quotation is quite strong. Some of the charges remain valid, not only in the Jamaican
context but in the wider Caribbean context. Worker education, for example, is more
important today than it ever was in the developing countries. Measures to enhance
productivity offer the best defence for increased job security as well as opportunities to
prosper in the new environment. Continuing education and training, for workers and
management, can no longer be reserved for school years but must be a continuing process
within a well functioning labour market. Education and training will allow workers and
managers to find jobs as markets evolve, and they would need to be encouraged to save
so that they have the financial security to withstand periods of temporary difficulty.
Managers and workers who invest heavily in skills need adequate payback periods to
justify such investment. Increasingly, high wages will be justified only by high produc-
tivity. Union leaders and workers need to understand this inevitability.
The need for continuing education and training is reinforced by the emerging gap
between skill levels in the developed and developing countries, including the Caribbean.
For example, the gap between the middle and high income countries with respect to the
age cohorts with tertiary level education has increased from about 12 to 38 percentage
points between 1980 and 1995. Yet, this is the group that is likely to produce the skilled
workers, managers and entrepreneurs of the twenty-first century. Mr. Manley recog-
nized the need for more expanded education and retraining:
All this calls for a massive process of education. To
begin with there is the need for the re-education of
union leadership itself beginning with a new percep-
tion of fundamental relationships. This must lead, in
turn, to mass education of union membership. If this
challenge is met the union movement can become an
agent for change, second only to the political party
and in so doing can renew its early idealistic promise.
The Politics of Change, p. 177
Indeed, the old attitude of the union movement must change in the face of
globalization.Now, workers, businesses and government officials need to work together
to ensure that domestic businesses compete fairly and effectively in the global market.
Policies and programmes should be based on tripartite dialogues to improve productivity
and reduce cost, thereby contributing to higher output and more secure employment.
This tripartite dialogue is particularly important in countries with relatively politicized
trade union movement. In describing the evolution of the trade union movement in
Jamaica, Mr. Manley noted that:
...from the outset the union movement had to fight on
three fronts: it had to fight against the immediate
employer; it had to fight the power apparatus of the
state; and it had to fight the established assumptions
of public opinion. However inevitable this process
may have been, it has left its scars and created a
movement which does not easily respond to appeals
made in the national interest. Its historical experience
has left its thinking profoundly rooted in the principle
that survival depends upon the capacity to fight the
rest of the nation.
The Politics of Change, pp. 172-3.
Now, the trade union movement has to be more forward looking and look after
the well-being of its employees by ensuring that businesses remain competitive in the
global market and that they continue to invest in the workers in training and retraining
programmes. It must overcome its traditional attitude:
One has to remember always that the union move-
ment is a product of the capitalist system, and more
often than not, represents no more than an attempt by
the workers to mitigate its worst effects.
A Voice at the Workplace, p. 212.
Table 4. Average Gross Educational Enrolments, 1980 and 1995
(in per cent of the age-cohorts)
Primary Secondary Tertiary
1980 1995 1980 1995 1980 1995
Low income 77.4 81.1 18.9 25.7 2.2 3.2
Low middle income 98.0 104.0 41.0 53.0 14.0 17.0
Upper middle income 96.0 105.0 49.0 69.0 13.0 16.0
High income 103.0 103.0 82.0 105.0 25.0 48.0
Economies in transition and socialist economies
Low income 107.0 97.0 84.0 75.0 21.0 21.0
Low middle income 91.0 91.0 89.0 76.0 27.0 29.0
Upper middle income 98.0 95.0 74.0 90.0 17.0 25.0
Source: The World Bank, World Development Indicators 1998.
The role of the trade union movement extends beyond the well-being of its
On any definition, the union movement must exist for
the purpose of securing for all workers of a country
the basic conditions of a civilized existence which
must include security of employment, adequate
wages, basic protection in sickness and old age, rea-
sonable social amenities on the job and sufficient
leisure. At present, the union movement tends to
accomplish these things for those who come within
the scope of its own operations. The rest of the
working classes are either untouched by, or the vic-
tims of the process. To the extent that the union
movement acts for its own members alone, it has little
or no effect on those outside its boundaries. Far
worse, the achievements of the union movement for
the members of its own group often take place at the
expense of unorganized labour. If large contract
settlements are accompanied by increased prices of
goods which unorganized workers must buy, the re-
sult of the process is to depress the standard of living
of the unorganized to finance the progress of the
A Voice at the Workplace, p. 216
Role of the State
[A]ny strategy of economic development must begin
with a total commitment to the search for full employ-
ment. It implies that all economic planning must
begin with a concern for the engagement of human
resources. It implies, further, that the entire collec-
tive ingenuity of the society must be geared to the
creation of employment opportunities through every
available avenue. Where equality is the aim of social
organization, employment must be the central con-
cern of economic planning.
The Politics of Change, p. 90.
Globalization has increased the pay-off to an effective government. Countries
that benefit most will be those with a balanced public and private sector development.
The development literature now emphasize that the critical functions on which govern-
ments should focus are on providing an enabling environment and in dealing with those
areas in which private initiative and competitive markets alone fall short of meeting
important social goals such as poverty reduction and environmental protection. The
enabling environment includes a stable macro-economic condition, clear rules of law that
support competitive markets, an effectively functioning financial system and the essential
social and physical infrastructure.
Because of globalization, governments must facilitate improved competitiveness
for maintaining and further improving living standards. Measures required include
facilitating use of the existing skills and resources more effectively, reducing cost of
production through improvement in the efficiency of labour and product markets,6 and
raising capital stock human (educational and training), physical, social and environ-
mental to become more internationally competitive in prices and quality.
Product market competition induced by government policy of economic liberali-
zation can bring about increased competitiveness and raise export potentials. The level of
competition can be enhanced by reductions in transport and communication costs of
conducting international trade, by removal of extemal tariff barriers, and by more
vigorous application of pro-competitive policies in those domestic industries not exposed
to international competition. The implication of increased competition depends critically
on the previous degree of competition in the product market. For example, where limited
competition was coupled with substantial monopoly rents, the principal impact on the
labour market is the dissipation of these rents, for businesses and workers alike. This is
a recipe for reductions in wages and profits, rather than employment.
Competitiveness can also be improved through beneficial regulations. It is often
asserted that embracing the global economy, not least as hosts for inward foreign
investment, will drive developing countries into competitive deregulation. Insufficient
regulation, like other inadequate infrastructure, actually diminishes competitiveness.
Inadequate banking regulation induced crises in Latin America in the 1980s and in
Eastern Europe and East Asia in the 1990s. Indeed, competitiveness is undermined by
uncertainty about property rights or about enforcement of legal contracts, inability to
commit to long-term decisions, fears about environmental degradation or about safety.
Regulatory competition induced by globalization means that sovereign states have an
incentive to adopt regulations that promote social and economic development. Regula-
tory vacuums can destroy investment incentives, and promote inefficiency as well as
injustice. However, regulations that defend entrenched interests or tax capital well in
excess of the value of other infrastructure supplied will scare off inward foreign
investment. Regulations that prohibit abuse and cement the foundations for longer-run
confidence will boost productive investment and sustainable growth.
Reassessing labour market policy, and the appropriate institutions with which to
support it, entails a reassessment of the role of the Labour and Manpower Ministry itself
also. The argument for labour market reform is further reinforced by the experience that
suggests that reforms have to be comprehensive in order to derive the full benefits from
the reforms undertaken. Caribbean countries have completed reforms in privatization
and limited market liberalization, but the labour market has not been reformed. Comple-
mentary reforms that promote labour market flexibility, without lowering working
conditions, are urgently needed to achieve sustainable development.
Globalization is also reducing the economic sovereignty of countries and govern-
ments must recognize this in formulating and implementing policies. Cross-border
mobility of goods, people and tax bases will curtail the ability to arbitrarily choose any
tax rates at the national level. For example, capital is highly mobile and it is hard to tax.
In the OECD countries, tax rates on capital have fallen on the average and converged
substantially across countries. However, tax rates have not fallen to zero as countries also
supply infrastructure valuable to the operation of capital. It has become increasingly
difficult for countries to levy taxes on capital in excess of the value of the implicit services
that they supply free of charge. Since labour is less mobile than capital, cross-country
competition in relation to labour taxes is less intense. With globalization, governments
face constraints, both in relation to labour taxation and welfare provision, without
inducing substantial labour mobility and consequent movements in the tax base or in
welfare claimants. Caribbean countries will not remain immune from this trend, espe-
cially as they move toward establishing the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.
Markets can only provide incentives for innovation, cost reduction and competi-
tiveness if success is rewarded more highly than failure. This applies not merely to the
regulatory structure that affects how firms are allowed to operate but also to the extent to
which firms and workers, whether in the public or the private sector, believe their fate
lies in their own hands. Although shrewd government involvement can rectify market
failures and improve market incentives, there is sufficient evidence among public enter-
prises and the rest of the public sector in most developing countries that government
involvement can undermine productivity and performance by weakening corporate gov-
ernance. A government too ready to finance enterprise losses and accommodate commer-
cial failure can be just as detrimental as a government insufficiently committed to policies
that promote physical and human capital accumulation.
Given the weak corporate governance in the commercial sector in developing
countries, greater commitment by the government to promote competition is then an
intrinsic part of the answer. Only when there is no third party to milk will employers and
workers have to acknowledge that common efforts to enhance productivity and perform-
ance are the only way to increase revenues of the firm. Workers and their representatives
must understand that higher productivity delivers higher wages and hence the purchasing
power to buy additional and more sophisticated products. Higher incomes also make
saving easier, generating further surpluses that can be invested to raise productivity again.
A State more distant from everyday commercial concerns means not merely a reduced
perception that public funds may underpin troubled enterprises but also greater remote-
ness from wage bargaining and industrial disputes. Given the high level of politicization
among workers and their representatives in the public enterprises generally, Caribbean
country governments cannot resist intervention in public enterprises. This strengthens the
argument for privatization.
Governments must recognize also that globalization promotes effective admini-
stration because implementation of policy is now subject to competition across countries.
Countries with strong administration are likely to promote an effective infrastructure for
business development, gain larger market share and have even more resources with which
to run their administration effectively. With the inevitable decline in the present level of
donor support, the pressure on the Caribbean governments will increase to pay greater
attention to this cross border competition.
Govement's role in coordinating private actions has increased, not decreased.
This role entails establishing appropriate and effective institutions and organizations and
provision of common infrastructure that no individual producer would have sufficient
incentive to supply. Good governance requires not merely that the State attempts to
undertake this function, but that it regularly monitors how well this function is being
Finally, globalization also shifts the balance between two different aims of
economic policy: enhancing national output and securing a fairer division of it. Greater
competition reduces the monopoly surpluses potentially available for taxation and redis-
tribution, more mobile tax bases reduce the tax rates that can be levied without adverse
consequences on revenues. These developments raise the cost of direct measures that
redistribute but raise the benefit of measures that improve infrastructure physical,
human, environment and social capital and thereby enhance productivity and competi-
tiveness. Hence the conclusion that globalization increases the penalties on bad policies
but enhances the payoff to good ones. The focus on improving infrastructure should not
be viewed as bad for redistribution either. There is strong empirical evidence that
sustainable growth remains the most reliable route to alleviation of both absolute and
relative poverty. Nevertheless, All governments have a responsibility to ensure equity
and poverty reduction for the segment of the society rendered more vulnerable in the new
competitive environment. Although successful reform strategies can alter the political
balance and improve the way public institutions and organizations operate, they can also
have negative impact on some. The vulnerable groups are those individuals or commu-
nities that face severe poverty constraints, and therefore are not able to respond to the new
incentives or structures through which public goods are being delivered.
CGCED (1998b) concluded that there is a critical need in the region to improve
skill levels and its flexibility to cope with market demand and technology changes; expand
high-paid employment opportunities without which skills development will be a waste;
undertake institutional reforms to allow for labour market flexibility and job creations;
improve industrial relation management to reduce industrial strikes and generally improve
conditions for improved productivity growth; and strengthen statistical agencies and their
analytical capacities to provide timely information and analysis for the policy makers.
The CGCED report identified five programme areas and indicated possible next
steps. Programme 1, national skills development, needed to empower presently em-
ployed as well as the unemployed to develop and continuously upgrade skills that will
make them competitive individually and raise the overall supply of skilled labour in the
economy which will attract businesses demanding high-paid, high skilled labour. Pro-
gramme 2, business development, to be implemented simultaneoulsy with the previous
programme and aimed at expanding high-paid employment opportunities by facilitating
business formation in general and expansion of micro- and small enterprises in particular,
as well as by attracting expatriates as investors.
Programme 3, institutional development and strengthening programme, to un-
dertake institutional reforms including developing productivity-enhancing compensation
schemes in private and public sectors, and facilitating more effective use of the skills
distribution that already exists in each country and through development of a regional
labour market information system. Programme 4, dispute resolution programme, to
improve industrial relation's management with a view to promoting co-operative
industrial relations and efficient resolution of conflicts between workers and employers.
Programme 5, strengthening of analytical and statistical capacities, to improve policy
making by improving timely collection of information and strengthening of analytical
skills in the national statistical offices with a view to identifying and developing areas of
needed policy changes.
Role of the Donor/Lending Agencies
Key stakeholders in the Caribbean region were closely involved in identifying
the preceding five programmes. A sub-group of the stakeholders subsequently met in
Barbados three times to consider these preceding recommendations and develop more
elaborate project profiles to be implemented at national and regional levels to better
prepare the Caribbean countries for the multifaceted extemal changes taking place. These
deliberations led to proposing five projects to be implemented in sequence (see Figure 1)
and in all of which the trade union movement has a role to play The region can fund
these projects out of their own resources or seek support from donor/lending agencies.
Figure 1: Schematic Presentation of Programmes to maximize Benefits of
Public Awareness Programme: Challenges and Opportunities for Globalization
Institutional Reforms to Industrial Relations: Dispute
support greater labour market Resolution Programmes
Strengthening of Programme to
National Statistical promote Per-
Agencies and formance-
Development of Based
National and Re- Incentives
gional Labour m
Skill Development: Employment Generation:
Widening and Deepening of Skill L> Promotion of Business Develop-
Development ment in Relation to Globalization
Public Awareness Programme: Challenges and Opportunities of globalization.
Globalization and conscious moves to enhance regional integration will lead to dramatic
changes in the environment faced by labour market participants. To effectively respond,
wise choices, and hence deeper understanding of globalization and its implications, are
required by the wider society and its political representatives. For example, within
previously protected markets much of the conflict between workers and firms reflected
struggle for shares of the domestic output whose size was largely fixed. Globalization will
increase the pay-off to co-operation between firms and their work-forces in which
investment in productivity-enhancing changes improve competitiveness. Therefore, ex-
plaining the opportunities as well as the dangers is the best way to ensure that Caribbean
citizens respond positively and vigorously to the challenges.
Institutional Reforms to Support Greater Labour Market Efficiency. This pro-
gramme has two components. The first is to strengthen national statistical agencies and
develop national and regional labour market information systems. Its components in-
cluded institutional and organizational capacity of national statistical agencies to collect
and process the relevant information in a timely fashion; labour market information
systems nationally, subregionally within the OECS and regional at the CARICOM level
for more skilled workers; and strengthening of the Labour Ministries themselves to make
them capable of discharging their new roles in the labour markets.
The second component is to develop programmes to promote performance-based
incentives in order to improve competitiveness through increased productivity enhance-
ment. This recognizes that labour market efficiency will be boosted not merely by new
infrastructure to assist the matching of skills and vacancies as proposed earlier but also by
new institutions that foster better incentives to be productive. This necessarily means a
closer relationship between pay and productivity that will alter the entire culture at the
Industrial Relations: Dispute Resolution Programme. Globalization has raised
the pay-off to policies that improve industrial relations, whether by preventing disputes
through greater transparency, trust and commitment, or by providing more effective
procedures for mediating disputes once they have arisen.The proposed programme
objectives are to improve the investment climate and productivity through reduced labour
disruption by upgrading the existing industrial relations system and by facilitating
inter-enterprise dispute settlements. It will also train a cadre of mediators whose services
will be available throughout the region.
Skill Development: Widening and Deepening of Skill Development. A deliberate
strategy of skill enhancement to attract and retain good jobs is an appropriate response to
globalization. The objective of the programme is to equip workers and managers with the
skills needed for businesses to compete effectively and efficiently in an increasingly
Employment Generation: Promotion of Business Development in Relation to
Globalization. Job opportunities must be available if training and skill formation are to
inter-enterprise dispute settlements. It will also train a cadre of mediators whose services
will be available throughout the region.
Skill Development: Widening and Deepening of Skill Development. A deliberate
strategy of skill enhancement to attract and retain good jobs is an appropriate response to
globalization. The objective of the programme is to equip workers and managers with the
skills needed for businesses to compete effectively and efficiently in an increasingly
Employment Generation: Promotion of Business Development in Relation to
Globalization. Job opportunities must be available if training and skill formation are to
expand in a desirable manner. At present, unemployment rates are high in the Caribbean
countries, traditional industries are under pressure, and previous levels of protection,
which sustained many jobs in inefficient enterprises, are now falling. The proposed
programme will facilitate business development and expansion to absorb skilled workers
and managers particularly through assistance to the micro-, small and medium-sized
See, for example,
2. [O]ne is forced to conclude that the prospects for significant change through negotiation are remote."
Up the Down Escalator, p. 110.
3. The CGCED is made up of 14 CARICOM countries as well as the Dominican Republic. Of the CARI-
COM countries, 12 are English-speaking (Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Do-
minica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and
Trinidad and Tobago); the other countries are Haiti and Suriname.
4. Therefore, where such firms offer genuine training and skill development, rather than the mere utilization
of raw domestic labour, there is a case for generous but transparent tax treatment of such firms.
5. Several countries have return migrant programmes with different degrees of success and others are examin-
ing them for possible replications. For example, between 1990 and 1994, about 20,000 engineers and
managers with graduate degrees and varying length of working experiences abroad returned to Taiwan
and they became an important source of Taiwan's technological development. Of the 150 companies in
the Hsinchu Science Park in 1994, return migrants set up 73. These entrepreneurs were able to tap into
the extensive network of Taiwanese scientists and engineers working in the high technology sector in the
US. They also reportedly took substantial salary and benefit cuts, although by mid-1990s it had risen to
about 30 to 40 per cent less than in the US.
6. For example, removal of regulations that inhibit access and entry of new competitors (e.g., electricity, tele-
communication, gas and sanitation), reduction in transport and other infrastructure costs, and promotion
of incentives in public and private sectors to reward success highly than failures.
Historicising Conversations with Michael Manley
HILARY McD. BECKLES
Thank you Mr. Chairman (Vice Chancellor, the Hon. Rex Nettleford). Rt. Hon.
P.J. Patterson, Prime Minister of Jamaica, Rt. Hon. Hugh Shearer, Ministers of Govern-
ment and other members of Parliament, Excellencies, Mrs. Manley and other members
of the Manley family, other members of the platform, colleagues, students, distinguished
ladies and gentlemen, good evening.
