In Trinidad and Tobago Labour Day was declared an annual national holiday in 1973. Celebrated on June 19th, it is the anniversary of the day of the Butler Oilfield Riots which took place in 1937.
Prior to this time there were ongoing tensions between workers and employers in many sectors of society. These were characterized by situations of worker abuse, underpayment for labour, racism, economic depression and a considerable fall in the living standards of the working class.
Between 1934 and 1937 workers became more influenced by a need for change resulting in strikes and riots which extended throughout the Caribbean. This gave rise to several prominent labour leaders in Trinidad and Tobago such as Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler.
Butler was awarded the nation’s highest honour, the Trinity Cross, and the country’s main highway has been re-named in his honour. Today, a statue of Butler stands at the Fyzabad junction, the place where police attempted to arrest him on June 19th, the day of the historic riots 1937.
Labour Day is marked by trade union marches and gatherings in Fyzabad every year.