The Barbados Workers Union (BWU) paid tribute to Erskine LeVere Richards who passed away earlier Tuesday at age 82.
Richards was a member of the BWU for more than 40 years, distinguishing himself as a staunch defender of workers, mainly in the hotel and tourism sector.
He represented the organisation on several boards including the Appeals Tribunal of the National Insurance Board and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, among others.
The full tribute follows:
The Executive Council of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) today bids a sad farewell to our friend and colleague Erskine LeVere Richards.
Comrade Richards became a member of staff of the BWU on May 1, 1970 as island supervisor/public relations officer. Throughout his near 45-year career with the organisation, he has held the positions of regional assistant, assistant general secretary, and assistant director of organising.
A previous government worker and night auditor at the Hilton, his portfolio at the BWU was extensive, covering a range of workers employed in the public and the private sectors, including construction, food & beverage, manufacturing and hotel & tourism.
He quickly made an impressive mark in the Sugar and Hotel industries and in the various Estates where the Barbados implementation of the Sir Arthur Lewis Programme for the Caribbean – Industrialisation by Invitation led to the recruitment of large numbers of workers.
He was best known for his contribution in lifting the standards of training for workers in the hotel industry and the wider tourism sector, the highlight of which came through his spearheading of the annual Hotel Workers’ Week.
Alongside other stalwarts LeVere Richards became part of the folklore of the movement, among those Union officials who worked tirelessly in building a new platform for labour to succeed Sugar which was slowly giving way to construction, to tourism, and to light industries.
Former General Secretary of the BWU, Sir Roy Trotman noted, “Many of you may not recall that LeVere, like Livingstone Greaves a former BWIA Manager, gave a lifetime to Tourism. He first served as a part of the Tourism Board, and especially as a member of the Board’s promotional team starting as far back as 1975. In 1990, he added to this work his service as a member of the St Joseph Hospital appointed by Government to work on a rehabilitation programme for that St Peter institution, which was located only a few hundred yards from his birth place.”
Comrade Richards was also well known in the Caribbean and on the international level, having sat on the International Union of Food, Agriculture, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) as the regional secretary for 16 years.
He represented the BWU on several national boards including the Appeals Tribunal of the National Insurance Board, the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Caribbean Regional Office of the IUF and a number of other committees of the Ministry of Tourism.
Richards will be remembered as a titan in the trade union movement, strong on principle and a fierce defender of workers’ rights. Many spoke of him today as being an overall nice human being with a soft heart.
Sincerest condolences to his immediate family, other relatives and friends from the Barbados Workers’ Union family and from the Moore family.
‘Sleep well dear friend, you will be sorely missed.’ (PR/SAT)