June 19th 2015 is Labour Day and as one very much interested in the “Rights of Workers” this day is of much significance. June 19th marks the anniversary of the Butler Oilfield Riots of 1937. Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler was essentially the most significant figure then, fighting for the rights of workers.
Ironically the Industrial Relations climate that existed in the 1930’s and the conditions that workers faced then are still reflected in many ways today. According to the National Library and Information Systems Authority (NALIS) website “worker abuse, underpayment for labour, racism, economic depression and a considerable fall in the living standards of the working class” was the reality. Most recently we saw a worker a Public Servant at that, Ms. Cheryl Miller thanking God that the court had ruled in her favour by awarding her not nearly enough, for her being dragged from her place of employment, (her desk no less), right to the very dark and wretched room of a mental institution. The incident happened three (3) years ago not in the 1930’s.
What would Mr. Buttler have done were he alive today? No doubt he would have been pained by Ms. Miller’s experience. He would have done more than just looked on from the sidelines.
Recently I got the opportunity to visit Nelson Island and more specifically the Cottage where Mr. Buttler was detained or imprisoned rather from 1935-1945. According to the signboard posted outside the Cottage, prior to this he was imprisoned in a Trinidad prison for some two (2) years. His crime standing up for the rights of workers.
You can also visit these links to read a little more on Mr. Butler.