I should begin, as it is now fashionable to do in Jamaica, with the declaration of
an intention to make a public confession. It is, however, of a non-political kind, and may
more interest the Manley family, Marva Phillips our host, and the Prime Minister, than
the good Father Taylor who so eloquently blessed this event.
It is this. I am standing here feeling rather like an imposter a sort of resident
alien, as the Americans would say, because I do not consider myself qualified to meet the
requirements of this prestigious event. I am indeed both humbled and overwhelmed by
this request. Fully aware that the act of speaking invokes the desire to be heard, I feel
myself more prepared for a whispering mode even though it is clear that such an
approach will simply not do.
In an intensely private way, though, I feel at the same time enormously blessed
and challenged by the opportunity to grapple with the genius of a very sizeable man
who I admired and discovered that I cared for. I am grateful for this moment and the
sentiment it conjures. I would like to thank Marva and other organizers for the generosity
of their consideration.
It would be appropriate at the outset to present my terms of reference by saying
something about the moment we currently occupy. Audiences the world over, in
academic institutions and through the public media, are being told by political philoso-
phers and social theorists that we are fashioning the post-colonial phase of a post-modern
world. Furthermore, that this moment is about the fracturing/dismemberment/explo-
sion/discredit/retreat and abandonment of most of the many things long held sacrosanct.
We are told also that for a very long time we have been gripped by the illusory
gaze of something misleadingly called objective reality, and that 'history' is a myth, good
fiction at best, but ultimately no more than personalized construction of conceptual
representations that serve the special interest of empowered 61ites.
I have chosen to open this door to the discourse for one simple reason. It is
because I know that I would soon be hearing the cogs of Michael's mind clicking in an
effort to respond with the nuance and the sensitivity of his sage-like manner. This is all
fine and well for my purposes.
I will now invite you to eavesdrop on the unfinished conversations I have had
with Michael Manley over the last few years of his life. These conversations took place
at a time when the urgent task of tracking and re-centering the trajectory of West Indies
cricket culture threw us together on a joint mission with our respective telescope, map and
compass. This is where we started; we would digress but always kept a clear focus on
the 'centre' issue.
I will do the following:
1) use my imagination to interrogate the texts of conversations I have had with Michael
about history, cricket, comparative Caribbean politics, and the inner logic and aesthetic
of Caribbean civilization in order to extract subjective meanings about the nature of the
2) disagree with the post-modern conception of 'history' as fiction, and speak about
Michael's uses for the Caribbean historical process as it informed politicized popular
consciousness and generated energy for social agency.
I will do these things in order to 'historicise' Michael while reflecting on how
his intellectual agility interacted with his political instincts in order to produce a mentality
that insisted upon transformative action as the principal expression of public being.
While I do this please be assured that when I invoke the term 'Joshua', or use
excessively the name Michael, it is not my intention to convey any disrespect It is that I
have a difficulty a certain blockage of the mind that prevents me from saying easily
Professor the Hon. Ralston Nettleford, rather than Rex, or the Hon. Percival Patterson,
rather than P.J. These are expressions of endearment, a kind of domestication if you
will, and it is important to me that this much is understood and accepted.
The question of the subjectivity of knowledge the so-called private journey of
the soul is critical to all of what I have to say. How and why individual spirits meet and
bond is a subject beyond my full comprehension. I will therefore confine myself to the
socio-political landscape on which I understood their interaction, and the temporal
intersections of public discourse.
I will begin boldly with my first public Jamaican action. It is voting day of the
awesome 1980 election. I find myself walking through Papine, into a scene that
reminded me then of Gary Cooper's film High Noon. My intention was to do the near
impossible to stand firm in a militant contest that was clearly designed to remove
Manley from the Prime Ministership.
It was clear to me why I crossed the University compound against the wishes of
the sane, to a sound tract of gun fire, in order to exercise my newly discovered
franchise in support of Joshua. In my imagination the rationale was arranged along these
I was born in a Barbados plantation village, the progeny of imprisoned workers,
and was socialized as an infant by the full reality of this oppressive world. My family was
trapped within its grasp, and could invent no lasting escape strategy. My great grandfa-
ther had done a stint on the Panama Canal before World War I; my grandfather had
worked as a sugar 'hand' in Cuba for the United Fruit Company but returned to cut the
canes on at least 5 backra-man plantations during his very long life.
In 1959, my father, seeing a little opening, abandoned the village and the
plantation that fed it and fled to England as did thousands of Jamaicans faced with the
same circumstance. He took up residency in Birmingham City where our family was
reconstituted, mother first and then one sibling at a time in the order of seniority. The
migration from field to factory was an internal one in many respects, and when as a youth
it was my turn to go forth into a mega-city that was much bigger than the entire island
left behind (a very disturbing fact in itself) I had no way of knowing or feeling if it meant
the flight from tradition an irretrievable break with the plantation past.
I felt the same inner blues on the streets of Birmingham as I did in the fields of
Barbados, only maybe the notes were a little sharper and more defined. There were the
same sort of noises, the pressure of being in the grip of an intense power, a pounding
between the ears a flattening of the future I was told was awaiting me outside the range
of ancestral constraints.
Initially, despite these happenings, all was well, or so I thought. And then, like
Columbus, I discovered some rather strange people, unfamiliar in every way, who would
say things like, 'I man is a Jamaican, and I na stand for dis' I heard a defiant sound
that rose above the surface with a sharpness that was not prepared to accept that racist
street gangs could wreak havoc in our brand new community with impunity
My own island cohort had sought shelter and protection in the church; that was
the answer that seemed to us all logical and historically consistent. The Jamaicans spoke
a different language; I heard about battling against 'Babylon' standing firm, and the
righteousness of self-defence.
I crossed the rubicon, joined the vanguard, supported the resistance, internalized
the culture and philosophy of the small axe, and troop the colours (black, gold and
green). In 1979, then, when I entered UWI at the Mona Campus as a rooky History
Lecturer, standing firm was an established part of the tradition I had embraced; thus the
journey of my soul to Papine.
Many years later, 1994 to be precise, the road to Papine theme was quietly
played in a conversation with Michael. I had invited him to deliver the inaugural Sir
Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture at the Cave Hill Campus of UWI in Barbados. By then
he really wasn't well, but I pressed him. I told him of my journey in 1980, and hinted
in fact to the idea that he owed me one! With the wickedest wit which we all know he
possessed he replied,"I suppose, Hilary, under the circumstances one losing cause
By that time I was no longer resident in Jamaica. Driven by my research interest
I had returned to Barbados in 1985. It was a strange sort of 'home coming' having been
away for more than half my life. But there I immediately threw my support behind 'the
voices in the work place' These were the voices I knew and had always been attuned to;
they were my ancestral sounds, and I wished to know how to speak for them. I could
think of no other craft or path.
As expected, the local 'landed' forces did what they have always done; I was
branded a Manley emissary sent to Barbados to shower chaos on the society, devaluations
upon the currency, and pokomania and kumina upon the high church. To boot, I had
brought with me a wife from the said place which really aggravated my case as half
of the political elite were possessed of Jamaican wives, including Prime Minister
Sandiford, the Leader of the Majority Opposition, Owen Arthur, and the Leader of the
Minority Opposition, Richie Haynes; and Dame Nita, our beloved Governor General, had
declared herself a local 'Nanny of the Maroons'
The calypsonians also did what they had to do; I was listed among a 'posse' of
deviants in a song whose chorus affirmed that Jamaican women in Barbados really do
rule things, and that this was the only innovative 'Bajan Model' of political economy we
could speak about. If at the moment you really want to press this point, herein lies a
sub-text of Prime Minister Arthur's speech on the 'Bajan Model' delivered here on the
Mona Campus a few weeks ago.
More seriously, though, the comparison of Jamaica's predicaments and Bar-
bados' particulars, was a matter that Michael and I discussed at length. He was as
captivated by the Caribbean historical process as he was stimulated by modern political
theory. This is why the architecture of his political ideology was so deeply and completely
informed by concepts such as social justice, development, freedom, self-empowerment,
change and progress.
The marriage of moral philosophy and political action within Michael's ideology
served to satisfy his desire to find the 'centre' of consciousness within society. The sole
purpose of the conceptual exercise was to effectively transform what 'is' into what should
'be' To do so meant that he had to see and understand the Jamaican picture within and
beyond the accepted frames of reality. The depth of his political thinking and obsession
with historical research methods reflected this intellectual approach; an unequivocal
belief that you had to 'know' in order to 'act' and that the process of knowing carried
with it the responsibility of 'doing'
I once told him that in all his postures he presents himself as a curious but not
peculiar mixture of the enlightenment rationalist and the subversive romantic. Rational-
ist in the sense that he believed without reservation in the idea of social transformation
and democratic progress, and with a kind of messianic religiosity associated with present
day believers in the scientific validity of 'Strategic Plans'.
As always, his responses were measured and mindful of the nature of his own
life objectives. He would say that without belief you could not act; this was not for him
a matter of falling into the faith. Rather, it had to do with the realization that without
belief you were locked outside of history, that is, modernity, and trapped within the
darkness of a place called tradition.
I would use this polarity of tradition and modernity to challenge Michael to
explore the idea of a centre the element that defines, but neither imprisons nor liberates
popular identity when in political motion. A tension, I realized, existed in his thinking on
this issue largely because for him 'tradition' had two distinct personalities; it was a place
you had to leave behind, and yet somehow it was an idealised object carried within the
soul for reference just in case, somewhere, you were lost in the dash to development.
Michael would agree, in part, never fully, to the discursive point that tradition is
a kind of luggage we have not yet learnt how to carry without looking or sounding
'bhutto' on the one hand, or condescending on the other. This predicament I would like
to argue resides at the core of Jamaican notions of self; Professor Nettleford has explored
this concept in unique and perceptive ways in his many written and oral texts, and there
is no need therefore for me to go there.
Michael was a subversive romantic in the sense that he believed there was an
irrepressible 'spirit', a 'cultural' energy that could not be domesticated, but was required
to give life to the five-year plan. This life force had to be liberated, freed up, and put to
work in the nation-building project. As an outsider-insider I should tell you that I feel a
'force' each time I arrive at Norman Manley Airport; it fills the air with sound, vibrates
objects within its range, and defines internally and externally, I am told, what is meant to
Michael, of course, sought to ride both these horses in the same race. He
understood and was deeply anxious about the desire to see Jamaica develop its rationalist
reflex. Yet he believed to the depth of his being that Jamaica had to liberate its romantic
spirit that should not be confined by the Blue Mountains nor find expression only beyond
Palisadoes. For him Jamaica had two discernible spirits two contesting souls within the
body politic; the battle had to be waged and settled.
There were several discussions in which we historicised this seemingly dichoto-
mous, divided self, against the backdrop of the enterprise of nation-building. This was
always done within the framework of a desire to understand what is Caribbeanness how
is Caribbean civilization constituted, and how best to manufacture a relevant politic for
both social liberation and economic development.
In these musings he was as fascinated with Barbados' history and politics as I am
with Jamaica's. Barbados was always there in the background, in a strange sort of way,
maybe because he was unsure about how to define or imagine it. For sure he was no
believer in the theory of cultural exceptionalism.
He once asked me whether in Barbados we have a case of the triumph of the
rational over the romantic, and whether we have with Jamaica the reverse? In Barbados.
he said, 'the train seems to run on time', so to speak, and this is greatly to be desired
even if the destination is not the place that one would wish to find oneself. I would
respond by saying, occasionally with a little dryness, that it is marvellous to know
therefore that the return trip will also be on time.
How is it, he wanted to know, that Afro-Barbadians could for so long aggres-
sively maintain the iconography of 'Little England'- Bimshire while Afro-Jamaicans
frantically sought after the spirits of Ashanti and Mandingo? Every black Bajan, he
noted, as black as you could find, boasts an English or Scottish ancestor, while Jamaicans
heartily believe that they derive from a mythic warrior nation in Africa.
The two questions, of course, are related, and come back to the notion of the
divided self, multiple identities, and the search for paths of escape. I would conclude that
while the comparisons are real and revealing, the historical fact is that there is as much
Bajan in the Jamaican as there is Jamaican in the Bajan. Let me explain.
A point of celebratory convergence, of course, is cricket culture. I once said to
Michael, what do you make of the fact that George Headley the greatest was the
product of a Bajan paternal mentality and Jamaican maternal consciousness discovering
each other on the Panama Canal as migrant workers both participants (with baby
George) in the largest industrial project of modernity the region has undertaken?
Jamaica claims Headley as only a mother can embrace her natural son; Barbadi-
ans, not contesting the claim, would merely wish to add that his genius was in the genes
- the paternal ones that mothers nourish and cultivate. Where do we go from here with
this? What does it all mean this double identity, this making of a Caribbean prodigy?
Is there something to be said about the Bajan method so critical to the craft of
batsmanship, and the Jamaica art and style so vital to its perfection and appreciation? Do
we not see in Headley a metaphor that represents the merging of the rational and the
romantic? Is he not 'us' plural within the singular? The meaning of Caribbeanness!
You may very well wonder if such a conversation was too well endowed with the
light touch of the imagery of virtual visions. On reflection, I think that they relate to
very important issues within Caribbean history and culture that are often overlooked and
denied the opportunity to inform policy and research agendas. Do you really believe, for
example, that Headley who became in 1948 the first black man to lead the West Indies
cricket team (composed of gentlemen of property, education, and whiteness) though only
for one match, got the opportunity to stage the moment of liberation in Barbados by an
Why not John Goddard, Gerry Gomez or Jeff Stollmeyer, the ranking whites
who all played? Why Barbados, and why did the Bajan masses celebration around the
clarion call that their boy had broken ground home ground. Members of the Bajan
Headley clan were there; people said that he always had his father's ways but his mother's
manner meaning in the Barbadian vernacular that he was good looking and moved
gracefully like a Jamaican woman but disciplined and methodical like a Bajan man. All
of this is critical. When you are at the crease the concept of looking good is as important
as being good. If you are not looking good you would not be seen, and would have no
way, at least philosophically, of proving that you are there.
To understand Headley, I once told Michael, is to understand the First Maroon
War that was fought in the Blue Mountains 200 years ago. The historical connection is
well documented but not much known. Jamaica, as you all know, was captured from the
Spanish in 1655 by an English posse recruited in Barbados the previous year by
Cromwell's Generals Penn and Venables.
Initially, the Bajan ruling class objected to the loss of some 2,000 men from the
labour force and militia, but soon saw the benefits in having access to an open frontier.
Once the battle was won and the dust had settled, the task of convening Jamaica into a
politically stable but expansive sugar plantation economy fell to the Barbadian planters,
the pioneers of the sugar plantation model in the Caribbean.
Only the Barbadian sugar magnates could have done this job at the time. They
alone had the finances, access to slaves and slave management knowhow, and how to
combine them to maximum effect. The project was led by Colonel Thomas Modyford, a
very successful Barbadian, who claimed that he had raised the largest fortune on the
island from a 100 with which be arrived on the island from England in 1647.
He was appointed Governor of Jamaica in 1664 and brought near 1,000 whites
and 2,000 slaves from Barbados. He also brought over the laws, militia systems, and the
culture of Assembly politics. Henry Morgan, on the other side, had also hailed from
Barbados; he had broken his indenture contract there and taken to sea to avoid the law.
The task of Governor Modyford, and his son, was to implement what was known
throughout the colonial world as the 'Barbados model' sugar and slavery
Modyford ruled Jamaica with an iron fist between 1664-1671. He brought in all
the 'big boys' from Barbados including sugar pioneer such as Richard Guy, Thomas
Sutton, William Drax and Richard Beckford. He allocated to them over 300,000 acres of
prime sugar land in St. Andrew, St. Catherine, and Clarendon. The Modyford clan held
over 10,000 acres in 8 parishes.
The other side of the 'Bajan' model, however, was the importation of Barbadian
slaves who knew the sugar technology, from its agricultural aspects to the sugar mill.
These blacks saw in Jamaica a greater opportunity to revolt; many did so and fled to the
mountains there to join the Maroon resistance.
The Minutes of the Jamaican Assembly for the 1660s carry some interesting
references to this political development. We are told that the blacks brought from
Barbados had committed several felonies, murders, and other plunders, for which the
House saw it fit to forbid their future import, as they had proven to be of a violent and
The whites from Barbados, then, brought their version of the Bajan model, and
the blacks theirs. They were contradictory and remain so to this day. The point of all
this is to show that the destinies of the two societies have long been intertwined, and that
they belong to the same historical process.
What did it mean to be a Barbadian/Jamaican in the context of building Maroon
resistance in the 17th century? The whites saw themselves as Englishmen overseas and
the blacks as enslaved Africans ripped from their homelands. In these early years island
geography had not assumed any significance for identity and cultural self-perception.
There was greater clarity on the issue.
I will return to these twist of history as I seek to set out how Jamaican and
Barbadian identities were later constructed and politicized within a framework of
decolonization and nation-building. I wish to say a few things about the conceptual
instruments we generally use, and which were available to Michael in defining the tone
and texture of Jamaica's political culture. The ones I wish to look at are: freedom and
sovereignty; nation-state and nation-hood; development and progress; and social justice
In everything Michael wrote and said he clearly understood that Jamaica, and the
Caribbean, were firmly located within what by the 19th century became known as the
'West' In fact, he argued, like C.L.R. James, that the Caribbean was not just a product
of the 'West' but that the 'West' was invented in the Caribbean. He was, of course,
correct, and his politics flowed from this concept.
The 'West' was a post-Columbus project, built around the Atlantic and with the
Enlightenment dream of a new beginning in the Americas. Europe discovered itself first
in the Caribbean, and in the process invented white supremacy and cultural arrogance as
imperial technologies. The 'West', as brand name for the new Atlantic civilization, rising
from the Caribbean encounter, was riddled with tensions and contradictions. They made
Barbados and then Jamaica and the wider region, a hell for native and African people but
a mercantile dreamscape for themselves.
Consumption and ownership of the Caribbean pie stimulated Europe's desire,
and produced new levels of self-confidence, cultural freedom and social barbarism.
Whites found new expressions for their imagination, and secured sufficient wealth and
power to make real what they imagined. The discovery of self, and the production of
whiteness culminated in a scenario of genocide for natives and universal chattel slavery
The home of these crimes against humanity was the plantation, a revolutionary
economic institution that produced economic wealth at hitherto unimaginable levels.
Merchant banking, sugar production, global trade, high finance and sexual plunder,
drove the system while Parliamentary politics the colonial version created the
legitimizing context. The American and Haitian Revolutions on the west side of the
Atlantic, however, spoke to the original dream of freedom and justice in the east Atlantic.
The 'jet-white' version of the European dream, honed by the rule of rampant
masculinity and the tyranny of private property, was realized in the horrific theatrics of
elitism, sexism, and racism that now terrorize civic society in Jamaica and the wider
region. It is a terrible history, but it is ours and we have to learn to live with it by riding
simultaneously both horses. For Michael, Barbados was cantering and Jamaica gallop-
ing but in the same race. You simply cannot jump off the historical track, he thought,
though I suspect he believed that you can straighten a few corners and adjust the pace.
