Categorized | National News

Trade Unionist Dies at 80

Alexander Thompson, a trade unionist who served The Bahamas with great distinction, died last Wednesday at the age of 80 following a long illness.

Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes extended condolences to Mr. Thompson’s family on behalf of the government.

Mr. Foulkes said Mr. Thompson fought tirelessly for Bahamian workers and The Bahamas has lost a true nation builder.

Mr. Thompson was born on the island of Andros in 1937, in the settlement of Stanyard Creek.

As a little boy in Andros, he worked with the mail boat collecting the mailbag and delivering groceries.

Always seeking ways to assist, he performed odd jobs around the church and the neighbourhood.

He attended St. Faith Primary School in Fresh Creek, Andros and was taught by Edith B. Riley.

While attending St. Faith Primary School he worked at the church after school hours. He also worked as a water boy, cleaning the mission house and as a sexton of the church, ringing the bell. He carried out these duties until he left school.

On February 20, 1954 the Lighthouse Club in Fresh Creek opened its doors for business. Alexander was hired as a bellboy and his duties included going to the airport to unload the plane as the guests arrived.

He was responsible for taking the guests and their baggage to the car, driving them to the hotel and delivering their baggage to the guest rooms.

Lady Bancroft replaced Madam de Griffinberz as a hostess, which entailed going to the airport and greeting the guests. In those days, because of segregation and discrimination, not very many black persons could hold that position.

Mr. Thompson moved to Nassau at the age of 21 and was married a year later. He is a devoted Methodist.

In 1960, he ran for the trustee seat in the Hotel Union and lost by 12 votes.  The following year, in 1961, he ran again and was successful, and held the seat until 1967.

In 1967, he ran for the position of treasurer in the Hotel Union, which he won and held the seat until 1982.

To-date, he remains the longest serving treasurer in the Hotel Union.

In 1965, he studied bartending at the Hotel Training School. Over the years, he attended various conferences and ILO Conventions on the distribution of gratuities, labour laws and industrial relations in Geneva Switzerland, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Antigua and Barbuda.

In 1982, he ran for the position of vice president of the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union, a seat that he successfully won and held until 2002.

During this time he, along with a team of others was able to negotiate the following benefits among others: –

  • A five day work week
  • 15 percent gratuity
  • Overtime
  • Maternity leave
  • Seminars for shop steward

Mr. Thompson was also the catering and food and beverage manager for the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union during his tenure as vice president.

Additionally, in 1987 he attended the Trade Union Institute in Israel, where he studied industrial relations.

Although retired since 2002, Mr. Thompson was oftentimes called upon for advice on labour matters and was esteemed as a labour advocate.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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