The 1924 Workers' Incident at Ruimveldt British Guiana and the development of working people's organisation
In 1924 stevedores and other categories of dock workers in Georgetown, British Guiana, went on strike in response to a call by the British Guiana Labour Union (BGLU). In a demonstration of solidarity, estate workers from several sugar plantations along the East Bank of Demerara embarked upon a march to Georgetown. At Plantation Ruimveldt, the workers confronted a detachment of police officers and members of the military forces. As a result of an order to shoot into the crowd thirteen workers were killed and twenty-four wounded. The dissertation has been able to establish the '1924 Workers' Incident at Ruimveldt' as a watershed in Guianese working people's struggle by highlighting its prominence among other moments of overt resistance through its impact upon workers' organisation. The significance of the Incident is also brought out in the new relationship which developed between the British government, the Colonial Office and the British TUC, on the one hand, and the Guianese labour leaders on the other. In pursuit of this task, the dissertation addresses the following: the organisational structures of the working people at the formal and non-formal or 'street corner' levels; the leadership which emerged from the ranks of the working people and the middle class; the impact of 'grassroots' organisation in fostering working peoples' consciousness and co-operation among members of the major racial sections in the country; and their attempts to establish links with progressive individuals and organisations within Guiana and throughout the international community.