But while Michael accepted that Jamaica was endemically a part of the 'West',
he recognized that it was located in the 'south' of this 'West', hence the geometry of his
politic that sought a relocation to the 'west' of the 'West' This was really his prime
project. He wanted to discover a path of escape from the south and a point of entry to
the west. This, in fact, is the vision of post-colonial capitalist development, sanitized and
humanized at the level of civic society by the language and politics of social justice and
He was intrigued by the Barbados process. This society, he thought, never
allowed its social and psychic divisions to implode. In fact he believed that Barbadians
did not recognize, publicly at least, that such divisions were of any primary significance
with respect to planning and imagining the 'nation' I would jerk him into historicising
these perceptions by drawing attention to the specifics of the historical process.
In Barbados the white elite transformed itself from slave owners with planta-
tions, to plantation owners with merchant houses, to merchants with hotels, to hoteliers
with offshore finance/real estate/operations. White power was the continuing force even
though the types of whites changed over time. They managed as a caste to maintain a
power source at the 'centre' that effectively set the parameters of social change.
The blacks slaved for them, then laboured for them, and now manage their
stores, hotels, and provide good political governance within which they could accumulate
on a grand scale. The island, of course, had its domestic ethnic quarrels, but each time
after fisticuffs were exchanged a sense of order and tranquillity was restored.
Slaves revolted in 1816 for freedom. Whites won the contest and executed
blacks at random until the Governor intervened and put a halt to the pillage; they then
proceeded to write the narrative of the event in terms that described how they were
shocked and betrayed by their loyal servants. When the descendants of these said slaves
revolted in 1937 in an effort to secure an emancipation from below, the small black
middle class that had escaped the estates apologized to whites for the conduct of those left
Michael, of course, was deeply sensitive to the social construction of his
historicised identity. Labelled socially as a Jamaican brown man he understood the
divided political roles his ascribed group had played on both sides of the ideological
spectrum. He was not flattered by comparisons with William Gordon who had broken
with the conservatives of this group and thrown his support behind the radical black
movement. He saw Gordon's politics as narrowly interventionist rather than broadly
programmatic, organizationally and ideologically rooted in the struggle within the work
He did not accept that he had broken with any historically cohesive social cohort,
but thought that he was seeking to lead and build a coalition, a nationalist alliance for
development with community self-reliance and empowerment. His politics recognized
the internal divisions of society but he believed in the creative management of social
tensions and contradictions.
The depth and disguises of Caribbean brown man politics, however, are still
critical to the comparative analysis of the two societies. I was always keen to foreground
this fact in our debate about the breaks placed on black empowerment and the forms these
took. The Barbados 'coloured' group, also as a privileged category, developed no
political identity or force within the colonial period, neither in the slavery era nor the post
emancipation dispensation. It remained a small, marginalized group, deeply intimidated
by the racist wrath of the white elite. They knew their place, and kept it; they were
grateful for the concessions granted them, protected these liberties, and were subservient
in their appreciation.
In Jamaica, on the other hand, the free coloured community out-numbered the
whites, felt their greater demographic power and threatened the political 61ite to grant
them equal rights and privileges against the backdrop of the possibility of a black-col-
oured revolutionary alliance. White elite society despised them, but worked with them
in order to keep the status quo meaning slavery and black oppression.
The Jamaican legislature in the mid-18h century debated and approved what
became known as 'the Brown Privilege Laws. These provisions allowed coloured men of
property and education to petition parliament on an individual basis for equal rights with
whites. In this way coloured men were admitted to elite society as honorary whites. By
the time of general emancipation they had sufficient reason to believe that it was the
'brown man's time to rule'
In Barbados no such development took place. Whites remained firmly in
charge; their Jamaican counterparts could not hold it together, and the top opened to new
social groups. In Barbados the white elite dug in, consolidated, and ruled with aggression
and certainty. They kept the plantation model firmly intact, accepted no peasant
possibility, while in Jamaica radical reforms and landownership patterns resulted from
the destabilization caused by emancipation. Here, 'brown man politics' emerged as a new
force. The rise of a black peasantry generated its own franchise, and created a new
brown-black electoral culture that remains evident today.
The 'long' 18h century was an important moment for both societies and defined
the contours of their internal political relations. It was of course the zenith of plantation
slavery in the subregion, and witnessed the display of all its contradictory tendencies.
During this time there was not one slave rebellion in Barbados; in Jamaica they were
endemic, coming like the rain and the cane in the sequence of seasons. Jamaica was in
a state of civil war while Barbados was developing a non-violent civil society based on
white race oppression and black strategic compliance within a culture of negotiations and
The Jamaican fought slavery to the death and paid a dear price in terms of human
life and suffering. They were prime carriers of the enlightenment vision of freedom and
justice and sought to realize in concrete ways the philosophies associated with modernity.
Yet, at emancipation, by all the indices used to define and measure living standards, they
were behind the Barbadians who over the long haul had adopted a less militant, more
conciliatory approach to betterment and freedom.
Barbados in the closing decades of slavery was the only slave society in the
region where generations of the black population had been growing naturally, and quite
rapidly. Blacks in Jamaica suffered persistent endemic natural decline, and were trapped
therefore on the genocidal path. Travellers through the region, such as William Dickson
the abolitionist, said in the 1780's that blacks in Barbados enjoyed many 'freedoms' and
liberties that their Jamaican counterparts could not contemplate.
In return for less day to day militancy, slave owners in Barbados gave their
blacks greater social concessions. They were rewarded for their conciliatory approach
which in fact was the result of being crushed militarily during the early period. This is
another aspect of the 'Bajan model' that Michael and I debated. The price for confronting
and exploding the contradictions of the plantation economy system was paid dearly by
the Jamaican poor; the benefits, no matter how small as socio-material concessions, went
to the Barbadians for adopting most of the time a non-violent strategy of negotiation.
At emancipation, then, the white 61ite of Barbados rationalized the plantation
system and emerged more efficient, productive and profitable than in the closing years of
slavery. Emancipation served them very well in that it allowed innovative entrepreneurs
to purge their estates of ineffective surplus workers, streamline management in a
down-sizing operation, and achieve greater output and productivity. In Jamaica, how-
ever, the ruin and abandonment in the sugar sector led to social restructuring that enabled
blacks to secure land and redefined themselves as peasants and small farmers.
In Barbados, blacks were effectively locked out of the land market, kept to the
lowest wages in the region (6 pence per day compared with 15 pence per day in Jamaica),
and forced to experience the meanest deal that emancipation could possibly offer.
Emancipation led to neo-slavery no choices, more of the same, a more sophisticated
form of tyranny The post-slavery economy grew but with black disenfranchisement as
the norm growth without equity and justice.
The Jamaican economy on the other hand declined, but blacks secured land,
reinvented themselves as a landowning class, rooted their culture within independent
villages, and challenged the social order at all levels as they had done during slavery.
Here, as a result, there was always an alternative model and mentality for the majority
hence the freedom of spirit, independence, and romanticism of which Michael spoke.
In Barbados there was persistent white hegemonic domination, a stifling sense of
closure and of exclusion. The only alternative to liberation after receiving the landless
'emancipation from above' was emigration. They fled to the four corners of the
Caribbean seeking liberation.
In Jamaica they taught Latin; they took Methodism to the Virgin Islands and
Trade Unionism to Guyana. Recently we heard, to my eternal shame, that they took the
steel band and calypso to Trinidad and ran a brutal police force in the Caymans and St.
Vincent. They are now either respected or ridiculed wherever they go in the region.
While, then, Jamaicans built the identify of the new nation upon the romanticism
of the spirit of liberty and freedom, and established an official pantheon for the heroes
from the indigenous revolutionary movement, Barbados chose to construct images of
nationhood by retaining the colonial iconography that included the idea of 'Little
England' The Independence development model contained the assumptions that:
(1) blacks would manage the political process they had fought for and won;
(2) Whites would manage the economy which they had built and maintained;
(3) the State would manage the tensions and contests that followed from this
model, particularly as they relate to ethnicity. Blacks were kept from the Board rooms of
white owned companies, and whites were kept out of the elected House of Parliament.
The boundaries were drawn. This was the alliance for progress.
Michael was never sure if this Barbadian model constituted extreme repression,
a Caribbean homegrown apartheid, deepest alienation, or a strategic, rational, approach
to post-colonial development. My task in Barbados in the late 1980's, as an activist
historian, was to challenge the legitimacy of this model, and to force a rethink in search
of new concepts of democratic, multi-ethnic participation. It seemed to me at the time
that those who ruled did not govern, and that neither the 'state' nor 'capital' should have
exclusive ethnic identities and ownership.
In Jamaica, Michael's predicament emerged from these and such like consid-
eration. He knew that no matter how the dice were thrown, the issues of development,
progress, and democracy required an anchor in popular consensus. There were four
questions he wanted Jamaicans to answer. These were:
1. How much commonality, that is, nationhood with a shared vision, is neces-
sary in order to produce a basis of legitimacy for a minimum state?
2. Can the popular politics of participatory democracy and civic commitment
produce and sustain the process of social integration?
3. What process is necessary to soften, at least in civil society, the effects of the
divorce between rulers and rules?
4. What is the route of escape, other than emigration, for the dispossessed and
It seems to me now, reflecting on these conversations that I must agree with
Prime Minister Arthur that the key to progress, even survival, is not to be found merely
in the multiplying of party rivalries at the centre of executive power, however much a
structured rivalry might be desirable.
It could be found, rather, as Basil Davidson says, in establishing 'vital inner
links' within the fabric of society, allowing civil society to produce its own version of the
strong state the only kind of state that can promote and protect civil society.
This is the political infrastructure that underpins the protocol of Social Partners
that enabled Barbados to defy the IMF/World Bank Structural Adjustment Programme in
1994, and which now provides the management culture for a new inclusionary political
approach. It is based upon the idea that the leaders of the State, private sector, labour
movement, and civil society, when constituted as an executive force for governance, can
mobilize the society more effectively for development than an elected political party that
can only rule by social division.
But the Social Partners model in Barbados, however, has its own specific
ideological roots that are very much a part of the country social and cultural history. It
did not appear as a sign from the burning bush, though the politics of confronting the IMF
by refusing to devalue the currency did generate a frightening amount of heat. Rather, it
is historically connected in many ways to an ancestry within the slave society, particu-
larly the long 18h century that witnessed no slave rebellions on the island. As such, it
is doubtful if it can be duplicated by other societies with different historical processes.
The success of the Social Partners model also has to do particularly with the
depth and spread of formal education, the nature of the colonial legacy, and the extent to
which Englishness won out in the cultural contest with Africanness. Eurocentricity has
not won in Jamaica; in fact, neither of the principal cultural forces has won out hence
the battle being waged so aggressively for the soul of the society the centre, as Michael
Jamaica today is being hurried along by its own historical logic and rhythm,
while the calls to exit at the first intersection are rising all around. The nation-state is no
longer passionately defended by the masses as the most effective vehicle on which to
travel from Independence out of poverty A sense of despair is growing at all levels of
social interaction. Despair, of course, is all very well for those who can afford it, what
we need is for Jamaica, and the wider Caribbean world, to locate precisely the escape
route identified by Michael in the general area of community self-reliance. This, I think,
is what the Social Partners model in Barbados is all about.
It was to further the discussion about 'routes of escape' that brought me to
Jamaica in 1995 to watch with Michael the final Test match between Australia and the
West Indies which, in the end, neither of us could bear to watch. I arrived in Jamaica
clutching two documents: (1) the draft of my cricket book West Indies Cricket in the
Age of Globalization, which he had insisted I write because he was too ill by then to write
it himself; (2) the 1995 World Bank Development Report:-'Workers in an Integrating
World' I disparately wanted to debate with him how to view globalization as a
contradictory process; to discuss the future of 'history', and the history of 'identity' as
they relate to new strategies of self-reliance.
West Indies lost the match and surrendered the Sir Frank Worrell Trophy,
signalling the end of West Indies cricket supremacy. I dedicated my book to Michael,
and stated that in a very clear and precise way, because of these conversations, he was
really the co-author. In it I defined the Sabina Park defeat in terms of 'nationalism
abandoned' as that was Michael's reading of the situation.
During the course of the Test match I was also weakened by his illness. I do no
know how many times I thanked Jamaica for producing him. I also vowed that in my
own little way I would seek to highlight and sustain his intellectual legacy. We didn't ge'
an opportunity to discuss the World Bank Report on the Labour Movement. Highe)
plans were made for him, but in my head the conversations continue............I than
Michael Manley in the Vanguard Towards Gender Equality
A. LYNN BOLLES
Since the rise of Caribbean feminist scholarship in the 1970s, the contributions
in theoretical, methodological and corrective research has taken on the tremendous job of
including women in social, economic and political discourse. As Christine Barrow notes
in her introduction to Caribbean Portraits, the importance of gendered scholarship is
understood to be an on-going process. Furthermore, where there were gendered discus-
sions in the past, that they should be recognized too.
The inclusion of women in analysis had political roots in Jamaica that went for
the most part unheralded until recent times. However, there were those who were
recognizant of the critical role that women played in society and addressed those issues in
their writings and in their political activities. Thus the following statement from Michael
Manley comes as no surprise:
The disabilities from which they (women) suffer in
adult life are the products of systematic discrimina-
tions reflecting deep-seated prejudices in the soci-
ety... It is an intolerable invasion of the principle of
equality.The Politics of Change (1975, 214)
Michael Manley wrote those words in his 1975 political treatise, The Politics
of Change as an absolute revolutionary challenge to the status quo regarding the equality
of opportunity for women in Jamaica. For Manley, gender equality made sense in terms
)f human resource development; that is the tapping of reservoirs of energy and talent.
With women taking their full and equal place in society, the dynamics would include
decision-making processes on all levels of society. In sum, Michael Manley notes:
Each sex views reality oorm the perspective of its
particular role in the family relationship. Each...
complements the other and policy proceeds most
wisely where it represents a resolution of forces as
between the male and the femaleperspectives. The
Politics of Change (1975, 215).
This gendered declaration no more than 2 paragraphs long represents a
great departure for any leader from Jamaica or elsewhere. It is most insightful when one
considers when Manley wrote these words circa 1972-3. Clearly Manley was influ-
enced by the company he was keeping and his upbringing. Edna Manley nurtured the
nation and the artistic and cultural and movement of the country. But most importantly
she was a great role model for her son.
Rex Nettleford (1990,10) remarked that Edna Manley was a formidable fighter
as only our women can be a rebel, as N.W Manley often recalled, a true feminist
with determination to be in her own right what God chose to make her to be...and was a
skilful political activist, intuitive and wise cautiously forceful in victory, defiantly
resilient in defeat. The centrality of Jamaican womanhood in Jamaican life was social and
cultural foundation in Edna Manley's artistry. This gendered perspective was a legacy
passed on to her son Michael. Furthermore, this connection to Jamaican womanhood was
reciprocated as witnessed by the tremendous outpouring of women voters for the
People's National Party (PNP) in the 1972 election. When Manley acknowledged gender
inequality alongside of racism and classism as impediments to the development of society,
his position was indeed in the vanguard. During the 1970s Manley's administrations,
public policy went on to redress certain elements of gender inequality in Jamaican society,
including passing some of the most profound legislation of the day concerning citizen's
rights, equal opportunity, minimum wage, and the establishing of maternity with pay.
The Women's Bureau was upgraded and transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister
where it received Manley's strong support under the watchful eye of Beverly Manley, his
wife (Antrobus 2000,6).
One of Manley's sources of political power was the trade union movement. In
1969, Manley ended his role as a trade union leader and turned his attention to electoral
politics. However, the labour movement was not at the same level of understanding
gender inequality as Manley. Although the treatment of women workers on the job were
important considerations, the labour movement had its own set of institutional problems
and issues. Barely visible were equity issues facing those who were most affected by it
- women trade unionists.
So, as Michael Manley addressed gender inequality as a social problem, the
labour movement in which he played a critical role, had not come to consciousness. At
issue is how women in the labour movement, especially those in leadership positions,
took up the challenge of equality within the movement itself. How was it possible that an
institution built on workers rights, and a strategy for change in the power structure, was
itself a site of blatant sexism and gendered inequalities?
Over the past two decades, attention has been paid to women in organized labour
in the Caribbean( Bolles, 1996; Reddock, 1988; 1994, Sheperd 1999). Looking for the
women who were the founding mothers of trade unionism, it was hard to find any in the
standard histories. In all the literature on the labour movement, there were only a handful
of women who were identified trade union leaders, or having led a special role in the
history of organized labour in the region ( Haniff 1988; Ford-Smith 1986). Among the
familiar names is Aggie Bernard who was a well-known figure in Jamaica's 1938 riots.
There had to be others considering the critical role trade unions played in Commonwealth
Caribbean societies. Where were these women? Who were these women? And, why are
they invisible and unrecognized in the official records of the labour movement?
To address these questions we must move beyond the position that Manley
articulated 25 years ago, and focus on the social construction of gender in society and
replicated in the organizational structures of Caribbean labour unions. In doing so, the
analysis must also underscore the inventiveness of women leaders who skirted as it were,
outflanked and outmanoeuvred male trade union leaders as they did their jobs and kept
these groups financially afloat. Besides the theoretical discussion, it is essential to hear
the women speak for themselves telling the story, and in essence, thereby completing
the history of the trade union movement in the English-speaking Caribbean for a moment
Social Construction of Gender and Trade Unionism
In Jamaica, like those in the English-speaking Caribbean, all classes of women
are taught two kinds of histories and aspirations to guide them in their walks of life. One
is the traditional African heritage rooted in the experiences of slavery. From it comes
struggle, activism, collectivity and community spirit which are the elements that support
women, men and children in their survival. In addition, both women and men engage in
the social, cultural and economic activities which value the contributions of people
regardless of their gender. Likewise, due to the variation in mating relationships and the
constraints of the division of labour, the majority of women in Jamaica find themselves
for better or for worse, at the centre of many social, economic and cultural arenas.
The second type of history and culture learned, is based on a Eurocentric model
which is part and parcel of the legacy of British colonialism, and the division of labour on
which capitalism is founded. Simply, in this patriarchal view, men are the breadwinners
and women are the housewives. Women deal with the world of biological reproductions,
family, domestic labour, and are subordinate to men. Through the constructs of the
capitalist system, men's labour is valued, and women's labour is devalued. The wage
labour of people is encoded by gender whereby jobs that women perform are based on
their natural suitability, such a sewing, cleaning, tending to the sick and housekeeping.
Needless to say, since men are the biological family breadwinners whether engaged in
work demanding physical strength or mental aptitude they receive greater compensa-
tion for their work than women do. Even though the slave system had men and women
working side by side, in the modes of production which directly followed emancipation
to modern times, men's and women's labour is usually divided, inequitably valued, and
In the region today, women and women deal with male domination, female
subordination and the sexual division of labour in their productive lives, and incorporate
this ideology into their perceptions of the way things ought to be (Anderson 1988:320).
