Joe Young, a founding member of the Transport and Industrial Workers' Union (TIWU) and retired Industrial Court judge, died at the age of 80 at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital yesterday. He was described as a "great man" and mentor by Gregory Rousseau, current Industrial Court judge and president of the Trinidad and Tobago Schools Rugby Football Union. Rousseau said many workers in T&T owe a great deal to Young.
"Joe Young's contribution to T&T is immeasurable. Unionised and non-unionised workers owe Joe a great debt for the terms and conditions they enjoy today," Rousseau said. "Joe is the last of his kind, a special kind of trade unionist. "He is responsible for many practising trade unionists today who are beneficiaries of his advice and overall contribution."
Young worked as a typesetter with the Trinidad Guardian in the 1950s, before founding the TIWU in 1962 and was a frontline member of the United Labour Front (ULF) with George Weekes and Basdeo Panday in the 1970s. He was also an opposition senator with the ULF for approximately a year and a half.
Young continued work as a labour relations officer after he left politics and worked with the Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU) from 1993-1996. In 2000, he was appointed an Industrial Court judge and retired in 2003. He spent his later years as a farmer in Cumana, Toco. Rousseau said: "The trade union movement lost a great leader and I have lost the person I consider to be my mentor, comrade and friend."
He recalled on many occasions Young refused national awards because he believed only the people could honour him for his contribution to T&T. Young's son, Robert shared similar sentiments, saying of his father: "He was a person who searched for community and found it best within workers' struggles." Robert also said his father was self-taught and read widely.
Young leaves to mourn his wife, Grace, and seven children, including designers Robert and Richard Young, Raechelle and Rodney Young as well as Curtis Henry, Deborah Mohammed and Carl Henderson. Funeral arrangements are to be finalised.