THE SPLIT IN THE TUC
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The British White Paper, which cooked up "reasons" for the suspension of the constitution, was also very critical of the Trades Union Council (TUC) for supporting the deposed PPP Government. This attack on the TUC encouraged some leading anti-communist politicians and trade unionists to brand the TUC as being influenced by communists, and they immediately began to make efforts for its disbandment. The prevailing political situation, in the period following the removal of the PPP Government, aided in this process.
Shortly after the PPP won the elections in April 1953, a frequent visitor to Guyana was Serafino Romauldi, a principal agent of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the Inter-American Regional Organisation of Workers (ORIT). He worked very closely with the Man Power Citizens' Association (MPCA) and a number of unions which were under the influence of anti-PPP political parties which formed the political opposition. The anti-communist ICFTU was formed to counter the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), to which the TUC was affiliated.
In November 1953, Romauldi influenced the unions which were under the control of the anti-PPP political parties to seize control of the leadership of the TUC. These unions - the MPCA, the Headmen's Union, the Sugar Boilers' Union, the BG Amalgamated Workers' League, the BG Federation of Moulders and Mechanics, and the BG Mine Workers' Union - called a special meeting of the TUC to which other affiliates were not invited. The meeting was convened by A.T. Gibson, the past president of the TUC, at a time when some of the officers of the Council were travelling abroad.
Significantly, the MPCA, led by Lionel Luckhoo, was not even an affiliate of the TUC having withdrawn its membership in 1952. Also, the BG Amalgamated Workers' League and the BG Federation of Moulders and Mechanics had not paid up their membership dues and were regarded as paper unions (with very few members). They were both being headed by Winston Glenn, a supporter of the National Democratic Party (NDP) which supported the undemocratic removal of the PPP Government. The MPCA, the Headmen's Union and the Sugar Boilers' Union were widely regarded as company unions under the control of the large sugar planters.
The chief organisers of the special meeting were Lionel Luckhoo, who was also a leading member of the NDP, and Rupert Tello, another leading member of the MPCA. Luckhoo did not contest the 1953 election, but was nominated by the Governor to the State Council, and after the PPP Government was removed, he became an executive member on the Interim Government. Tello was also appointed as a member of the Interim Government even though he was a badly defeated NDP candidate in the 1953 election. In 1955, he succeeded Luckhoo as president of the MPCA
This meeting disbanded the original TUC and elected officers who were antagonistic to the PPP. Rupert Tello was chosen as the general secretary, a post he held for the next seven years. It also established a rule which prevented membership to any union which was associated with the WFTU and the Caribbean Labour Congress. (In 1954, at the annual meeting of the TUC, 17 affiliates called for a discussion of this rule, but this was disallowed by the executive committee).
The "new" TUC immediately applied for membership of the ICFTU which soon controlled all its policies and activities. In the period of the Interim Government, it played a subservient role and meekly supported policies detrimental to workers' interests, and never raised any protests when, under the order of the Governor, militant trade unionists were detained without trial. This also marked the beginning of the period when the leadership of the TUC took a decisive anti-progressive position, preferring to stand in outright opposition to the PPP and its pro-socialist policies.