Men, as the dominate gender are seen as born leaders, regardless of their class origin. Of
course, ruling class membership is an additional attribute for doing what is considered a
male inclination. In the societies of the Americas, the nature of social and economic
inequality was and still is measured by the status of one's birth and in some regions, the
colour of skin and/or race. For majority women of African descent there is the added
dimension brought about by both racism and sexism.
Even in the Caribbean today, there are some instances in which to be black and
poor places one in a situation not much changed from the days of slavery. The social
hierarchy, critical to the success of European colonialism, has been maintained by the
ruling classes, and in contemporary times, by the economic agents of wealth and power.
To be middle-class implies the continuation of the privileging of colour and class.
National independence did improve the access to education and employment for Blacks
and East Indians who took advantage of those opportunities. And, though the current
economic crisis has dealt a blow to all, the Caribbean middle-class, have more options to
explore for their survival in hard times.
Class, as an economic relationship expressing productive and social reproductive
relations is embedded not only with race, but also gender. Black feminist (Collins, 1990;
Brewer 1993) refer to this set of relations as the matrix of domination. The matrix is the
multiplicative nature of race, class and gender relationships that require theorizing that is
both historical and contextual as Patricia Mohammed (1994) reminds us. In Caribbean
societies, the use of the matrix of domination can be a valuable concept because of
women's divergent economic and racial and ethnic situations. The matrix is also helpful
when examining power relations and women's access to power in various domains of
Patricia Anderson (1986:320) argues that in the Caribbean, female power seems
to exist at a somewhat subterranean level, especially in regard to kinship and the family.
However she says, women's power is severely curtailed in terms of sex segregated
activities, e.g., duties and occupations with inferred low status. In a study of Trinidadian
women factory workers, power is defined as a determined causal property achieved
through means of resources that are hierarchically distributed (Yelvington 1995,15-16).
Power is derived from scarce resources, e.g. (time, money, commodities), where the
control over these sources by a social entity (an individual, a group, a class) is based on
relations between that social entity and the resources. When using the matrix of
domination, subterranean familiar power, and relational definitions of power together as
guides, women's power is clearly constrained by all of the limiting forces in a particular
society. Women also critically exercise power available to them under those social
conditions too. For middle-class women and men, there is more of a striking discord than
seen in the literature on the poor and working classes.
Peggy Reeves Sanday (1981) observes that antagonism between the sexes may
be noted in societies where female power exists in contradiction to the dominant ideology.
Preliminary findings on research on Jamaican middle-class women supports this concept
(Rawlins, 1987). In this case, the upper classes are advocates of the tenants of a
patriarchal ideology even though women exert familial power. The key, to understanding
the matrix of domination here, is to determine in what domain women have power, and
the ideological web of relations used at home, at the office, and in organizations.
According to Rawlin's study, middle-class women have the responsibility of
maintaining that sense of propriety and socializing children in that mode. Women are to
be keepers and managers of the home. They are never to permit wage employment to
interfere with child bearing and rearing. These unwritten rules resulted partly from the
division of labour derived from the legacy of slavery, and partly from the availability of
domestic workers. They have been socialized to carry on the tradition of propriety,
civility and tea-time in various forms. Moreover, many members of the middle class
maintain the colonial privileged ideology of the class/colour system in regards to their
perceptions of women of poor and working class backgrounds.
Here, the use of the matrix of domination provides some understanding of the
apparent contradictions of Caribbean middle class women's lives. The dominant pre-
scription of patriarchy moves back and forth between the cultural meanings of middle
class women's familial power and other arenas of women's activities, specially in other
settings, such as in the work force. Since the jobs that middle-class women occupy are
class based, the matrix of domination of race, class and gender takes on other nuance
features of inequality When middle-class women become conscious of the multiplicative
nature of the relationships, they come to realize how these structures influence them and
other women as well. Subsequently, from the ranks of the middle class have come some
of the regions most committed women activists for social change. Likewise, some of the
vital forces of female leadership in the organized labour movement have middle class
Women trade union leaders, conscious of the constructs of their society recog-
nize these forces within the organized labour movement. They face situations whereby
they seek to reconstruct their organizations so that they will be more democratic, less
hierarchical, non-sexist and politically and economically meaningful in this changing
world. What is required in this reconstruction, or upending the matrix of domination, is
to perceive of alternative methods of exercising power.
Theories on how women achieve and exercise power in organizational settings
first look at what constitutes a powerful person. Basically, a powerful person may
directly as well as indirectly influence others through structural avenues, such as decision
channels or resource control. In the end, the structural context of the organization will
shape and be shaped by the behaviour of the women themselves and that structure and
behaviour together determine power (Smith and Grenier, 1982). There are three overlap-
ping sources of power: 1) Participation in central essential activities of the organization;
2) Participation in activities that sets the future agenda; and 3) Access to and control over
resources. Coping with uncertainty is a critical structural category because it is often
used against women in their upward mobility within organizations. Women must prove
their ability while it is assumed that men are competent until proven otherwise. Control-
ling resources includes not only a person's ability to channel funds and resources, but it
also refers to the degree of access a person has to future information and assets.
Depending on the setting and situation then, both structural and behavioral
strategies are necessary for women to gain, exercise and maintain positions of power.
However, as the overarching discourse of the matrix of domination is in operation,
women still face sex-stereotyping; old boy rules of entry and conduct, and other
impediments that restrict and contain their access to organizational power. Multiple
theories must be used to best understand the lives and experiences of Caribbean women.
As one theory after another showed, the multiplicative nature of race/ethnicity, class and
gender demands such an approach. With this collective body of theories we can start to
examine the general cultural meanings of power embedded in structures of Jamaican trade
unions and how it is expressed by the behaviour of men and women involved. Women
and men negotiate gender, race, and class in a particular context. Consequently, the social
construction of the matrix of domination is embedded in institutions, such as in the labour
Trade unionism, which found its way as an institutional structure in the region,
was based on a British model. And, like many other models which were replicated in the
colonies, the inherent gender bias remained unchallenged, even in situations where
human resources were scarce. Moreover, the class nature of the early trade union leaders
was in keeping with the Eurocentric notions of male domains of work and politics.
Women leaders, representing every class, whose socialization made them ideal trade
unionists, were locked into a system which rendered them invisible. Thus, the trade
union movement reflected the gendered stratification found throughout the West Indies.
This stratification was based on class, race, and ethnicity and determined who assumed
leadership positions, as prescribed by the proper role for women. The question is: What
have women trade union leader's done to challenge their circumstances in the organized
labour movement, while they still fight, as women and as members of their societies, for
the elimination of the social conditions which keep them oppressed, exploited and
powerless? The complexity and varied experiences of these women leaders in organized
labour as well as the positions held by women in key institutions at every level of society.
and furthermore, the extent of women's contributions those deemed indispensable as
well as those that are sex stereotyped and marginalized all contribute to the lack of
recognition and esteem accorded them by their peers, scholars, politicians and those who
record events. And finally, there are the issues of a personal nature. What role has trade
union work played in these women's personal lives as citizens, mothers, mates and
Trade Unions and Women Leaders
The trade union movement in the English-speaking Caribbean relied on the two
fold premise of meeting the workers needs and of practising electoral politics. Managed
for the most part, by middle class male leadership, the organizing principles follow the
prescribed notions of gender relations, i.e. the dominant ideology of female subordina-
tion. The gender inequality in labour unions/political parties was inherited/modelled
after the labour groups in Britain and the United States. Such inequitable relations
between the genders, devalues, oppresses, subordinates and restricts women's activities.
According to a 1979 International labour Organization (ILO) report, executive positions
in the Commonwealth Caribbean were held by men at a ratio of 3:1. Over the more than
20 years since that report was written, things have changed in a positive direction, but the
number of women CEOs is less than a handful in the entire region. Nonetheless, the
predominate ideology prevails which places women's labour, of any class background
second, and overtly devalues the contribution of women whether or not it is in their best
interest to do so in order to maintain a sense of control.
The roles that women played in the early days, and do in contemporary times as
movement leaders and expressed by them here, reflect the reality of the situation. That
reality is women with skills and leadership abilities are desperately needed in trade
unions because they play vital parts in the survival of these organizations. Also a part of
women trade unionist reality is the result of the impediments to their receiving proper
recognition and advancement within their organizations. For some of the elderly women
leaders, social location also was a key to the tenor of their activities. Consider these
following examples that allow women to make their presence known. These excerpts are
taken from We Paid Our Dues (Bolles 1996).
A woman who was on the front line of the Jamaican labour movement in the late
1930s was Hon. Lady Bustamante, widow of National Hero, Sir Alexander Bustamante.
Not promoting her own position, she says, "I was secretary to Sir Alexander Bustamante
for three years before the start of the BITU" The BITU (Bustamante Industrial Trades
Union) was formed in 1939. So for 50 years and more she had been a member of that
organization. When asked if more women were in leadership positions, would Caribbean
trade unionism be different? Lady Bustamante replied "yes, because women can manage
very well since women put their minds to what is needed.
Another elderly Jamaican trade unionist is Miss Halcyone Idelia Glasspole,
former office manager of the National Workers Union in Jamaica. Her brother was a
trade union man and one of the founders of the modem labour movement in Jamaica. In
1988, when Miss Glasspole was interviewed, her brother Florizel Glasspole was the
Governor General the Queen of England's representative of Jamaica. Miss Glasspole
(she never married) entered union work in 1938 because of her brother's involvement.
Miss Glasspole stated:
"Everybody decided that we were going to form this
big organization, the TUC (Trades Union Congress).
And so it was formed and we carried along. We only
had a few female workers who did just the clerical
work. We weren't interested in the organizing part of
it, because it was terrible uphill work, and the men
did that part of it, and we stayed inside and did the
clerical work. And we struggled along, as I told you,
it was a terrific fight, fighting the employers and we
went right along until around 1945 when we
decided to call a strike at the Mental Hospital The
Bellevue Hospital now, and that was when you had
the terrific upheaval. That struggle goes on, and we
were threatened to be sent to jail and that was hard,
particularly for my brother because he was the gen-
eral secretary so he was the mainstream of the strug-
Asked if this is how she got involved, she replied "yes, this is how I became
Miss Glasspole was not free with information because she still sees herself as
one of the few confidential and competent persons to have served in the early Trade Union
Congress and the National Workers Union. She is still very willing to give service, loyal
and faithful to the labour movement.
The organizational structure of most Commonwealth trade unions continues to
be exceedingly hierarchical in nature. This formation has worked against women in
their attempts to assume positions of primary influence and control, and in their moves to
establish future directives for their organizations. It is true that, even within this rigid
structure, women have played critical roles, and exceptional women have attained
prominent status within the labour movement and society at large. Yet, except for the
major strides taken by the Project for the Development of Caribbean Women in Trade
Unions (1982-84) and other efforts by and for women, there have been few attempts to
alter long-standing views.
In the following, I chose to share a sample of women leaders from other
countries of the region. They also participated in interviews found in We Paid Our Dues.
Here, the women leaders (pseudonyms are used) talk about the organizational structure of
their trade unions. They make grand assessments of the overall effectiveness of their
organizations in improving the working conditions of members and in influencing
broader societal issues within their countries and the region.
I asked them if the structure of their unions impeded their development or other
trade union activities. According to Alexandria McDonald from Guyana:
It impedes, because of the fact the organization is not
made up only by males it has males and females. I
feel that (because of) the fact that the senior positions
are held by males, the women are kind of left. And I
don't think we have a fair chance of voicing opinions.
Retired leader, septuagenarian Enid Green of Barbados, a woman with a third
grade education, recalled a incident that occurred sometime in the late 1950s at a trade
union council meeting:
At the meeting one of the labour leaders one of the
highest secretaries in there said, well, it cannot have
a chart (referring to a proposal Green had made).
Since I could not talk to him inside the union hall I
had to wait until we had a break and were standing
outside. I wasn't frightened of him. When I come
outside, I told him, you are dogmatical, (as) some of
them were big mouth and talk. And some were like
me keep their mouth shut (at certain times) and get the
job done despite of them. You understand?
The people of the Commonwealth Caribbean do understand the link between
trade unions and electoral politics. At issue here is the degree to which trade unions, as
institutions with a well-defined identity in Caribbean societies, will work on behalf of
women trade union leaders entering the political arena. Can trade union activity be
considered a stepping stone for politically ambitious women, as it has always been for
their male counterparts?
A couple of women could not express themselves as they would have liked on
the issue of politics. The responses were monosyllabic at best. Other women leaders had
definite opinions on the question. Some of their responses are indicative of the
socio-political reality of their individual countries. Region-wide, only a dozen women
have sat at any given moment in the elected seats of Parliament. There have been only
two women Prime Ministers.
Sandra Merriweather of Barbados has thought a lot about this:
Stepping stone in term so being the politicians, being
elected as a politician: women have had that glory.
The women, if they have done anything in that light
let's say it has been behind the scenes or assistant
to the men. I cannot, in Barbados, think of any
political women who have come out of the trade
union movement that I can refer to right now in terms
of being elected as a politician. Maybe you can.
Somebody who might have attached in some way to a
senator or something like that, but not being elected
that I can think of, offhand at least. There haven't
been many women politicians anyhow, so that you
always find there is only one. By the time there's
another one, the other one would have lost her seat.
So there is only one woman in parliament. Last count
there was only one woman, there were not attached to
the trade union movement as such.
I don't see (trade union affiliation) as helping the
women to be elected or go into politics. I think the
problem with women in politics in Barbados and
maybe in the Caribbean, or maybe in the world, is
wider than even the trade union movement. Never
mind how you boast within the trade union move-
ment or how much the opportunities they have: the
other problems are stronger and keep them down
more, surface more for women. They tend to be
looked at and be criticized even to the point (when
allegations become) being nasty. I mean more people
would question a woman than they would a man. If
whoever youv'e gone out with when you were six-
teen, seventeen, (becomes) of great importance. It
becomes very nasty, and women are not ready to face
up to that type of behaviour, and men are not ready to
take the chance with them. The men who are in
charge of politics will say, Look, if you have a nasty
record, we are not ready for you. In terms of how
people look at the record, they are (not) ready to
loose their seat for you.
So, you know, women have not yet come of age
where you're going to look at that in a different light.
And I think that this in itself has stopped a lot of
women even putting themselves into the forefront of
running for politics. That is a key area. I don't think
sometimes it has anything to do with even self-confi-
dence. I think there are a number of women who are
confident and who have self-confidence enough that
they can do it. But there is this whole question of
moral thing that is being point at you. The men are
not ready to take that chance.
In contrast, two Guyanese trade union leaders had this to say:
Trade union activity, has in fact, served as a political
springboard for a few, though most of the posts
women have filled have been appointed rather than
elected ones. The hope is that, in time, these women
and those who follow them in office will make up for
exclusion in the past.
The late Jane Phillips Gay commenting on her affiliation connection said:
It has been very helpful to me. Because of my
activity in the Guyana Industrial Workers Union, I
was able to defeat all the other candidates who con-
tested the 1983 elections in my area.
Another Barbadian woman had the last say on the topic:
Well, like I said, if you look through the region you
will see that those persons that are in politics most
of them have first been involved in trade union
movement; and I feel that being in the trade union
movement, it gives you the sort of facility to make
yourself known to people, if nothing else. Because
here you have membership as a base; and when you
deal with the membership whether it be negotiation,
grievance handling or anything like that you become
some person that workers know. And from that
aspect, if nothing else, it can give you the exposure
needed that can help you in any political endeavour.
Without a doubt, the women leaders are tremendous supporters of their individ-
ual organizations and of trade unionism in general. As workers, they have benefited both
materially and socially from their affiliation. They have also, in some cases spent many
years in the movement, preserving labour's gains and moving toward the social uplift of
both themselves and the people they represent. However, the next step is denied,
particularly in the political arena. Women have been able to make the transition from
trade unionism to local and national politics. Not every trade union leader of the 49 in
We Paid Our Dues is a Jane Phillips Gay, or a Mildred Bailey, a senator from Antigua
- an appointed post. The work ahead then is to increase women representation in
political office and at the same time to eliminate the likely link to sexual discrimination
that, according to one woman trade unionist, exists at various levels of the political
process. To paraphrase one leader, it does not matter if you are a true trade unionist or
not. If you are very dynamic person, nothing prevents you from advancing in any field.
That kind of optimism is what keeps women pushing against the odds and what makes
this group of women unique.
In Politics of Change Michael Manley called for the massive re-education of
trade union leadership. A new vision was necessary for the fundamental shift in
relationships between labour leaders, employers, government and membership. The
focus group of trade union leadership did not include the movement's women leaders as
at that time, it was a given that the leadership was male. Today, when the labour
movement is in a greater crisis than experienced two decades ago, re-education, democ-
ratization and gender equality are all on the centre stage. Can women trade union leaders,
with newly acquired skills, training and democratic principles deal with the labour
negotiations in the 21st century? Actually this was the challenge Michael Manley set
forth in 1975, when he called for the inclusion of women as equal partners and
contributors to the process of social change.
Anderson, Patricia Y 1986. "Conclusion; Women in the Caribbean Afterview" Social and Economic
Studies 35 (21):291-324.
Antrobus, Peggy. 2000. "The Rise and Fall of Feminist Politics in the Caribbean Women's Movement 1975-
1995" The Lucille Mathurin Mair Lecture, 2000. Centre for Gender and Development Studies, The
University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.
Barrow, Christine. 1998. Caribbean Portraits. Kingston, JA: lan Randle.
Bolles, A. Lynn. 1996 We Paid Our Dues. Washington, DC: Howard Univ. Press. 1998 "Working on Equal-
ity: Commonwealth Caribbean women Trade Union Leaders" in Caribbean Portraits. Edited by
Christine Barrow, pp. 55-77 Kingston, JA: lan Randle.
Brewer, Rose, 1993. "Theorizing Race, Class and Gender: The New Scholarship of Black Feminist Intellec-
tuals and Black Women's labour" In Theorizing Black Feminisms. Edited by Stanlie James and A.
Busia. ppl3-31 New York: Routledge Press.
Collins, Patricia Hill 1990. Black Feminist Thought. Boston: Unwin & Allen.
Ford-Smith, Honor. 1986 "Women's Place in Caribbean Social Change" In A Caribbean Reader on Devel-
opment. Edited by Judith Wedderburn, pp. 152-76 Kingston, JA: FES.
Haniff, Nesha. 1988. Blaze of Fire. Toronto: Sister Vision Press.
Manley, Michael. 1975. Politics of Change. Washington, DC: Howard Univ Press.
Mohammed, Patricia "Nuancing the Feminist Discourse in the Caribbean" Social and Economic Studies. 43
Nettleford, Rex. 1990. "Tribute to Edna Manley" In Edna Manley, Sculptor.David Boxer, pp. 10-12. King-
ston, JA :The National Gallery of Jamaica and the Edna Manley Foundation
Rawlins, Joan. 1987 "Preliminary Findings: Study of Jamaican middle class women" Paper presented at the
Caribbean Studies-Association. Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe.
