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the different immigrant labour

schemes Discuss the push and pull factors for the different immigrant labour schemes. Identify the where the different immigrant labourers went. Discuss the recruitment and transportation of the different immigrant labourers. Assess the impact of the different immigrant labour schemes on the Caribbean.


Africans Europeans Madeirans Chinese Indians Javanese


were two phases of indentureship: Those undertaken before the abolition of slavery. This was because the planters anticipated a labour shortage and wanted to prevent it. Those immigrations that were undertaken because of a real perceived shortage after the final abolition of slavery.

Balance the African-European ration Provide immigrant labour to work land in colonies where there was unused land. This could correct the unfavourable balance between population and land. Build up an extra supply of labourers. Lower wages by setting up competition for jobs. Provide planters with a steady core of continuous labourers and restore the planters control over labour. Keep the sugar economy as is or even expand it and increase output.


the abolition of slavery, the Britishcolonised Caribbean territories also imported European labourers. The first group consisted of Portuguese from Azores. They went to Trinidad in 1834. In 1835, Jamaica followed. European labourers were recruited from Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Canary Islands, Cape Verde Islands


Trinidad and Colonial Guyana only attracted 4500 European immigrants. Colonial Guyana imported a significant number of Portuguese. 4312 in 1841. By 1882 32,000 Portuguese had reached Guyana.


Portuguese started to emigrate from Madeira in 1835. They were attracted by the prospect of higher wages and the opportunity to own land. In 1836 the scheme was banned because of the high mortality rate among the immigrants. The scheme re-opened in 1845 again because of famine in the country.


numbers went to British Guiana until the 1850. The scheme lasted from 1835-1882. 36000 Madeirans came over the period. 30,000 went to British Guiana, 2000 to Antigua, 1000 to Trinidad and 100 to Jamaica. The rest were dispersed among Grenada, St. Kitts, St. Vincent and Nevis.


did not satisfy the landholders desire for reliable, adequate and controllable workers. Many did not fulfill their contracts and deserted the fields for non-agricultural enterprises in the towns. Many complained that there was a great discrepancy between what they received and what they were promised when they were recruited. Many did not like their stay in the Caribbean .


died from diseases Inadequate provisions were made for their health and housing. They did not get used to the climate quickly. They drank too much rum. The damp unhealthy environments on the estates took their toll on the immigrants. Most of the European indentured labourers refused to work alongside the enslaved and withdrew from the estates.


Bahamas was among the earliest importers of West Africans. The scheme lasted from1811 to 1860. In 1840 African immigration to the rest of the Caribbean started. The Africans came from St. Helena, Liberia, Gambia, Kroo Coast and Sierra Leone. Some of these immigrants were rescued from slave ships.


were freed slaves or descendants of freed slaves, most notably the descendants of the Jamaica Maroons. In 1841 six shipments arrived in Jamaica alone. The mainly went to the parishes of St. Thomas, Westmoreland and St. Mary. The French colonised Caribbean imported 17,000 Africans after emancipation. Guadeloupe received 6,126, Martinique 10,659 and French Guyana 1,500. The scheme ended in 1871.

They worked on one year contracts that could be renewed. Some territories imposed a three year contract. They received low wages, 5d a day in Grenada in the first year, 10d in the second and 1/3 d in the third year. The death rate was not high on the plantations but on the ships. The Africans in Grenada and St. Vincent were suppose to receive free housing, medical attention, land on which to grow food, weekly rations and medicines.


Africans often forced the planters to obey the terms of their contract through their resistant behaviours. In all, about 36,000 free Africans came to the British West Indies under the scheme: 14,000 to British Guiana, 10, 000 to Jamaica, 8,000 to Trinidad and the rest to Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia and St. Kitts.


economically to the region through their work on the estates. They contributed to the peasantry. They helped to sustain and revitalize African culture in the Caribbean.

The first immigrant Asians in the Caribbean were 414 Indians who arrived in the Colonial Guyana in 414. This was called the Gladstone experiment. The Indians were imported on 5 years contract for six estates. Their treatment was poor and the death rate was so high on the estates. In 1843 the government banned the importations . The ban was lifted in 1844 and in1845 Colonial Guyana , Jamaica and Trinidad started the importation of Indians again.


escape economic distress, especially during times of famine. Some left hoping to earn higher wages. Others to escape their debt. Many left because they had lost property and status due to unfavourable British land policies. Western industrialization had undermined their industries, such as the cloth industry. Some women emigrated to escape oppressive marriages.


emigration offered a new

adventure. Famines


Years Colonial Guyana 1838-1917 Trinidad 1845-1917 Suriname 1873-1918 Guadeloupe 1854-1887 Jamaica 1845-1916 Martinique 1848-1884 St.Lucia 1858-1885 St. Vincent 1860-1880 St. Kitts 1860- 1861 French Guiana 1853-1885

Numbers 238,909 143, 939 34,024 42,595 38,681 25,509 4,354 2,472 337 19,296


did Trinidad and Guyana import the most Indian immigrants? How did immigrant labour impact the economy of Trinidad and Guyana? How do you think the high proportion of immigrants impacted both colonies socially?


