Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, on Tuesday, launched his latest book, “The Political Economy of the Labour Movement in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.
He told the launch in Kingstown that the book is the sixth that he has written in the past seven years.
“I would like, certainly, in our party, I would; like that among the younger person to take this … carry the book and educational programme…” he said to an audience that included several of the younger candidates and activists on behalf of his Unity Labour Party.
“Other people can utilise it as they wish, and I am sure a number of students will use it for graduate work and so on — I mean to do their studies, including graduate work. But I have been a researcher for a long time and I have been writing for publications now since 1972. That is 47 years and the last seven years, six publications under my hand have been produced, including this one,” Gonsalves said.
Gonsalves, who has been prime minister since March 2001, said he has to find time to write.
“Look, I know that as prime minister and leader of a party, I am fair game for a lot of people with all sorts of things. Fair enough; I’m in it. But I am very conscious that at 72 I don’t have many years on Earth. And I have a lot of things that I want to say and I want to say them a way — I say them in Parliament, I say them on the public platform but I want to say them calmly inside of books so that young people can read and study. I’m not finished yet; I will be writing more and more.”
He said that people ask where he gets the time to write.
“The point is this, I have a boring job and I need to write in order to relieve my boredom,” he said to some laughter.
Tuesday’s event, which including a book signing, was chaired by head of the Commercial Technical and Allied Workers Union, Joseph “Burns” Bonadie, who is an advisor to Gonsalves on labour matters.
Bonadie is also head of the National Workers’ Institute for Research and Education, a post created by Gonsalves, and for which Bonadie gets some EC$80,000 from the national coffers annually, even as questions have been repeatedly asked about Bonadie’s role in that capacity.
St. Vincent-born Barbadian lawyer, David Comissiong, who is Bridgetown’s ambassador to CARICOM, gave a review of the book at the launch.
“This is a book that trade unions, that political parties, like the Unity Labour Party, are going to take and, out of the content in here, are going to be able to produce smaller monographs on a variety of topics, a variety of Vincentian political and trade union personalities,” Comissiong said.
Quoting the book, he noted that Gonsalves said he decided to write the book for three main reasons.
“Firstly, to provide the working people nationally, regionally and globally, especially the young with a coherent understanding and explanation of the history and political economy of the labour movement in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Secondly, to correct the many prejudices and anti-worker biases of the bourgeoisie and neo-liberal perspectives in their telling of the story of the labour movement in this country.
“And, thirdly, to reaffirm, yet again that the understanding and an explanation of a country’s political economy in the epoch of capitalism can be best perused through a thorough examination of its labour movement and the working people who constitute it.”
Commissiong said that, in the book, Gonsalves is giving “a detailed examination of the entire history of this country told from the perspective of the working people, of their organisations, both their trade unions and their political parties”.
Grenadian trade unionist, Chester Humphrey also spoke at the event.
Humphrey said the book is “a very important piece of reading for the entire community of St. Vincent and the Grenadines but particularly so for my fellow trade unionists”.
He said that the book codifies the experiences of the Vincentian working people “along the long trajectory and march that we have made as a people from pre-colonial times into the colonial period, the immediate post-colonial period and independence and the construct of a new modern national democratic state”.