Reddock, Rhoda. 1988. Elma Francois: the NWCSA and the Workers Struggle for Change in the Caribbean
in the 1930s. London: New Beacon Books.
1994. Women, Labour and Politics in Trinidad and Tobago: A History. Kingston: lan Ran-
Sanday, Peggy Reeves. 1981. Female Power, Male Dominance. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.
Shepherd, Verene A. 1999. Women in Caribbean History. Kingston: lan Randle.
Smith, Howard L. and Mary Grenier. 1982. "Sources of Organizational Power for Women" Sex Roles 8
Yelvington, Kevin A. 1995. Producing Power. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.
A Personal Reflection on Manley's Model:
Manley and Jamaica Labour Markets in the 1970s
What sets of Social Institutions, Public Policies, Social Norms and Political
Values will most likely foster Sustained Economic Growth with Equity?
That question has bedevilled much of civilized life since the turn of this century.
That was the question that confronted the Michael Manley led Government of the 1970s.
Ironically, that question has remained unanswered, although there is mounting evidence
pointing the way to a possible solution on the one hand and growing patience by the
world's population on the other.
Time is running out. Our experience in this century, is that, when the
Equity question is left unanswered, societies tend to seek radical alternatives.
Much has been written and said about Michael Manley's contribution, not only
to the search for an answer to the Economic Growth and Equity question but also to his
contribution to Industrial Relations in Jamaica.
Most of it establishes his prowess as an Orator Visionary Institution Builder
organizer and Negotiator. An additional recitation of those facts, would fail to
establish the full value of his contribution. I hope in some small way to provide another
vantage point, from which to view his contribution not only to Industrial Relations, but to
the Economic Growth and Equity issue.
Those issues are inextricably linked and in my view:It is Michael Manley's
transition from Collective Bargaining to Collective Law that constitutes his most lasting
contribution to Industrial Relations in Jamaica.
It is that transition, that has generated also, much of the heated debate that
surrounds the era's Labour Market Policies. As the emotions of the 1970s subside, it is
appropriate that an assessment be made as to the nature of the era's Public Policies.
I am aware that the evaluation of Public Policy is often times difficult, primarily
as a consequence of an inability to arrive at objective conclusions devoid of the influences
of political parties and their supporters and detractors and because of the complexity of
correlating numerous evaluation criteria.
Given those circumstances, I will limit my observations to the nation's Labour
Markets and try to answer three specific questions:
(a) Were the policies conventional for a Liberal Democracy?
(b) Were they appropriate, i.e. did they foster economic efficiency without
(c) Had instances of foresight occurred?
My reliance on the nation's Labour Market is due to the fact that:
* A Labour Market is a complex arena occupied by individuals, organizations So-
cial Rules, formal and informal customs and practices. In a Liberal Democracy, it
is a crucial economic mechanism through which poverty reduction can be achieved.
* There is a resurgence of interest by economists in Labour Markets and their institu-
tions. Hitherto Macro-Economists have been preoccupied with questions of Out-
put Growth. The resurgence of interest stems from their continuing inability to
explain why one society develops and another does not.
* This renewed interest also centres around the fact that two competing perspectives
have emerged from the academic and policy debate. On one side there are econo-
mists who view government regulations such as mandatory benefits social secu-
rity contributions minimum wage severance pay collective bargaining,
basically as distortions in otherwise perfectly functioning markets. On the opposite
side are those that stress that Labour Market Institutions and policies help to re-
duce poverty, improve productivity and foster Economic Growth thus enhanc-
ing social welfare in developing countries.(ILO, 1996, p.90)
The Manley Government had clearly accepted the latter view. In order to
understand the Policy responses of the era it is crucial that we endeavour to determine
the Policy Formation environment that confronted the Government. What was the context
in which Labour Market Policies were formulated? The process normally must contend
with a multiplicity of Socio-Economic and Political factors.
In the administration's case, the environment was characterized by an economy
with high levels of protection, market distortions and high levels of inequality. Beyond
those characteristics, there were four other factors that helped to fashion the Labour
Market policies of the era:
1) Labour market issues in the context of Cold War
2) Conventional Wisdom of Liberal Democracies
3) Economic Orthodoxy of the day
4) The Electoral Mandate of the Manley Government.
Issues of the Cold War
Policy formation in the Cold War era, had to be cognizant of the ideological
connotations ascribed to any given sets of policies and the attendant geopolitical consid-
Figure 1. attempts to highlight some issues of theory that had been
super-imposed on the World Labour Markets during that period.
FIG 1: LABOUR MARKET ISSUES COLD WAR ERA
Stress individual S s
Human Rights Stress Collective
World Trading Sys
tem, Protected Mar
World Bank defini-
'Efficiency', ILO -
Unions essential to
Democracy one of
the social partners
Central Planned and
Unions -Agent of
Labour Market Policy was made in the confines of those considerations The ideologi-
cal debate of the time determined the political label that was attached to a given policy
initiative. The nature of that label and its position on the political spectrum placed the
policy somewhere on the East/West divide.
Much of the Conventional Wisdom of Western Liberal Democracies, regarding
Labour Market Policy, was reflected in the Constitution Recommendations and Conven-
tions of the International Labour Office (ILO), an Agency of the United Nations.
International Labour Conventions and Recommendations are adopted by the
International Labour Conference after consultation with the ILO Member States.
The Conference is a Tri-partite body composed of Governments, Employers
and Worker Delegates. When a member state ratifies a Convention, it becomes subject to
a legally binding international obligation. The significance of these international standards
is in their practical effect. A country that has ratified a Convention must report regularly
on its application in law and in practice.
By 1972 Jamaica had been signatory to 20 ILO Conventions; 14 were
signed in 1962 and 4 were signed in 1963; 1 each in 1966 and 1972. The most crucial
for the Manley era were ILO Conventions:
5) 87 Freedom of Association
6) 98 Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining
7) 26 Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery
8) 105 Abolition of Forced Labour
By 1975, there was the addition of:
9) 100 Equal Remuneration
10) 111 Discrimination (Employment and Occupation)
Even in those instances where Jamaica had not been a signatory to a Convention,
there is clear evidence of the influence of un-ratified Conventions on the administration's
127 The Establishment of Co-operatives
158 Termination of Employment
132 Holiday with Pay
11) 3 & 103 Maternity Protection
Beyond the ILO Conventions and Recommendations, there is an identifiable ILO
approach to poverty reduction through Labour Markets.
We can identify a number of Policy orientations which recur in ILO work and
which enlarges the importance of one or the other of the main instruments within the
organization's mandate. At least five such orientations can be distinguished......policies
related to assets redistribution policies arrived at re-structuring production systems,
notably in order to create Employment Policies to improve access to jobs and reduce
vulnerability of particular population group policies to transfer income, goods and
services directly to the poor policies concerned with organization of the poor.
The government of the day also had sought to establish a connection between
their trade policy and labour market outcome.
The relationship between International Trade and Labour Market has a long
history. It was at the heart of the decision to create the International Labour organization
(ILO) in 1919. Following the Second World War in 1948, governments gave a clear
statement on the linkage between trade and labour standards in the Havana Charter, which
was to have created the International Trade Organization. Article 7
"The members recognize that measures relating to
employment must take fully into account the rights of
workers under inter-governmental declarations, con-
ventions and agreements. They recognize that all
countries have a common interest in the achievement
and maintenance of fair labour standards related to
productivity and thus in the improvement of wages
and working conditions as productivity may permit.
The members recognize that unfair labour conditions,
particularly in product for export, create difficulties
in international trade and accordingly, each member
shall take whatever action may be appropriate and
feasible to eliminate such conditions within its terri-
With the creation of the World Trade Organization after the Uruguay Round in
1994, the issue has again come to the fore. In these discussions, an international debate
has developed over the social dimension to global trade and investment system that is
It is clear to me that any analysis of the administration's labour market policy
points in the direction of an ILO bias.
Manley would have had intimate knowledge of the significance of ILO Conven-
tions, having been a Worker Delegate to the ILO Annual Conference and a senior Trade
Historically questions of Economic Development and Equity were treated as
national issues. It was not until 1935 that there was a world-wide review of the extent of
hunger and malnutrition, published by the League of Nations.........Five years later,
British Economist Colin Clarke published his classic study: 'Conditions of Economic
Progress' which laid out the gulf between living standards in rich and poor countries in
hard statistical terms"
With the end of World War II and the subsequent formation of the
Bretton Woods Institution, the public case had been made that they were essential to the
establishment of global prosperity. A United Nations pamphlet promoting the IMF and
the World Bank argued:
We may say that a world half prosperous and half
starving cannot preserve peace and that prosperity
must be achieved for all unless insecurity is spread to
all.( Carfield, C. 1996, p.49)
The issue of economic development was not raised as a political issue in the
United States until 1949 when President Harry Truman placed it on the political agenda
and it would not be until 1960 that President Kennedy would declare the Decade of
Development. It was during this period that the World Bank proclaimed the slogan
"Re-distribution with Growth"
In 1968, the Bank's new President Robert Macnamara at his first meeting with
the Bank's Board of Governors emphasized:
The old ways of development were not working. The
previous two decades had failed to produce the ex-
pected trickle down effect. Developing countries
could have prosperity and social equity if they fol-
lowed a two pronged approach. They must keep
investing in Industrialization and they must also in-
vest in Agriculture and basic Social Services so as to
increase Productivity of the poor.( Carfield, C. 1996,
That view for all intents and purposes was the developmental model
of the day. What is interesting is the view of the Bank as to where its resources ought to
be directed from the Bank's point of view.
Public borrowers have a special advantage over private ones. They can absorb
more money than can individual entrepreneurs; it is easier to keep tabs on a few massive
Government projects than a welter of small independent projects; and investment in
Private Business no matter how successful can have only an indirect effect on the poor.
It makes interesting reading; what is illustrative is that the Bank and its staff saw no
conflict between a more equal distribution of Income and Economic Growth.( Carfield,
C. 1996, p.100)
Beyond the Bretton Woods Institution, by the end of 1960, Economic Ortho-
doxy in most Liberal Democracies argued that Governments could choose from a menu
of inflation and unemployment (the Phillips curve); that government could redistribute
domestically through taxes and transfers.
Taken as a whole, the Economic Orthodoxy saw no conflict between Economic
Growth and Equity issues. That paradigm would drastically alter by 1980, as the world
had to adjust to oil price increases and the collapse of the Fixed Exchange Rate System.
That paradigm shift occurred when policy response by the Bretton Woods Institutions
was based on two fundamental assumptions:
* that free markets were sufficient for growth;
* that they were very nearly sufficient for social stability and political democracy
The strategy for economic success basically consisted in transferring responsi-
bilities for regulation from the State to the market. This required a combination of
policies: privatization, the liberalization of capital and labour markets and financial
Macro-economic policy was to be used primarily to control inflation rather than
stimulate growth. Employment was a secondary consideration of the policies. The
function of labour markets was limited to ensuring flexible adjustment to changes in the
level of demand. In essence, the Bretton Woods paradigm had become no growth no
equity. It had shifted from stability to flexibility.
Whatever the paradigm shift in the 1980s, the Manley administration of the
1970s existed in a policy environment that saw no inherent conflict between equity and
Beyond the Conventional wisdom of the day and the economic Orthodoxy, what
were the internal forces that propelled the Manley Government into political office in the
In respect of Jamaica, Arturo Meyer identifies very well the fragility of the
growth process in the 1950s and 1960s when rates of growth were high and averaged
between 5% and 6% per annum. Investments in bauxite, tourism, middle and upper class
housing and import substituting manufacturing activities fuelled the economic expansion.
Major inflows of capital financed the economic boom. Jamaica's share of
Bauxite in the world market peaked at 24% in 1964. Alumina was not as dominant
because even then (before 1973) the cost of energy was prohibitive. The tourism industry
had grown from modest beginnings to 500,000 visitors by 1972. The manufacturing
sector, primarily import substituting, had grown by 1972 to double the contribution of
agriculture to the GDP even though manufacturing employment was only one-third of that
of agriculture. (Meyer, 1984, p.202). But growth was fragile, in part because of the
heavy dependence on external capital and in part because there was no evident strategy
to shift investments and training to other activities that could assume a lead if bauxite
activities and import substitution manufacturing ceased to expand.
The internal terms of trade in the growth process shifted against agriculture,
resulting in migration from the rural areas to Kingston primarily. This gave rise to high
unemployment, poor housing, lack of adequate social services, ghettos and crime.
Overall unemployment had risen from 13% in 1963 to 24% in 1972. Income inequality
widened. The evidence of this was visible in the wide differences in the standards of
housing often juxtaposed to each other in virtually the same location. In 1965, there were
plots against the Chinese shopkeepers. In the1967 elections, gun violence was in
evidence. Riots recurred in 1968 and shortly after, the Black Power Movement gained
The PNP led by Michael Manley was elected in 1972 to redress these
disturbing social trends. The Government made efforts to distribute incomes by pro-
grammes including skills and literacy training, land reform, food subsidies, rent control,
free education, school uniform subsidies and equal pay for women (Meyer, 1984, p.204)
Arturo Meyer has succinctly captured the administration's response to its
political mandate. For the purposes of this paper, I will re-phrase, that summary, to read
that, in response to the mandate to redress those "disturbing social trends" the govern-
ment enacted a series of Labour Market related policies. The enactment was in recogni-
tion of the fact that, the Labour Markets were an important mechanism for Poverty
That body of policies has become the focal point of intense debate as to their
conventionality and appropriateness. To the owners of Capital they were evidence of a
radical political agenda. To the mass of Jamaicans they were evidence of the administra-
tions responsiveness to expressed needs.
The divergent nature of those policies, require that a system beidentified for their
categorization, their aims and objectives and to account for any volatility associated with
Barros and Camargo (1955) contend that for analytical purposes, Labour Market
Policies can be grouped into four distinct sets of instruments:
1) Rate of employment
2) Quality of Labour Force
3) Those affecting Bargaining Power of workers
4) Those that increase Quality of Employment.
The Rate of Employment Creation or those policies intended to influence the
aggregate demand for Labour with specific response to Macro-Economic/Industrial and
Trade Policy are:
Structural Adjustment Programmes of the IMF
New Economic Order/South/South Dialogue
Restriction on Imports
State Trading Corporation
Bauxite Levy Bauxite Cartel
Policies directed at improving quality of the Labour Force or those directed to
Education and Training:
National Youth Service
Free Secondary Education and Tertiary Educatio
Skill Training Centres
VocationalTraining Development Institute, VTDI
Jamaica Adult Literacy Programme, JAMAL
German Automotive School
Cuban Skills Training Programme
National Nutrition Holdings
Policies designed to increase Bargaining Power of workers and create incen-
tives for them to provide their full potential qualification in the job:
Holiday with Pay
Labour Relations andIndustrialDisputes Act, LRIDA
Termination and Redundancy Act
Legal Aid Services
National Housing Trust
Policies that increased Quality of Employment (i.e. income level
Special Employment Programme
Agricultural Marketing Corporation (AMC)
Community Based Enterprises
Sugar Workers Co-operatives
Cash Subsidies to Farmers
New Economic & Trade Arrangements
Employment Creation/Education and Training
Subsidized Fuel for Fishermen
Stripped of the political rhetoric and catalogued, the policies seem to be almost benevo-
lent. What accounts for their volatility? Camoras and Barros have provided a method
for the cataloguing of Labour Market Policies. Although the system allows for the pack-
aging of a range of instruments, it does not account for the intense support or opposi-
tion that is generated by those policies. For an explanation of Volatility of Policy; we
must turn to Franklin and Ripley (1982) in their view, Domestic Public Policy can be
* Competitive Regulatory
* Protective Regulatory
Distributive Policies and programmes aimed at promoting private activities that are
thought by supporters to be desirable and beneficial to society as a whole and at least in
theory to the activities that would not be undertaken without government's intervention
in the form of assistance. The assistance is provided in the form of subsidies which are
payments of some kind...that induce individuals and groups to undertake the desired
Cash Subsidies Payment to Farmers
Agricultural Marketing Corporation
Low Cost Loan for Housing
National Youth Service
Legal Aid Services
Direct Loans to Farmers
Subsidized Fuel Fishermen
Fertilizer Support Schemes
Competitive Regulatory Policies and programmes limit the provision of specific goods
and services to only one or few designated deliverers chosen from a large number of
potential or actual competition. Demands government intervention because goods and
services being allocated are scarce. Public has stake in manner in which goods are
Restrictions on Imports
State Trading Corporation
Foreign Exchange Controls
Protective Regulatory Policies and programmes designed to protect public by setting
conditions under which various private activities can occur, e.g.
Wage Price Controls
Minimum Wage Fixing
Redundancy and Termination Act
Unfair Working Conditions
Unfair Labour Practices by Union/employer
Unfair Competitive Business
Protective Regulatory implementation is inherently volatile. It is controversial.
Policies intended to readjust the allocation of wealth Property rights or some
other value among social classes or racial groups in society.
National Nutrition Holdings
Provision Legal Aid Clinics
Health and Dental Aids
National Youth Service
Agricultural Marketing Corporation
Skill Training Centres
Free Secondary Education
Special Employment Programme
National Housing Trust
Sugar Workers Co-operatives
Structural Adjustment Programmes
German Automotive School
Cuban Skills Training Programme
Community Based Enterprises
Franklin and Ripley's observation that political opposition to pursuing re-dis-
tributive ends is often very strong and well organized. The interest that feels threatened,
mobilizes, coalesce and put considerable pressure on the implementators.
Nowhere was that exemplified in the 1970's than with the Special Employment
Programme (Crash Programme). It was clearly an Employment Generation Policy but
it was re-distributive in nature. With the attendant volatility and intense ideological
debate. Coupled with those circumstances the administration missed the opportunity to
gain wider public acceptance by not designating programmes to construct productive
infrastructures roads water supply public facilities. The administration further com-
pound that failure by confining programmes to Kingston Metropolitan areas and allowing
participants to be chosen by members of Parliament, effectively turning programmes into
a Peoples National Party programme. This miscalculation by the administration, com-
pounded the inherent volatility of the policy and doomed its implementation to failure.
One of the ironies about redistributive policies is that they are deemed to be so when the
reallocation of resources is in favour of the less advantaged and in the direction of greater
equality. However, when a set of policies are redistributive in favour of those already
more well endowed and in favour of continued or greater social and economic inequal-
ity, it does not generate the same intensity of opposition.
For example, in Jamaica's circumstances, the redistribution of income to-
wards, owners of Capital by prolonged Structural Adjustment programmes, Government
treasury Bills offers and the bailing out of privately owned companies, has not been
viewed as redistributive.
It should be clear that the heat generated by the Government Policies of the
1970's, had more to do with their nature and the fact that they were aimed at greater
equality. Stripped of their political passions and having sought to establish their aims and
to account for their volatility; there remains the three (3) specific questions that were
finally identified. The questions therefore arise:
Were the policies conventional for a Liberal Democracy?
