It was on 25th May 1950, a mere five years after World War ll, a few workers of the then Trinidad Consolidated Telephones Company Limited gathered at their workplace situated at 67 Henry Street to pool their meager financial resources and to pledge their time and talents through which they could empower themselves and take ownership for bringing some stability to their lives..
Among those early members was Carlton Richards, the first president, who related that he propagated the idea after a suggestion by O.C Hendy, a supervisor who had given him (Richards) literature on credit unionism. Other members included Lloyd Clarence, Hugh Luces, Julius Borney, Cipriani Dowdy, Beresford Queeley, and Rowland Parris among others.
In the ensuing years many more persons have served which include but not limited to Valmond Achong, David O’Brien, Aldric Roberts, Malcolm Joseph, Victor Jennings, Joseph Corbie, Trevor Alleyne, St.Clair Davis, Vernon Toussaint, Stanley Dickson, Carlton Savary, Alfred Sandy, Lennox Narine, Selwyn MacDonald, Leslie Dalton, Arthur Carlow, Merle Henry, Winnifred Harper-Bailey, Yvette Kong, Lynda Sheppard-Babb, Alfred Noel, Hamilton Scoon, Malcolm Henry.
The society was registered on June 17th 1950 with 38 members and a share capital of fifty-one (51) dollars. A share was five (5) dollars but the majority of members were weekly paid therefore shares were purchased by paying $1.00 per week. The Treasurer would sit in the company’s yard on Fridays (payday) to virtually cajole members to pay as they felt that their wages were too small for them to save and therefore they were would try to avoid him.
TWCU ‘s common bond has been employment of members in the Trinidad Consolidated Telephones Ltd, and its successive incarnations as Trinidad and Tobago Telephone Service Ltd, Trinidad and Tobago Telephone Company Ltd and currently Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago Limited. Subsequently the bond has been extended but limited to include spouses and children of those members who work in the company. The history of the company and TWCU is linked and therefore the fortunes of the industry and the struggle of the workers who are members have impacted on the growth and development of the credit union.
TWCU was formed in an era when wages were low in the company and in wider society generally, therefore it was a struggle to make ends meet among the working class. The company was privately owned by British interests and managed locally by British expatriates. Confidence in the credit union was impaired by the fact that workers were reluctant to save in the credit union as they were afraid that the management would know of their savings (as the then Treasurer was close to the company management). They believed that if management perceived that workers could save on their current wages any increase would be resisted.
The year 1960 saw dramatic changes for the company and TWCU after an historic 123 day strike (a record for the colony and the Caribbean at that time) called by the Communication Workers Union. The company was acquired subsequently by the government of the day at a cost of $12,971,519.02. It was a revolutionary change, as the company was totally restructured; the trade union was recognized; wages and salaries were increased, and upward mobility for workers became a reality
The climate of change that prevailed after 1960 was an impetus for renewed efforts to build the credit union. David O’Brien came forward at this critical juncture. He has been honoured along with Selwyn MacDonald by naming our learning centre -- The David O’Brien/Selwyn MacDonald Learning Resource Centre. O’Brien became the Treasurer and was seconded, on his request, by the company to work full time for a period of time to consolidate the operations of the credit union. The company also granted a small area to be used as an office.
This was a progressive step as TWCU had previously operated out of the office desk of the former Treasurer. The company also agreed to the check off system for shares and loan repayments which boosted the viability of the credit union. Ms Emerald Dickson was the first employee and has been an integral part of the growth and evolution of our credit union.
Other pioneering staff includes Rosetta Bedeau and Ena Primus-Richards, administrative officers. The Co-operative Department, the Co-operative Credit Union League and the Northwest Regional Chapter (formerly Port-of-Spain Chapter) and CUNA Insurance Society have contributed in large measure to TWCU’s growth and development in the formative years. We pay tribute to some pioneering co-operators Raymond Cummings, Kerry Newallo and Thomas Rampersad (all deceased) who demonstrated commitment to and special interest in our progress.
In the succeeding decades, efforts continued to build the integrity of the credit union which resulted in attracting employees from all levels. The decade of the 70’s, saw the introduction of computerization. Our offices at 105/107 Henry Street were acquired in the decade of the 80’s. TWCU grew and developed closely adhering to the co-operative philosophy and principles. In addition to co-operative education, our skills development courses have provided income generation for members.
We have focused on our youth members, by not only encouraging parents to join them from birth but we have provided them with on -the -job training, skills training and awards for academic excellence.
In adherence to the co-operative principle of community responsibility, TWCU has supported social organizations and has jointly sponsored a Reading competition as well as the National Primary Schools Choral Speaking competition with the Ministry of Education.
Our 1979 Annual General Meeting report shows assets of $2M dollars and 907 members compared to financial status in 2012 of $427M in assets and 5300 members. The figures illustrate growth but the true indicators of our success are the thousands of lives that have touched and the standard of living that members have achieved. PROGRESS THROUGH SELF RELIANCE is our motto as we strive to maintain ONE CREDIT UNION, ONE FAMILY.
For today, in 2020 and into the future, we shall be known and referred to TWCU Co-operative Society Limited.