landowners decided on how many immigrants they needed an application was sent to the central agency in the colony. Advertisements put out by each colonys Immigration Office inviting applications for immigrants also appeared. Immigration Officer processed all applications and send total numbers to the Colonial Office in London. The Crown agents in London pass on requests to the Emigration Office in Calcutta and Madras.


operation is then started. The Protector of Emigrants appoint recruiting agents. The agents appoint sub-agents to do the actual recruiting. Kutty Maistries in Madras and Arkatias in Calcutta travelled around the village to get recruits. Some people were kidnapped. Recruiters were paid a certain sum for each emigrant they persuaded.


were paid more for females than

males. Recruits were accompanied by men called messengers to the depots in areas of recruitment. They were then taken by train to embarkation depots at Madras and Calcutta. Here they were medically examined to ensure they were fit for the journey. The women were not given a detailed examination as the men.

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and women were accommodated in different parts of the ship. Married people were separated from single and the males separated from the males. The crew agents made sure that the ships had adequate crew, medical personnel, sweepers and cooks. Crew and immigrant were not allowed to mix, although this rule was not strictly enforced. There complaints from time to time of female sexual abuse.


the 19th century the journey on sailing ships could take up to three months, while steam ships could make the voyage in one to two months.


thought that importing women was uneconomical and they did not want the added expense of childrearing. Planters believed only men were able bodied labourers. Agents were penalized if they recruited women who were not single or widowed or women who had ran away from their husbands. The insistence on filling the female quota delayed ships.


women only moved when the whole family moved. Indian men objected to the type of medical examination given to women. Women were more difficult to persuade to emigrate.


for Sundays and certain public holidays such as Christmas and Easter time, the immigrants were required to labour on the estates at certain specific tasks. Fieldwork employed the largest number of men( digging, planting reaping and transporting) while the women and children did the weeding and manuring. Wages were usually higher for able-bodied men than women. Wages were low for the immigrant labourers.


wages resulted in the poor diet of the labourers. Free medical treatment was given to the immigrants by the estate authority in keeping with the colonial government requirements. Despite these services the standards of the immigrants remained very low. Immigrants suffered from diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever, malaria, hookworm and dysentry.


spread of diseases was aided by the poor state of sanitation of waste disposal, of water supply, housing conditions and the workers practice of going bare-footed. The most common dwellings of the immigrants were simple, uncomfortable wooden barrack-like structures called lodgies or ranges. There was poor ventilation, heavy overcrowding generally and an absolute lack of privacy were the main features of such dwellings.


virtually excluded any form of collective or individual bargaining. However, the labourers were not powerless. One response to poor living and working conditions was riots and strikes. The immigrants were bound by contracts. Breach of contract was treated as a criminal offence and all too often employers took legal action against Indians in order to punish them, maintain labour discipline and secure docility.


of immigrants took the form of separately or in combination, fines, imprisonment or and extension of indentureship.


immigration lasted for a long time but very large numbers did not come to the British West Indies, though they went to Cuba. It was not until 1853 that Chinese immigration to the British West Indies started. The immigrants came for better wages, opportunity of owning land, poor economic conditions as a result of natural disasters etc.

Trinidad Jamaica


Suriname Antigua Guadeloupe Cuba Martinique

13,533 2,645 1,152 2,502 100 500 150,000 1,000


Chinese government was opposed to it as it hurt Chinese pride after suffering successive defeats by the European powers. The immigrants would have settled more happily if women had been allowed to immigrate. Chinese immigration and transportation was more expensive than the other schemes. The mortality rate was very high. Chinese desirous of emigration for agricultural work could find it nearer home in Java and the Philippines.


was not a British colony and the British government could only try to persuade the Chinese government to allow emigration. When the Chinese immigrants found out that they were misled about the kind of work, they frequently refused to work. Chinese immigration proved to be an unsatisfactory, and unreliable as a permanent labour force on the sugar plantations.


undoubtedly helped perpetuate the inefficient use of labour. Nevertheless, in the first two or three decades immigration halted the economic decline of the colonies and brought them substantial prosperity. As a result of immigration sugar production increased between 1839 and 1903 from 17, 214 to 45,000 tons in Trinidad and 28,343 to 100,000 tons in Guyana.


importation of immigrants stimulated the expansion of social services, especially medical facilities which were first applied to the immigrants and then to the wider population. The stimulus which immigration gave to the sugar industry might have militated the diversification of the economy initially. However, immigrants swelled the ranks of shop-keepers and hucksters while many were involved in the peasantry.

The employment of immigrants in manual field labour opened up a wider range of employment for resident negroes and artisans, factory workers and policemen. The growth of the rice industry in Guyana and Trinidad was due to the East Indians. The Indians can also be attributed the introduction of age-old traditional Indian skill in irrigation. The entry of the various immigrant groups into the West Indies led to the emergence of a plural society where the races mix but did not combine.


different groups introduced different cultural practices into the Caribbean: religions, dances, foods, dress etc. Race tensions increased as Indians and African-Caribbean people developed stereotypes about each other. Immigration led to introduction of new technology especially in Trinidad and Guyana.