Were they appropriate; did they promote efficiency without diminishing equity?
- Did those policies reflect instances of foresight?
I will contend that the evidence indicates the policies were Conventional that they
reflected the Labour Market Traditions of a Liberal Democracy that they conformed to
the Economic Orthodoxy of the day that they were in keeping with the political mandate
that the administration had received that in essence the policies were guided by the
agreed principles of the ILO, rather than a radical political agenda, that had originated in
Havana or Moscow, as suggested by some critics of the administration.
What is ironical, is, that the core of the job protection measures of those policies
still provide the Policy Framework for the Jamaica Labour Market, the employers
organizations and the Political Opposition who were and still are parties to those ILO
agreed principles. Those principles are assuming even greater influence in the World's
Economy, as the debate intensifies regarding the establishment of minimum standards in
the world Labour Markets.
Beyond the question of Conventionality, the second question that arises is the
appropriateness of those Labour Market related policies.
Did they promote Efficiency without diminishing Equity? This is a very complex issue,
primarily as a consequence of the difficulty in establishing direct, cause and effect,
linkages between a given set of Labour Market Policies and outcomes of Efficiency and
Equity. We can however seek to address the question in a general manner, by looking at
three (3) related issues:
(b) Labour Market Regulation/Distortion Efficiency
(c) Job Protection Regulation/Rigidity/Efficiency
It can be stated flatly that the Equity issue is still unresolved and that inequality has
worsened since the 1970s.
The World Bank has argued that poverty in Jamaica has gone through three
phases: In the first phase from Independence until the early 1970s poverty declined
because aggregate income was growing as Bauxite and Tourism boomed while inequality
was holding constant or at most increasing only slightly.(Pastor, 1987)
In the second phase from the early 1970's, until the mid 1980's poverty
increased because per capital income and consumption declined markedly, while distribu-
tion stayed constant or at best improved only slightly. Whatever the Social Safety net
and Structural Adjustment did to help the poor, was overshadowed by the decline in
aggregate income caused by bad policies and adverse external shocks.
It would be instructive, if the World Bank would identify what it regarded as the
Bad Policy Selection and pinpointed the external shocks that it has alluded to.
Whatever those responses, one issue that cannot be avoided is that of the role of
IMF/World Bank sponsored Economic Stabilization Programmes in the Jamaican Econ-
omy. The stated objectives of those initiatives were supposed to be an equilibrium in the
balance of payments, a stable currency, increased exports, creation of more jobs and
better income distribution.
Those objectives were to be achieved through a series of measures:
* Fiscal Policies to reduce the Public Budget deficit
* Monetary Policies to reduce money supply either directly or through
interest rate policy
* Wage and Price Policies to control inflation
* Removal of subsidies
* Exchange Rate Policy to achieve balance of payments objectives
* Liberalized trade
* Restructuring Public Sector
The fact is those objectives were never fully achieved and it can be demonstrated
that inequality has increased in Jamaica. I am aware that the question as to whether
stabilization policies increase poverty, is controversial. I will stand by an observation
primarily based on (Pastor, 1987) observation regarding their import in Latin America
that; the contraction of the economy has frequently led to a decline in the share of wages
in the national income. Pastor's observations are being borne out by the World Bank's
Many countries experienced macro-economic diffi-
culties in the 1980s, as the debt crises and interna-
tional recession brought structural weaknesses into
the open, but when structural adjustment issues come
to the fore, little attention was paid to the effects on
the poor macro-economic issues seemed more press-
ing and many expected that there would be a rapid
transition to new growth path.....Evidence of declines
in incomes and cutbacks in social services began to
mount.These findings are in keeping with the Jamai-
can experience.(Opening paragraph, Chapter 6
World Bank Development Report 1990.
Perhaps, the most successful adjustment process has been the cheapening of
labour by way of inflation, in the context of wages and incomes policies which restricted
the rate of increases granted to workers. More often than not, the inflation has been
generated by devaluations of the currency (See Witter and Reid, 1995). In addition, with
the cut in the public expenditure on social services and the elimination of subsidies and
price controls on basic goods and services, the real income of labour has been sharply
reduced to the point where Labour in Jamaica is among the cheapest in the Caribbean.
Thus, there was rapid growth in employment, but at low wages, with little job security.
A striking conclusion of Anderson and Witter (1994) was that there is now a large
component of the poor who are employed. As a result, poverty in Jamaica embraces not
only the unemployed and the indigent but also the working poor those who do not earn
enough to afford the basic basket of commodities used to estimate the poverty line. Using
a conservative methodology, the PIOJ (Planning Institute of Jamaica (1994)) estimated
that, in 1993, 28 per cent of the Jamaican population was below the poverty line, with
61 per cent poor living in rural areas. By 1997 that situation had worsened, as the nation
continued to fail in promoting economic efficiency and there was increasing evidence of
The most recent published data on inequality in the Survey of Living Conditions
(SLC) is for 1997. What this data shows is a substantial increase in the Gini Coefficient
In 1997, the Gini Coefficient reached 0.4164, the highest in the history of the
SLC. This exceeds even the level recorded during the year of 80% inflation in 1991
(0.3969) which was the previous record. The 1997 SLC also indicated that the top 20%
of the population accounted for about 49% of all national consumption an increase in its
share. It is clear that the bottom 70% of the population has lost out and in 1997 accounted
for only 38.8% of all national consumption.(Robotham, 1999)
b) Labour Market Regulation
The charge by the administration's critics, is that Manley's Labour
Market Regulations were distortionary thereby leading to increasing inflexibility in the
nation's Labour Market and that in those circumstances had affected levels of Efficiency.
This distortionary view is guided by orthodox neo-classical theory
that contends a free Labour Market is one with no institutional distortion, i.e. collective
bargaining state intervention through social security/minimum wage law/health and
safety regulations/severance pay law. The Economist maintained that such interventions
raise the cost of labour in the formal sector and hence reduce labour demands exacerbate
inequalities between formal and informal sectors impede adjustment to economic
shocks, by reducing employment and wage flexibility, reduce international competitive-
ness (Robotham, 1999).
Are the assumptions true? Despite the claims of Neo-Classical theory:There is
thus no clear-cut empirical support for the claim that high non-wage labour costs hamper
economic performance. A recent economic study found that higher levels of social
security contributions were associated with higher, not lower, total employment growth
and had no significant effect on out-put growth in Latin America and the Caribbean.
This study also found that measures of severance pay, maternity leave and paid
annual leave did not have any significant effect on the growth rates of either total
employment or out-put in this region thus none of the labour market policies traditionally
emphasized by the distortionist view, show any of the hypothesized negative effects on
Employment and Growth.
c) Job Protection Regulation Rigidity and Efficiency
The claim still being made by the administration's critics is that
the "Jamaican Workers Protection Index" is appreciably higher than their counterparts in
the region hemisphere and the world. Those circumstances have made the Jamaican
Labour Market rigid affecting employment levels/investment and efficiency productivity.
In the past, the problem has always been with assessing the benefits or losses associated
with labour legislation, and how to measure protection. The Inter-American Development
Bank in 1998 resolved that problem (Marquez, Inter-American Development Bank
Working Paper Series 373, p.5)
What the evidence indicates is that contrary to the charge of a rigid index, the
Jamaican Workers Protection Index is actually among the lowest in the Region the
hemisphere and the world. If Jamaican Labour Market is not to be considered Rigid, then
some other explanation must be sought for its low levels of efficiency and productivity.
The administration's Job Protection Measures by any standard, were minimal
and conformed to the very issues that are now accepted as Core Standards, in the ungoing
debate regarding minimum standards in the World Labour Markets.
Hindsight is ostensibly wisdom after the event. Foresight is the reverse side to
those circumstances. It would therefore seem logical, that evidence of foresight in past
events must be taken as an element of wisdom. The administration has to be given credit
for a number of policy directions.
The administration clearly understood that Equity issues were crucial to the
Formation of International Economic Policy. This is the evidence from the range of its
initiatives in trying to ensure that Jamaica's terms of trade were favourable concerns:
Regional Carifta New Economic Order South/South Dialogue EEC/LOME.
It was evidently aware that who gains and who loses from Trade Policy help to
determine Equity issues, not only in Trade, but in nations' Labour Markets.The admini-
stration's reliance on the ILO's approach to poverty reduction through the use of the
nation's Labour Markets has been vindicated in the literature.
For example, the World Bank has gone full circle from Redistribution with
Growth in the 1960s, to no Growth no Equity in the 1980s, to strategies for reducing
Unemployment and Poverty that are based on the expectation that liberalization of Trade
and Capital Markets will fuel world growth. Governments should take advantage of this
opportunity to construct a framework policy that generates increased demand for labour
improves skills and Productivity, helps those adversely affected by change and tackles
discrimination and other causes of poverty. This recognizes that Labour Markets do not
work well without a good framework of Public Policy to co-ordinate the action of
government/workers and employers.
In its 1995 World Development Report, it argues that free Trade Unions
bargaining collectively with employers are the cornerstone of effective Industrial Rela-
tions Systems that aim to strike a balance between enterprise competitiveness and workers
aspirations for higher living standards. The report added that Unions have a positive
impact on the compliance of employers with government regulations, on Productivity
Growth and the reduction of discrimination in employment (Word Bank, 1995, p.79).
Even more significant the U.N. convened a World Summit for Social Develop-
ment in Copenhagen in March of 1995. For the first time in history 120 Heads of States
and Governments attended: "The participating Heads of States and Governments acknow-
ledged the urgent need to address profound social problems unemployment and social
exclusion that affect every country."(Word Bank, 1995, p.79).
That social development and social justice are indispensable for the achievement
and maintenance of peace and security within and among our nations. They were also
deeply convinced that economic development, social development and environmental
protection are independent and mutually reinforcing components.
In Chapter 3 entitled:'The Expansion of Productive Employment and the
Reduction of Unemployment' Governments are invited to observe and fully imple-
ment: respect for basic worker's rights, including the prohibition of forced labour and
child labour, freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively,
equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value and non-discrimination
in employment; and fully implement the Conventions of the ILO in the case of parity to
those Conventions and taking into account the principles embodied in those Conventions
in the case of those countries that are a party to those Conventions.(UN, 1995)
In essence, the Bretton Woods Institution has been won over to the
ILO's approach to standards in the World Labour Markets and to the approach embarked
upon by the Manley administration in formulating its policies.
In a real sense, the administration's concerns anticipated the current
debate that rages regarding Liberalized Trade and Equity issues. With the creation of the
WTO after the Uruguay Round in 1994 the international debate over the 'social
dimension' of Global Trade and Investment Systems, have arrived at what the agreed
'Core Value' that is now accepted as necessary in the World Labour Markets.
The administration's assumption that Labour Market Institutions and
policies were not necessarily distortionary and that they can be used as an economic tool,
to, reduce Poverty/Improve Productivity and Foster Economic Growth, has been borne
out by the literature in the 1990s.
The administration's political will to move beyond Collective Bargaining, to
Collective Law, and its commitment to use Job Protection measures, in an attempt to meet
social economic imbalances that had developed in the society.
In the final analysis, Labour Markets like all other Markets, have to be
regulated. The challenge is the degree of regulation that is necessary, for ensuring Equity,
whilst at the same time ensuring that the strategies are outward-looking and providing the
Market with ability to adopt to a changing world.
The Manley administration from the evidence had struck a modern balance
between job protection, flexibility and adaptability. The Jamaican Labour Market cannot
not be regarded as highly codified, but it reflects the basic core value deemed necessary
for a modern Labour Market.
I have asserted that the Labour Market Policies were conventional, that they
conformed to the Economic Orthodoxy of the day. I have also asserted that those Policies
did not distort or diminish the flexibility of the Jamaican Labour Market. The question
therefore arises, as to what Policy pieces were missing, as the Jamaican Labour Markets
continue to exhibit unacceptable levels of inefficiency, low Productivity and increasing
In my view there are three (3) factors affecting our ability to respond effec-
tively to our internal demands and our external challenges:
(1) The first was the failure of the analysis of the day that did not discern that the Oil
Price Shock and the collapse of the Fixed Exchange Rate System were only symptoms of
a larger shift of economic and technical issues.
(2) Secondly, as a consequence of that failure, there was an inattention to the reorganiza-
tion of the structures of production and an almost total ignorance of the crucial role that
productivity improvement can play in fostering real economic growth and its role in
Improvement in Balance of Payments
Cost Price Relationships
Many of these imbalances were precisely the ones that were to have been
corrected, but this is understandable, as macro-economist by and large, never wrestle
with central issues of increased productivity.
The evidence of Productivity decline was always before us.21 Between 1975
1987, Productivity declined by 25%. In 1975, Productivity was approximately
U.S.$2,225 per worker. By 1989, it had declined in constant value to $1,660. In the
manufacturing sector, over the same period the decline was 52%. One does not have to
do an econometric study to understand the implications for almost every aspect of our
National Economy. Until we address the Productivity issue, we will be unable to correct
many of our economic and social imbalances.
(3) The third issue has to do with our inability to agree on the Role of
the State in the process of reform and our failure to manage the pace and sequencing of
In essence, the LO contention that the objectives of reform are unlikely to be
achieved if the role of the State is confined to getting prices right de-regulating markets
and withdrawing from direct economic Production.....purely Market Reform needs to be
supplemented by Public investment and other measures to strengthen the supply re-
sponses of Producers to new Economic incentives and to ensure an equitable distribution
of the benefits of reform.
Whilst I agree with that observation, the issue of Reform goes beyond that of
the State. The question remains as to the pace and sequencing of economic reforms.
Urgently, Jamaica must seek to answer the same question that faced the Manley
administration in the 1970s: What sets of social institutions, public policies, social norms,
political values will most likely sustain Economic Growth with Equity? The answer
clearly demands a modernization of all facets of social, economic and political lives.
We have been subjected to both instantaneous reform on many fronts and a
phased and more gradual implementation of reforms.
The Policy Style has been dependent on the political administration in power.
This lack of agreement on pace and sequencing has meant that we have inherited many
of the dis-advantages of both approaches and failed to garner many of the advantages.
This lack of coherence in our approach has meant that many of our policy
choices has been inappropriate at the time of their implementation.
Time is running out; the answers have to be found if we are to proceed with
dignity into the next century.
Barros & Carmago J. 1995. Active Labour Market Policies & Poverty Alleviation International Institute for
Labour Studies Geneva.
Caribbean Centre for Monetary Studies 1998. Adjustment & Integration in Small Emerging Economies Cari-
com Secretariat, George Town, Guyana.
Carfield Catherine 1996. Masters of Illusion World Bank & the Poverty of Nations, Pan Books London.
Franklin G & Ripley R. 1982. Bureaucracy & Policy Implementation Daisy Press Ontario
ILO, 1996. Employment Policies in a Global Context ILO Geneva.
ILO 1999, Decent Work ILO Geneva
OECD 1996 Labour Standards in the Global Trade & Investment System
Marquez, 1998. Inter-American Development Bank Working Paper Series 373 Ties that Bind Employment
Protection and Labour Market Outcomes in Latin America
Patterson P.J. 1991 Suggested Measures for Improving Productivity JTURDC Kingston, Jamaica.
Pastor M. 1987 The Effects of IMF Programmes in the Third World: Debate & Evidence from Latin Amer-
ica New York Vol. 15 No. 7 14
Robotham D. 1999 Crime and Public Policy In Jamaica New York
United Nations, 1995. Declaration & Programmes of Action of the World Summit Social Development.
Witter M.- 1996. Between Macro-economic Stability and Macro-economic Instability. Kingston, Jamaica.
World Bank 1995 World Development Report Workers in an Integrating World Washington.
World Bank, 1994 Jamaica: a Strategy for Growth & Poverty Reduction Washington.
Michael Manley, Equality and the Jamaican Labour Movement.*
From his inauspicious start in 1952 when he became a part of the National
Workers Union's (NWU) negotiating team for the Ariguanbo Mills' workers, Michael
Manley remained deeply attached to the Jamaican labour movement. Twenty years of
active trade unionism profoundly influenced his political thought and practices. As well
his trade union experiences shaped his political communication skills, his style of political
rhetoric and the political relationship between himself and ordinary Jamaicans. In the last
months of his life he was involved with two labour orientated projects. Firstly, he
attempted to reduce the union rivalry between the two major unions in the bauxite
industry, the National Workers Union (NWU) and the University and Allied Workers
Union (UAWU). Secondly his last major public appearance was to chair a conference
with the island's leading trade unionists and sections of the island's management 61ite
group in an effort to develop modalities of Employee Share Ownership Schemes (ESOP)
in Jamaican enterprises. Both projects mark continuities in the labour and political
practices of Manley.
The labour movement, which Manley joined in 1952, was divided and plagued
by "political unionism" In the aftermath of the 1938 rebellion' the Bustamante
Industrial Trade Union (BITU) led by Alexander Bustamante became the base of the
Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) with union branches and the party organization being one and
the same. For the Peoples National Party (PNP), the party's Left wing organized and built
the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as that party's political base to compete with the BITU.
Unionism and party politics were intertwined in post-war Jamaica. In 1952, the PNP
leadership influenced by cold war politics expelled its Left wing. This action required the
party leadership to build an alternative mass/union base. Subsequently the National
Workers Union (NWU) was organized partly to erode the base of the expelled PNP Left,
the TUC and to compete with the BITU.
Michael Manley's intervention into party politics began when, at the behest of
the PNP leadership, he conducted a mass-speaking programme debating the differences
between democratic socialism and communism to the party membership and newly
recruited NWU members. His intervention in Jamaican politics therefore was against the
Marxist- Leninist left. It is an irony that 28 years later both the United States political elite
and local conservative opposition would ferociously attack his regime as being commu-
nist. Writing on March 8, 1953, in his regular column in the nationalist paper Public
Opinion, Manley stated that "democratic socialism ...means the preservation of free
political institutions, pledged to the preservation of the freedom of the individual ...and
was for planned economic progress of Jamaica. The article also made gestures to the
politics of cold war and suggested that the core difference between democratic socialism
and communism was the former's attachment to liberal democratic political practices and
norms. In subsequent interviews Manley claims that the single most important intellectual
influence on his political thought was the British political theorist and chairperson of the
British Labour Party, Harold Laski (Bogues, 1996a). However while Laski's lectures in
the 1940s at London School of Economics were inspirational to Manley, they could not
prepare him for the vigorous life of rival "political unionism" in Jamaica.
What factors accounted for Manley's entrance into trade unionism? Manley was
drawn to public life; his family, mother and father were both prominent citizens. In
making a decision about public life the question which Manley faced was the sphere of his
contribution. Political journalism was attractive, and while intellectually stimulating was
not enough for a young person with an activist temperament. However, intense
involvement with party politics would inevitably draw comparisons between Manley the
father and Manley the son, and accusations of political dynasty. Trade unionism seemed
to be the other option (Bogues, 1996a). Manley entered the Jamaican labour movement
with a commitment to pursue polices which would ameliorate the conditions of the
Jamaican working class, and a political and social conception of human equality He came
also with a perspective which located labour as a central site for incremental reform in
Jamaican class relations and a positive view of regionalism, something he had learnt from
the West Indian student movement in London in the 1940s (Bogues, 1996a).
