Man of and for the People
Sir Frank Leslie Walcott (1916 – 1999) is known for being a fearless and formidable man and was born in St. Peter, in the north of Barbados, and raised in Bridgetown, the nation’s capital.
He was most notably a passionate Barbadian trade unionist, a politician, and an ambassador, playing a pivotal role in organizing the Barbados Labour Movement.
Describing himself as ‘Frank by name and Frank by nature,’ Walcott is most often remembered as Barbados’s most critical trade unionism personality.
Sir Frank distinguished himself on all levels – locally, regionally, and internationally. Not only did he organize workers and negotiate on their behalf, but he also was known for having a visionary approach to bargaining for improved conditions for the working Barbadian population.
How Did it all Begin?
Sir Frank Walcott was invited by the leaders of the Progressive League, Sir Hugh Worrell Springer and Grantley Adams, to join the labor movement.
Sir Frank began his vocation as an active unionist and, in 1945, became the assistant of Sir Hugh Springer, the General Secretary to the Progressive League. A year later, in 1946, Walcott became fully employed by the island’s first trade union, the Barbados Worker’s Union. When Sir Hugh left the union in 1947, Sir Frank Walcott was appointed as successor to the Barbados Workers Union’s prestigious General Secretary position.
Walcott also served three separate terms as president of the Caribbean Congress of Labour, as well as serving in the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization. He also served with the American Institute for Free Labour Development and was Chairman of the World Employment Conference.
Walcott – Working for Workers
Sir Frank Walcott served as a Member of Parliament in the Barbados House of Assembly, representing the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) from 1945 to 1966 and again from 1971 to 1976.
Between these periods, Sir Frank served as a Senator and was President of the Senate from 1986 until 1991, when he retired from public life.
By 1953, he was elected to the Executive Board of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, a position he also served until his retirement.
Between 1958 and 1991, he earned his name as ‘the union’s most forceful personality’ by making the BWU as durable as any other in the region with his visionary outlook and determined spirit.
Did you know?
Sir Frank Walcott spent forty-five (45) years as an employee of the Barbados Worker’s Union.
Honors and Legacy
Benefits such as The National Insurance Scheme and Maternity Leave are among the many achievements accomplished by this great Barbadian.
After Barbados gained independence in 1966, Walcott served as the nation’s first Ambassador to the United Nations.
In 1954, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
In 1987 Walcott bestowed the highest honor in Barbados – Knight of St. Andrew (KA) of the Order of Barbados.
— The Sir Frank Walcott building in Saint Michael, Barbados, is also named in his honor.
In 1998, by an act of Parliament, Sir Frank Walcott was publicly honored by being named one of the ten official National Heroes of Barbados. They were paying tribute to a man of great respect who made an immeasurable contribution to the Barbadian workforce and distinguished himself locally, regionally, and internationally.
Did you know?
Sir Frank Walcotts was an exceptional cricket umpire.
Last Updated: December 23rd, 2022
Publisher: Totally Barbados