The Public Services Association (PSA) evolved from the Civil Service Association (CSA) which was formed in 1938. In an era where Trinidad and Tobago, like many other countries in the Caribbean, faced industrial action among workers and national strikes from workers who were protesting the terms and conditions of their employment.
Even though the Colonial Governments of the Caribbean were encouraged by the British Government to enact Trade Union legislation, many were slow to do so. Trinidad and Tobago was among them.
Many In Trinidad and Tobago believed the working conditions of the civil servant were better than those of other workers, by virtue of their education, the nature of their work and the standing the civil servant held in society. However this was not entirely accurate. The Civil Service remained largely exclusionary to certain ethnic and religious groups in the society despite their qualifications; and civil service really endured poor working conditions.
It was within this context that the CSA was formed. Notably, three men, A.A. Thompson, Eric Patience and Joseph Superville, all members of the civil service holding meetings with others civil servants and groups at the then Trinidad Cooperative Bank, also known as the “Penny Bank”.
These mobilization meetings culminated in the a letter of request to the Colonial Secretary on October 24, 1938 asking if the State had any objection to the Junior Clerks forming a Civil Service Association. The reply came on November 4, 1938 indicating there was no objection.
The inaugural meeting of the CSA was held on November 19, 1938. At that first session John Lyon Smith was elected President, A. A. Thompson was named Vice President, Dorothy Sarah Carr, Vice President, Eric Patience was named Secretary and George Edgar Stanford was named Treasurer.
A ten-man provisional committee, which included the Secretary, was included to establish the constitution which was adopted on December 9, 1938.