The labour movement offered Manley an opportunity to be active around issues
of human equality in Jamaica's rigid class-colour colonial plantation system. In his book
which details his own understanding of the Jamaican labour movement, Manley makes the
point that, "It is no exaggeration to say that until quite recently in our history, the working
class did not exist as human beings for the privileged" (Manley, 1975:54). The colour
class attitudes of the Jamaican upper class were an effrontery to Manley's conception of
human equality. These class attitudes were rooted in the historic white planter basis of
Jamaica and overlaid with notions of colour and class superiority, and deeply embedded
within the workplace. It meant that workers in the 1950s were treated in many instances
like their African ancestors on the sugar plantations during slavery. In such circumstances
notions of labour rights were anathema to the practices of employers. The dominant white
and brown mulatto economic 61ite perceived the black Jamaican worker as a beast of
burden. Manley's entrance into this domain of Jamaican life allowed him to break the
traditional mould of the brown privileged middle-class. This break would profoundly
shape his political ideas for his entire public life. But a break from class habitus does not
mean class-suicide in political terms. The break would mean that Manley was a consistent
advocate for the rights of the working class and for a form of democracy at the workplace.
The issues which he had to consistently wrestle with, were the grounds and the horizons
on which these rights and democracy would be constructed. Manley's family back-
ground, his conceptions of public duty and his politics of democratic socialism would
draw him into vigorous attempts to reconcile the sharp class differences of the Jamaican
society. Such attempts would be conducted on foundations which he thought were more
humane for the ordinary Jamaican worker. These attempts by Manley to negotiate the
labyrinth of Jamaican post-colonial class and colour relations made him a complex
The central political value, which organized Manley's political and labour
practices, was that of equality. For Manley equality had a foundational aspect which was
embedded in laws, a political dimension which was expressed in a democratic politics of
participation, and an economic value elaborated in economic structures which would
facilitate equal opportunity.
In profound contrast to the value of equality all colonial societies were built upon
foundational human inequalities. The native or the colonized was declared non-human by
the colonizer and excluded from the human race with no legal, civil or political rights. In
the Caribbean this foundational inequality was compounded by a system of anti-black
racial oppression. So the black Caribbean person was not a creature of equal human worth
because he/she was both of African descent and colonized. Human inequality then was
inscribed in every pore of colonial society. The creole nationalist movements of the late
1930s and 1940s in the Caribbean challenged only one dimension of this construction of
inequality by advocating political equality, the right to vote. This was a crucial moment
in Jamaica's anti-colonial history but, given the decisive weight of the western episteme
in the political outlook of the Creole nationalists, at the time they did not challenge the
overarching notions of human inequality based on race and class hierarchies. So by the
time Michael Manley entered the labour movement, the battle for political equality had
been settled but the ones for equal opportunity and for justice had yet to be won.
Manley's aim in the labour movement was to overturn the legacy of the old white
planter model of social relationships (Bogues, 1996a). His first major assignment given
to him by Vernon Arnett, the then cenre left general secretary of the PNP took him to the
heart of this model: the Jamaican sugar industry. But the assignment was a complex one.
It was partly motivated by the facts that there were no sugar workers in the NWU, that
the BITU controlled the labour movement in the island, and that the PNP could not win a
general election unless they had penetrated and won a significant section of the sugar
industry, then at the time the single largest employer of labour. The matter was further
complicated because the TUC had won bargaining rights on two sugar estates and
minority rights on others. So Manley faced a huge challenge not only was he set the task
of breaking the dominance of the BITU but he had to challenge the TUC as well. In an
atmosphere of sharp union rivalry the young Manley began to earn his spurs in the labour
The conditions of the sugar workers were an eye-opener for Manley, who up
until this time had never been on a sugar estate. He writes, "Very few estates bothered
with simple expressions of concern like providing tents for shade and clean drinking water
for thirsty field gangs still slogging it out under the merciless midday sun after a pre-dawn
start"(Manley, 1975:92). The campaign to win sugar workers to the NWU took Manley
to many villages throughout the island. During this campaign he listened carefully to the
concerns of the sugar workers and grappled with the form and language in which they
were expressed. It was this experience and his subsequently long involvement with the
sugar workers which profoundly shaped his practical knowledge of the everyday lives of
ordinary workers. Manley claims that his democratic instincts were honed during this
experience and it was this instinct which facilitated his success (Bogues, 1996a). What is
clear is that Manley's oratorical skills were crafted during this initial experience in the
sugar industry. Manley claims that his first attempts at public speaking were failures
(Bogues, 1996a). However his time in the villages and the sugar estates gave him a feel
for the concrete life of the sugar worker and he began to learn how to distil this life in a
series of speeches, which would then culminate in a call for the worker to join the NWU.
Careful not to attack Bustamante in any way, Manley did not bring any of the PNP
leadership into the campaign until the last moment. This tactic was in turn matched by
the BITU bringing Bustamante, then the island's chief minister, into the campaign. The
NWU won the polls in late 1953 and finally gained a foothold in the sugar industry. With
this victory Michael Manley's trade union career was successfully launched.
The sugar campaign had sharpened Manley's organizational skills. He typically
began by working quietly with a few key persons building the base of the organization,
then moving on to village and estate meetings with workers. Each stage of the organiza-
tion was normally tested before he moved to the next. In this organizational mode Manley
developed a keen sense of tactics, which would later become an essential part of his
political skills. Importantly the sugar experience developed in Manley's armory of
political gifts an exceptional antenna which allowed him to pick up on moods of a mass
audience. It honed his skill at political communication in which he gave back to a mass
audience their-mood embellished with a tactical or strategic objective. This quality has
been called by Isaiah Berlin "political judgment" Berlin argues that it is a quality by
which one is able to "grasp the unique combination of characterics that constitute [the]
particular situation" (Berlin, 1996: 45).
What were Manley's contributions to the sugar workers struggle during this
Manley found that winning the polls was a pyrhric victory since the employers
in the industry initially refused to budge on the NWU claims. Although none of these
claims were revolutionary they sought to establish a modern collective bargaining system
in the industry. Manley reflects "the years that followed were a mixture of accomplish-
ment and frustration. It proved incredibly difficult to make any major breakthrough which
would lead to the rationalization and modernization of workers conditions in the
industry" (Manley, 1975:99). Manley states that his major contributions to the sugar
workers struggles were his participation in the Goldberg Commission in 1959 and his role
in marshalling a joint trade union position (Bogues,1996a). What he brought to the
negotiating table were his talents as a labour advocate and the forensic skills which
dissected the accounts of the island's sugar companies. The former was achieved in spite
of the NWU/BITU union rivalry and cemented a life-long friendship with Hugh Shearer.2
This personal fact later became an important element in Manley's last years when he
attempted to encourage the once hostile unions to develop a common platform of policy
However in spite of this it was in the sugar industry that Manley faced one of
the biggest challenges to his trade union leadership. In the 1960s, Hugh Small, then a
young radical leftist lawyer and a member of the left wing grouping the Young Socialist
League, had recently returned from England. In England, Small's politics had been
shaped by the political and intellectual influence of Stuart Hall4 In the period he had also
become familiar with Marxist and Fanonist ideas (Bogues, 1996b). Small was deeply
interested in joining the labour movement and his return passage to Jamaica was paid by
the NWU. However he quickly became critical of the NWU, arguing in workers and
delegate forums that the union should have a strike fund, and advocating strict account-
ability of workers dues. Small combined this trade union work with political activity in
the Young Socialist League (YSL). The YSL's ideological outlook was a mixture of
Fanonist and Leninist ideas. It was composed of individuals who had been encouraged by
Vernon Arnett and Allan Issacs to join the PNP5 However by 1964, the relationship
between the league and the PNP leadership had soured and the leadership of the YSL
ousted from the party Before this occurred however Small and the NWU had parted
In 1965, sugar workers began a massive series of unauthorized wildcat strikes.
In the town of Frome in the parish of Westmoreland, the site of the spark of the 1938
rebellion, some workers approached Small to organize an alternative non-political union
to the BITU and NWU. He agreed and began a series of meetings to form the Workers
Liberation Union. During this organizing sojourn Small pounded away with his chief
criticisms of the major unions- their political ties and lack of financial accountability.
Small attempted to develop an independent class line for the sugar workers by reminding
them that, "What I say is that the worker is all the trade union must be concerned with.
Politicians will come and politicians will go but the working class goes on forever"(Obika
It is clear at the time that Manley's trade union activity did not break the
established mold of trade union practice in Jamaica. He did not conduct any analysis about
the need for an independent labour movement and took "political unionism" as a fixed
and integral part of the field of Jamaican unionism and modern party developments. This
was in opposition to the left who in the immediate post independence period sharply
critiqued "political unionism" As part of the structure of "political unionism" then
Manley was vulnerable to this criticism. Small's effort to organize the sugar workers into
an alternative union failed. However in the post-colonial period independent left
attempts to organize the sugar workers would again become a major plank of left political
JBC and civil disobedience
For Manley his most significant trade union activity was the Jamaica Broadcast-
ing Corporation (JBC) strike of 1964. The catalyst for the strike was the unfair dismissal
of newsroom workers in what was then the Government owned broadcasting station. A
consistent feature of Jamaican politics has been the attempts of the various ruling parties
to influence the station's editorial output. The dismissal of the JBC workers created waves
of sympathy amongst sections of the middle-class. Negotiations between the then JLP
government and the NWU however quickly arrived at a stalemate and it seemed as if the
strike would fizzle out. At this crucial juncture Manley decided upon the tactic of public
civil disobedience in Kingston, the island's capital city. This tactic involved blocking the
major arterial routes from the island's airport into the city. One month after the strike
began Manley led a series of roadblocks. The number of persons participating in the
roadblocks grew with each effort, with support cutting across class lines.
What is interesting about Manley's reflections on this strike was that he preferred
to use the tactic of civil disobedience to gather public support rather than that of sympathy
strikes. He writes, "I still had the weapon of sympathy strikes up my sleeve but this is a
tricky card to play and I was determined to hold it as a last resort"(Manley, 1975:176).
Why was it that Manley went the route of developing broad public support for the strikers
rather than using the standard labour tactic of the sympathy strike? Apart from the fact
that this would have created an unknown situation in the country and broken the silent
code of labour practices, which had by then developed in the island, there was another
In the 1960s Manley believed that the labour movement had three historic
phases. The basic right to union organization and the traditional rights of collective
bargaining characterized the first. In the second phase mutual rights based upon a notion
of natural human rights are extended to the workplace. Central to this phase is the
structure of authority and grounds for dismissal. For Manley, the JBC strike was an
expression of this second phase. Manley therefore saw the campaign around the JBC
strike as one which should be centred on the violation of natural human rights hence his
broad based appeal. The third phase in Manley's schema of the development of the
labour movement was one in which the nature of the workplace organization changed as
democracy replaced hierarchical authority workplace structures (Bogues, 1996a & Man-
The campaign around the JBC strike resulted in Manley receiving consistent
public attention as a defender of human rights. It broadened his base of support to sections
of the middle class and made him a national figure. Manley successfully combined the
threat of sympathy strike action in bauxite and sugar along with the actions of civil
disobedience to bring the government to the negotiating table. His own assessment of the
strike is noteworthy:" the strike was a unique experience for all Jamaicans, provoking
intense controversy, idealistic involvement and contributing to the self image of a young
nation" (Manley, 1975:186) While this assessment is perhaps too sweeping, one certain
result was that Manley was now on the road from unionism to party politics. By 1967 he
was a representative in the House of Parliament and two years later won the PNP
leadership contest becoming party president.
The other major area of Michael Manley's trade union involvement was the
bauxite industry. In this domain two things were important. First the demand of the
NWU in November 1952, for 4 shillings an hour created a new bar for wage claims and
set in train a process where for many years bauxite workers became the vanguard for
levels of wage compensation. Secondly, Manley's activities in the industry led him into
establishing regional links with other mineworkers in the Caribbean. This in turn led to
the organization of the Caribbean Bauxite Mine and Metal Workers Union. Aspects of
Manley's trade union experiences in bauxite subsequently found their way into his policy
actions in the early 1970s. In January 1974 when the PNP government began to
negotiate with the bauxite levy, Manley did so from the standpoint of his experiences with
the companies. These experiences as a labour leader in the bauxite industry also
consolidated his position as an advocate of international commodity organizations, which
would give newly developing countries economic bargaining power in the international
economic system. In his efforts to forge alliances for a New International Economic
Order (NIEO) Manley hoped that in the same way the Caribbean workers had developed
a level of solidarity and cooperative action towards the mining companies, third world
countries endowed with similar resources would cooperate in international action against
the transnational companies. From this perspective he launched efforts to form interna-
tional commodity organizations such as the International Bauxite Association.
The Jamaican political sociologist Carl Stone has argued that during the early
phases of the island's modem party system the political parties were "captives of
organized labour" (Stone, 1986:100). While this is an accurate statement about the
sociological domination of the mass base of the major political parties it is not an accurate
assessment of their major policies in government. Neither of the political parties passed
any major laws in the interest of the workers during the period of internal self-govern-
ment. Indeed the single piece of major labour legislation passed was the Essential Services
Law, which prohibited the labour movement from calling strikes in areas prescribed as
essential services by the colonial governor.
The rank and file of the Jamaican labour movement organized itself into a union
movement because it felt that the trade union organization was an instrument to fight for
equality. It hoped that the legacies of the master/slave relationship which existed in the
workplace would be mitigated by trade union action. So within the workplace culture of
the Jamaican economy, the historic task of the labour movement was to redefine social/
class relationships making them more equal. On this score the Jamaican capitalist class
refused to budge. It should be observed that in contemporary Jamaica many workers still
continue to hold on to this historic task of the trade union movement and that the major
complaints of Jamaican workers revolve around their treatment as human beings by
management. (Carter, 1997) The sentiments of the trade union historic task have been
expressed in workers' every day expressions like "mi nuh slave or slavery days done.
Manley with his experiences in the sugar industry was attuned to this fact. His three stage
schema of labour/capital relationships was rooted in this deep sentiment of the Jamaican
working class and it was something which would preoccupy him for life- how to get the
worker to be treated on human terms in the Jamaican post-colonial society. In the 1970s
it would lead him and his government to develop different social programmes which
attempted to address this issue.
The Manley Government and labour
Michael Manley became Jamaica's Prime Minister on a political platform, which
demanded changes to the island's political, economic and social structures. During the
1972 election campaign he had constructed an all-class-alliance, which demanded social
change. Political currents like Black Power and strong leftist radicalism, which had begun
to make their appearance on the island's political landscape, influenced the Manley
regime. During his election campaign Manley had tapped into elements of these radical
currents and with his trade union experiences had spoken directly to the issues that
impacted on the social mind of the working class Jamaican. As a consequence leading
figures such as DK Duncan, in the radical Black Power movement were drawn to the
PNP 7 The entrance of these persons and Manley's political stance which resonated with
some of the central radical ideas swirling around the Jamaican political landscape created
the conditions for the renewal of the Jamaican two party political system over the next
In government Manley quickly moved to repeal a set of laws which were real
legacies of the island's colonial history of racial plantation slavery. One of the most
ubiquitous of these was the Masters and Servants law, promulgated in 1838 by the local
planter and colonial legislative assembly. This law was established to regulate the
relationship between the newly freed black slaves and the white planter 61ite. As a piece
of legislation it gave the white planter 61ite all powers and authority of dismissal over the
worker. The law was the embodiment of servitude and the social relationships between
white planters and blacks in the late 19' century and 20th century Jamaica. In mid-20Lh
century Jamaica it was a bitter pill for the workers to swallow, although then it was
mainly applied to non-unionized workers and female household workers8 In 1974 the law
was repealed and replaced by a Termination of Employment Act. Manley claims that when
he became Prime Minister in 1972, he already had in his mind the repeal of this law. He
stated that his trade union experience had given him an insight into how the Jamaican
working class viewed the post-colonial state legal codes. He claims that the Masters and
Servants law was the most offensive to the workers and as such it was at the top of the list
for repeal (Bogues,1996a).
The first Manley regime passed a slew of legislation, which attempted to
redefine both the wages and status of the Jamaican worker. In 1974, a National Minimum
Wage Law was passed, and there were exercises for the reclassification of public sector
workers which gave them status and higher wages. In a critical phase of the regime the
government with advice from the trade union movement moved to centralize what had
been numerous government post office accounts across the island into a financial entity
called the Workers Bank. This bank was to marshall funds for workers and to develop
sound banking polices more favourable to the working class than those of the regular
commercial banks. In one of the frequent meetings with the leadership of the trade union
movement, which he began, Manley was advised that a central difficulty which workers
faced was that of housing. After a series of meetings the union movement created
proposals for the establishment of a National Housing Trust which would develop
affordable houses for workers. All the evidence points to the fact that when confronted
with changing the immediate status of the lowliest workers and attempting to meet some
of the social requirements of the working class, the Manley regime was successful. It is
a clear expression of the breaking of the traditional class mould from which Manley
emerged. However when it came to the issue of negotiating between the rights of
employers and workers, Manley's attempts to reconcile these interests oftentimes lead to
conflictual positions. As well the regime oftentimes had to be pushed leftwards on
questions which directly challenged the overall dominance of the elite. Two clear
examples of this were the debates about new labour laws and the struggle of the sugar
workers for control of sugar lands in the parishes of Westmoreland, St. Catherine, and
I have already stated that one piece of legislation, which had been developed by
the colonial, and local political elite was the Essential Services Act. The Manley regime
of the 70s set out to change this act and developed a series of proposals for what later
became known as the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act (LRIDA). In its first
draft the Bill was modelled along the lines of similar pieces of legislation in England. In
particular it proposed the banning of strikes in essential services and then gave the
responsible Minster the power to declare which industries could be considered essential.
The draft was not very different from the old legislation and caused uproar in the island's
labour movement. This led to a series of discussions between the labour movement and
the government and a year later a new bill was passed. The new Bill attempted to assuage
both employers and workers. It recognized the rights of trade unions to exist and to
participate in representative polling at workplaces and the right to strike. It then made it
obligatory for unions who were involved in disputes in the sectors defined as essential to
engage in a series of dispute resolution mechanisms. During this process the law made it
illegal for workers to strike unless the dispute mechanisms had failed in a specified time
period. In other words the Bill did not take away the strike weapon but delayed its
application. Given his trade union background and his penchant for negotiation, Manley
considered this piece of legislation an important modern mechanism for the resolution of
industrial disputes in the island. The LRIDA over time became an omnibus piece of
legislation, which attempted to reconcile union and management industrial relations
Worker participation and worker ownership.
