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Race and Class in the Colonial Bahamas, 1880-1960$
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Gail Saunders

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062549

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062549.001.0001

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The 1958 General Strike and Its Aftermath

The 1958 General Strike and Its Aftermath

Chapter:
8 The 1958 General Strike and Its Aftermath
Source:
Race and Class in the Colonial Bahamas, 1880-1960
Author(s):

Gail Saunders

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062549.003.0009

Chapter 8 describes the dispute which led to the general strike of 1958. A government-appointed Airports Board, which controlled parking regulations at the airport, agreed on a “franchise” project whereby a local bus company and meter –taxi firm, owned by a British resident but controlled by Bay Street representatives, would be given franchises to convey passengers between the airport and hotels. Large areas of parking space would be allocated for franchise operators. This was resented by the Taxi-Cab Union (comprising black independent taxi-drivers and owners) as unfair competition by wealthy Bay Street merchants. The plan involved an increase in the seating capacity of hotel vehicles that would exclude the Taxi Cab Union. On the morning of 2 November 1957, when the new airport opened for traffic, the Taxi Cab Union led by Clifford Darling, blockaded all roads from the airport. The demonstration was supported by the PLP and the Bahamas Federation of Labour (BFL). Negotiations between the parties failed, and on Sunday, 12 January 1958, the general strike began. Hotels closed, racial tensions ran high, and troops were called in. By 21 January 1958, the tourist trade had come to a standstill, negatively affecting the local economy. An important milestone in the aftermath of the strike is British secretary of state Alan Lennox-Boyd’s visit to the Bahamas, which led to electoral reforms and improvements in education and medical services for all Bahamians, black and white, male and female. Chapter 8 also explores the Bahamas’ racially charged women’s suffrage movement, established in 1957, which had its origins in the emerging black middle class of Over-the Hill Nassau.

Keywords:   strike, Taxi Cab Union, Clifford Darling, Bahamas Federation of Labour, racial tension, electoral reform, reform, Alan Lennox-Boyd, suffrage, women

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