The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
If ever there was a person qualified to write a potted history of the Caribbean from the perspective of the labour movement in that region, there surely can be no-one more suitable to undertake the task than Richard Hart.
Born in Jamaica in 1917, Hart trained as a solicitor before throwing himself into the country's emerging trade union movement.
He was involved in trade union activities in the British Caribbean region colonies for many years.
A member of the labour committee formed in Jamaica in 1938, he was responsible for drafting a model trade union constitution.
He also made his mark as a vice-president of the Jamaican TUC and, on a wider regional level, was the assistant secretary of the Caribbean Labour Congress.
Having already written countless pieces on the history of the region Hart's work as an academic is now respected internationally and if you've not come across his writing before then this is as good an introduction as any.
Hart never made any secret of a self-styled "flexible" Marxism.
Although he was a founder member of the People's National Party in Jamaica, he was later expelled by Michael Manley because of his left-wing views.
In later years, Hart was to work in Guyana with Cheddi Jagan, a strong advocate of trade unionism, and later the New Jewel Movement of Grenada before the catastrophic US invasion of 1983.
Short, concise and well referenced throughout, Caribbean Workers' Struggles is a wide-ranging and immensely readable essay that gives centre stage to the struggle for workers' rights and national independence against the forces of racism and imperialism.
Anchored in the realities of class struggle and political economy, it's also a welcome response to the rather Eurocentric or sentimental accounts that have glossed over history as it has actually been lived.
A publishing venture that deserves support.
The Socialist History Society is launching Caribbean Workers' Struggles on December at 6.30 pm at the Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate London, EC2. Details: www.socialisthistory.wordpress.com.