We have already noted that in the final stage of Manley's schema for the
development of labour, labour participation in the decision-making process at the work-
place. For Manley this form of democracy was central to a model of participatory
democracy which could broaden the traditional forms of liberal parliamentary democratic
systems. Manley held the view that democracy at the workplace would erode (not
overturn) the economic power of the capitalist class and shift the power balance both at
the workplace and in the society (Bogues, 1996a). With this in mind the Manley regime
of the 70s attempted to develop worker participatory schemes in different enterprises. To
accomplish this, the government established a unit within a government ministry and
sought to encourage both the trade union movement and the employers to buy into this
project. However the single largest and most radical attempt to develop a model of worker
participation was done outside this frame and was initiated by forces that were also critical
of the regime.
By 1972, the multi-national company Tate and Lyle had withdrawn from the
sugar industry. When the PNP regime assumed the reins of government it found in place
plans to sell the sugar lands to large landowners. On taking power the regime did not
formulate any reformist plans for the sale of the lands. However a group of radical
Catholic priests and social activists profoundly influenced by liberation theology began to
organize the sugar workers on the different estates into a movement that demanded the
sugar lands be leased to the field workers. This movement became the Sugar Workers
Co-operative Council (SWCC). The Manley regime was at first reluctant to support the
SWCC since even radical PNP elements viewed the SWCC with suspicion Since some
of the key organizers were not supportive of the government and were politically closer
to the independent Marxist-Leninist left it was perceived that the SWCC was a potential
base for the Small current. However the government could not ignore the fact that it had
publicly pledged its support for worker participation and that there was a growing
movement amongst the field workers to take over the sugar estates. After months of
negotiation between the SWCC and the sugar authorities representing the government, an
accord was agreed. From that moment the PNP government claimed the movement and
attempted to direct its development.
The SWCC took over the lands of the island's major sugar estates on long-term
lease. However by the mid 1980s, the sugar cooperatives were in deep economic trouble
and the JLP government began to return the lands to the traditional sugar companies.
Commentators on this experiment in worker participation and ownership have suggested
that the primary reason for the failure of the endeavour was the lack of responsible
financial management practices of the enterprises (Stone, 1981). Manley himself felt that
the enterprises failed for this reason as well as the sugar industry's lack of international
competitiveness (Bogues, 1996a). But whatever the reason, the attempt is still regarded
by many workers as an attempt to change the dynamics of the power relationships in the
Jamaican work place.0
Later in his political career Manley in the early 90s would return to the issue of
forms of democracy at the workplace. By then he had modified aspects of his political
thought and pragmatically accepted the market economy as a foundation for economic
activity. In this mode he began to think through different modalities for workplace
democracy and subsequently came to support employee share-owning schemes (ESOP) as
a way to shift the power balances in the workplace making it more democratic.
Economic and Political democracy.
The political ideas which emerged from Manley's involvement with the Jamai-
can labour movement are critical elements that allows us to distinguish his political
thought from that of mainstream 20h century social democracy in at least one major area.
Social democratic political thought typically focuses on liberal democratic norms, the role
of the state in resdistributionist activities and ignores the relationships within the eco-
nomic productive domain of society (Thomas Meyer, 1981). Manley's immersion in the
labour movement and that movement's drive for foundational equality in post-colonial
Jamaica helped to shape his political thought giving it a distinctive flavor which was not
to be found in mainstream western social democracy. In his most conscious work of
political ideas Manley states, "that the ownership and control of capital by a small
minority of the society arose largely from the nature of the society at the time" (Manley,
1990: 110). He then argues that modern society had developed to a stage where education
and knowledge made it incumbent for ownership structures to be broadened. So in
Manley's political thought while distinct in this aspect from social democracy it is also
contrary to Marxist propositions. For Manley, the working class did not come to own the
means of production because of their historic location in the relations of production but
because of the everwidening circles of education, the growth of political democracy and
the attendant need for this to be accompanied by some form of economic democracy.
Noteworthy about this formulation are Manley's concerns for economic democracy and
his linkage of notions of economic and political democracy. However a central problem-
atic was that while in advanced capitalist societies such notions might not cause a flutter
in post-colonial Jamaican society constructed on authoritarian relationships of race and
class, such ideas sent chills of fear down the spines of the dominant economic 61ite. In this
group's perception such ideas if implemented would erode their power. In the final
analysis this fear of power erosion moved this class firmly into the political camp of
active conservatism during the 1970s. This obviously raises questions about the nature
of political change in Jamaican society and the extent of the local ruling classes ability to
negotiate such changes.11 For Manley a central dimension of egalitarianism was creating
the conditions for forms of economic democracy located at the workplace. This concern
was intimately linked to his notion of a worker being a human being and not a beast of
burden. In the final analysis it would mean that while preoccupied with redistributionist
activity in the 1970s he would also focus on concrete forms of workplace organization.
Words, power and Manley's political thought
As stated earlier Manley's sojourn on the Jamaican sugar estates was the critical
ingredient shaping his mode of political communication. Political communication was at
the heart of Manley's political practice. He writes that the tools of democratic participa-
tory politics are "communication and dialogue, its method involvement and its purpose
mobilization" (Manley, 1990:75). Linguistic studies have shown that language is an
integral part of the system of culture (Bourdieu, 1994). In oral dominated cultures the
power of the spoken word represents not only speech but also action (Ricoeur, 1991).
This is different from a context where words and language only represent a textual sign
system. If we examine the meaning of political rhetoric in an oral society then it is safe to
say that rhetoric is an ideological practice embedded within the public discourses of social
and political practices. If we say that in oral cultures the power of words means action
then within the context of political and social change rhetoric has a dual character-it is
communication and a site of radical action which impacts upon hegemonic political
discourse. This partly explains why when the subaltern classes were dignified as equal
human beings in Manley's speeches that consternation amongst the Jamaican 61ite became
the order of the day.
Manley himself felt that it was possible to renegotiate the terms of class
relationships in Jamaican society by creating a public discourse of equality and brother-
hood which was backed up with symbolic projects involving all classes (Bogues, 1996a).
One such project was Labour Day which in the first few years of the regime was highly
Since Manley had a view about the power of words in Jamaican society, and we
have noted the relationship between words, political action and political rhetoric it is clear
that he also felt that he could use political rhetoric as an instrument to drive the reformist
project in which he was engaged, to cajole those who resisted the project and to create the
conditions for the projects success. The problematic was that the word equality from the
standpoint of the Jamaican oppressed classes had inscribed within it political values of
freedom and economic opportunity which challenged the fundamental structures of the
society12 and thus could not be contained in a reformist project.
In writing about an egalitarian society, Manley notes that,"a society is egalitar-
ian when every-single member feels instinctively unhesitatingly and unreservedly that his
or her essential worth is recognized and that there is a foundation of rights upon
which...[their] interests can safely rest" (Manley, 1990:38). In the same text he further
suggests that the social ranks, which are created by economic organization, should never
be allowed to "harden into social classes" In Manley's political vision of an egalitarian
society, doctors, street cleaners, workers, owners of large enterprises, owners of small
enterprises would all be able to see themselves as equal members of society. At the
foundation of this idea is an understanding that society is a "group of people pursuing the
common objective of survival" (Manley, 1990:17). Manley was acutely aware of the
existence of classes in post-colonial Jamaica, but believed that since these classes were a
historical human construct then they could be dissolved by willful human action. This
was his central political task to communicate this fact to all the classes. His success in
the Jamaican labour movement convinced him of this possibility.
Labour and socialism.
In 1974, the PNP after ten years of eschewing socialist ideology redeclared itself
a democratic socialist party. This political shift meant that Manley's ideas about the role
of workers now had to be fitted into an explicit ideological frame. With this in mind
Manley then argued that the emergence of unions was the result of capitalism and that
unions could do no more than mitigate the worst effects of the capitalist system (Manley,
1975: 212). He also stated that traditional unions were a prop to capitalism since they
accepted capitalist values. This was a different position from his earlier elaboration in
which the unions had a fundamental role to play in the democratization of the economy
and the society In this later formulation the role of change agent was assigned to the mass
democratic political party. In 1975 Manley limits the role of labour to reformist action in
developing housing, dealing with wage differentials in the labour force, paying special
attention to the problems of female employment and worker education (Manley, 1975:
212-215). While in government Manley bemoaned traditional union rivalry and argued
that the union movement needed to work out arrangements which would minimize
conflicts and rivalry. In his earlier schema, Manley had stated that the final stage of the
labour movement was a struggle for democracy at the work place based on the principle
of human equality While previously it seems that this issue could be separated from the
nature of the economic system within the ideological framework of democratic socialism
it was not possible. As a consequence Manley now believed that capitalism, as an
economic system could not facilitate democracy at the workplace while on the other hand
democratic socialism was capable of doing so. Socialism in Manley's political thought in
1975 became the climax of a series of historical evolutions in which the concept of
equality gave birth to democracy, which in turn then "spawned socialism as a concept and
method of social and economic organizations" (Manley, 1975:222).
However what is distinctive about Manley's notion of socialism at the time was
how it eschewed traditional socialist definitions which equated public ownership with
socialism and worker democracy. Attempting to find a form for worker democracy at the
workplace, Manley suggests that public ownership does not answer the question of
inclusion "of the worker in the decision making process as a full and equal partner."
(Manley, 1975: 225) This is one of the central ingredients in Manley's political thought
and was the brake on him advocating full state control of an economy. It also distin-
guished him from his acknowledged mentor, Laski. One of Laski's major theoretical
projects was to reconcile liberal democratic political values to Marxism (Laski, 1968).
Manley however was preoccupied with searching for a form of society which would link
human equality, with liberal democratic forms and a form of economic democracy. An
imposing state with economic and political dominance was therefore never an integral part
of Manley's political ideas13 Because Manley did not favour such a state he always
attempted to develop ideas, which would give workers a voice at the workplace.
When in the late 1980s Manley redefined his socialist project and admitted to
what he considered to be the permanency of the capitalist market a profound tension
emerged within his political thought. This tension can be discerned in his own reflections
of the 1980 electoral defeat and the then rapid advance of right wing neo-liberalism as the
dominant political ideology in the world. As Manley began to feel that the market
economic system was a better allocation of resources his concern turned to how to tame
the market, how to develop social institutions which would minimize the traditional
inequalities of the capitalist market. This concern was even more acute since as a
practicing politician in the 1990s Manley also had a tactical political objective of restoring
the broken ties with the Washington. Added to these tactical considerations was the
problem of the ideological development of the party for which he assumed ideological
leadership. The concrete political problematic which he faced at the time was how to fit
the tactical objectives and his rethinking of the nature of the market into a consistent
socialist ideological framework, not upset Washington and at the same time keep the PNP
on a ideological track which would stop it from descending into the morass of Jamaican
clientelistic politics. All these factors combined to push Manley into an elaboration of
ideological positions, which resulted into two things. First, there was no fine-tuning of
ideology in the way the doctrine of democratic socialism was fined tuned in the 1970s.
Secondly, Manley became more preoccupied with creating political stability and the terms
of his own transition process from leadership. In his final days he had planned to begin
work on redefining his political ideas which he felt would have been the best legacy to
leave for the PNP That work was never completed.
Recognizing that his energy was running low because of his illness Manley then
set himself the practical task of minimizing conflicts in the bauxite industry and of
persuading the unions and employers that the concept of ESOPs was a worthwhile one for
How do we assess Manley's labour legacy? This legacy has two dimensions to
it. The first is that Manley found in the labour movement a concern about human equality,
which he attempted to implement. However this implementation was stymied by the
nature of the "political unionism" and subsequent union rivalry in the Jamaican labour
movement. Manley himself was part of this "political unionism" There is no doubt that
he modernized collective bargaining techniques at the workplace and that in the bauxite
industry, his work facilitated the emergence of mid-20 century regionalism in the
Caribbean labour movement. At the second level, there is his contribution to the labour
movement conducted through the political process. Here the legacy is much more
substantive in the laws, which repealed servitude status of the Jamaican worker. But
perhaps another way of assessing Manley's and labour is to see how labour influenced his
political ideas and practice.
Manley's immersion for 20 years in the Jamaican trade union movement became
the cradle for the development of his skills of political communication. It honed his talent
for negotiation so much so that negotiation became not a style but a substantive form of
his political practices. He carried from trade unionism his abilities at negotiation and
persuasion resulting in the belief that he could persuade the Jamaican oligarchy to give up
some of their power and rearrange class relationships, which would make the ordinary
Black Jamaican equal. His talent for political communication and his political philosophy
of human equality led him to create a public political discourse about human equality in a
society which was shaped and organized by class, race and colour systems of domination.
That many Jamaicans remember him today in a favourable way is testimony to the fact
that while his efforts did not achieve their mark and were in some instances contradictory
they resonated with the ordinary Jamaicans' deepest aspirations.
In order to grapple with the full significance of Manley to post colonial Jamaica
it might be important for us to shift the site of politics from its more traditional structural
and institutional basis to the nebulous and problematic site of the subjective. One
fundamental legacy of Jamaica's history is how Black Jamaicans as colonized racial
subjects have been subjected to a language, ethos, vocabulary and set of social relation-
ships which denigrate them. From this frame critical new sites of politics emerge as
everyday indignities suffered, the humiliation and social relationships conducted through
vocabularies and practices are contested. This type of analysis does not negate the central
importance of structural forms of exploitation, however it announces that in colonial-ra-
cialized societies there exists another level of domination which should be considered.
Manley's conception of human equality resonated with elements of the modes of resis-
tance of the ordinary Jamaican. It deeply upset the local brown and white oligracy in the
first instance and gave it impetus to actively organize itself against the regime. In the end
what Manley's political practice did was to place centre stage in mainstream Jamaican
politics the issues of equality and the displacement of the legacies of white colonial
plantation society. This was an active dimension of the deepest aspirations of the
Jamaican working class. It was the most significant thing he had learnt in the cauldron of
the Jamaican labour movement.
* This essay draws from a larger work on the political thought and intellectual biography of Michael Manley
presently in progress. I wish to thank Norman Girvan, and Geri Augusto for their critical comments on
this version of the essay.
1. This is reference to the labour rebellion of May 1938which swept the island. The rebellion is viewed as a
critical marker in the 20th century Jamaican political history. For a detailed study see Ken Post, Arise
Ye Starvelings ( London: Martinus Nijhoff,1978)
2. Hugh Shearer became the island's third prime- minister and today is the president of the BITU.
3. Between 1992-1997, the unity of the island's labour movement became one of Manley's chief concerns
and he worked closely with the island's union leadership to develop a confederation of the Jamaican
labour movement. Before that he had worked along with the island's trade union leadership to develop
a central research and educational institution, The Joint Trade Union and Research and Development
Center. This center then became the institutional frame which in 1994 created the Jamaica Confedera-
tion of Trade unions. Today union rivalry in the Jamaican labor movement is at a minimum as the con-
federation oftentimes acts as bargaining agents for some sectors of workers. Such a situation would have
been unthinkable during the days of "political unionism" It indicates that the Jamaican labour move-
ment is becoming less dependent on its original linkages with the tvo major political parties and develop-
ing an independent stance of its own. However the delinking process is by no means complete.
4. Stuart Hall a leading Caribbean intellectual is credited with being one of the founders of cultural studies.
For an interview with Hall in which he discusses his intellectual trajectory see Small Axe Nol. (King-
ston: lan Randle, 1997)
5. See for a discussion of the history and significance of the Young Socialist League, Obika Gray, Radical-
ism and Social Change in Jamaica, 1960-1972. (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1991)
6. Perhaps the most insightful critique of "political unionism" came from Joseph Edwards, a refrigerator me-
chanic who was a major worker leader in the early 1970's. Edwards published a pamphlet titled, "Un-
ion Versus Menegment" (Kingston: Abeng, 1971) that detailed the way in which political unionism had
turned the labour movement into an instrument of the middle-class political practice.
7. The major radical group which emerged in this period (1968-1972) was Abeng. Organized around a radi-
cal newspaper the group was highly critical of Manley and the PNP. However some members of the
group in particular DK. Duncan began to feel after seeing and hearing Manley on the campaign trail that
he represented a progressive current within the PNP. Duncan joined the PNP eventually becoming the
leader of the radical left in that party.
8. One of the most intriguing untold stories about the development of the Jamaican working class is the emer-
gence of domestic female labour in early 20th century Jamaica. It is a story of the oppression of women
and the renegoiation of Black Jamaican female identity. This is a story that badly needs telling.
9. As information officer of the SWCC the author produced a video about the project which focused on the
workers themselves telling their stories. As pan of a plan to influence the PNP the SWCC decided to
show the video to elements of the PNP left to persuade them that the SWCC was worth supporting. To
the amazement of the few SWCC organizers who were at that meeting the main comment of the PNP
left who were present after the showing was that the video demonstrated the influence of communism.
10. It is interesting that a decade later when this writer worked with the island's labour movement as an edu-
cation officer that one of the outstanding things which workers in sugar industry consistently referred to
favorably was the attempt to control the lands of the sugar industry. Surveys at the time indicated that
workers still saw worker participation as a viable method of increasing their power at the workplace.
Any discussion of the collapse of the politics of the 1970's in Jamaica has to face this critical question.
So far it has not been answered with any profound examination of the nature of the social forces in the
island and how hegemony has been constructed and is presently fragmented. I am grateful to my col-
league, Anthony Harriott who raised this point with me in discussing this article.
12. See Anthony Bogues, "Investigating the Radical Caribbean Intellectual Tradition" in Small Axe
No4.1998, for a fuller discussion of this point.
13. This is a point of controversy. Those who would disagree would point to the 1978 Principles and Objec-
tives, in which the objective of the state control of the commanding heights of the economy is elabo-
rated. I would argue that The Principles and Objectives should be studied as a tactical rather than a
strategic/foundation document and was the result of struggles within the PNP at the time. As a tactical
document it marks the highpoint of the radical PNP left influence led by DK. Duncan. As well I would
suggest that the political thought of Manley can be studied textually from his numerous speeches and
that the prime philosophical source for his ideas are to be found in his book The Politics of Change. It is
interesting that in the revised edition of this book Manley states that he did not discuss socialism in the
first edition. However more importantly because I think that this text is the most accurate description of
Manley's political thought then it means that the so-called dramatic changes of the 1990's are not so dra-
matic after all. There is a methodological point about studying Manley's political thought which I think
is important in general for the study of political thought. As a practicing politician, Manley's political
ideas should be studied both from textual as well as from his vast political practice. When this is done
then adequate considerations can be given as to what is tactical and what is of philosophical political
Isaiah Berlin, (1996) "Political Judgement" in The Sense of Reality (London: Chatto&Windus)
Anthony Bogues, (1996a) Interviews with Michael Manley, June-September 1996
Anthony Bogues, (1996b) Interview with Hugh Small, November 14,1996
Pierre Bourdeiu, (1994) Language &Symbolic Power (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.)
Kenneth Carter, (1997) Why Workers Won't Work (London: Macmillan.)
Obika Gray, (1991) Radicalism and Social Change in Jamaica, 1960-1972. (Knoxville, University of Tennes-
Harold Laski, (1968) Reflections of the Revolution of our Time (London: Frank Cass)
Michael Manley, (1975) A Voice at the Workplace (London: Andre Deutsch)