The Burma Road Riot
On June 3,1942 thousands of Bahamian workers came to Bay Street in a march of solidarity that would
come to be known as “The Burma Road Riot”.The riot was a result of years of oppression of Bahamian
workers but was triggered by a wage dispute involving Bahamian construction workers at the Oakes
Field Airport.The wages for all workers was set at four shillings per day even though the Pleasantville
Construction Company was willing to pay eight shillings per day.The white ...view middle of the document...
As a result a number of requests were made to the Labour Officer by the Bahamas
Fedration of Labour for increase wages,but the prevailing attitude was,”take it or leave it”.
Once workers learned that the white minority prevented their wage increase,they decided to
demonstrate,but the demonstarion became a riot.The city was in a state of emergency,and in the
mayhem,stores were looted and four men loss their lives while others were injured.The ruling class
could no longer ignore the workers cries for more equitable wages.Following a discussion
with the Duke of Windsor where the workers were represented by Milo Butler,A.F.Adderly,Percy
Christie and Dr.Claudius Walker the workers were granted an increase of one shilling per day and a free
meal at lunch.
The Burma Road Riot was a critical element in the fight for workers rights and resulted in the first
increase in wages for Bahamian workers and the first fringe benefit which was a free meal.The Riot was
also the catalyst for organized labour in the Bahamas.Unions that were formed between 1942 and 1958
included the Bahamas Taxi Cab Union,The Bahamas Union Of Teachers,The Bahamas Hotel Catering and
Allied Workers Union