Richard Hart 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 by Norman Manley to assist Alexander Bustamante in the formation of a trade union, he had the responsibility of drafting a model trade union constitution.
He was in 1939 the Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Council, which subsequently became the Trade Union Council. He was the President of the Jamaica Government Railway Employees Union from 1942 until its merger with other unions in 1948, he was a Vice President of the Trade Union Congress of Jamaica from 1949 to 1953.
On the wider regional plain he was Assistant Secretary of the Caribbean Labour Congress on its formation in 1945 and its Secretary from 1946 until its demise in 1953.
Hart’s was one of the Four H’s who helped to form the People’s National Party in 1938 and worked for it from its earliest days. . In 1940, while Bustamante was in prison for his inflammatory speeches and the Bustamante-Manley team was still in vogue, Hart was arrested for organising a demonstration demanding his release; and in 1942 he was put in jail without trial by the British colonial government for his political activities.
He was a member of the PNP’s Executive Committee from 1941 to 1952
Upon release from prison, Bustamante withdrew his support from the PNP and formed his own party, the JLP. After losing the first two national elections, the PNP, led by Norman Manley, yielded to the anti-communist propaganda of the JLP and expelled the Four H’s from the party.
After being expelled from the PNP, Hart formed the People’s Freedom Movement (which was later renamed the Socialist Party of Jamaica). The party disbanded in 1962.
Hart served for a year as Attorney-General under the People’s Revolutionary Government in Grenada; and was a prolific writer, author of numerous publications that included The Slaves who Abolished Slavery: Blacks in Rebellion; Towards Decolonisation: Political, Labour and Economic Developments in Jamaica 1939–1945; The Grenada Revolution: Setting the Record Straight; and remarkably in the last two years when he was in his nineties, Caribbean Workers Struggles, and Occupation & Control: the British in Jamaica 1660-1962, published by the Jamaica based Arawak Publications this year.
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