This year’s May Day looks set to offer anti-war and anti-privatisation activists across Britain a chance to take to the streets. The Greater London Trades Union Congress organises a march in London every year. Now trade unions have joined forces with Globalise Resistance to unite the labour movement and anti-capitalist activists.
May Day has traditionally been workers’ day. It began to be celebrated during the international working class’s campaign for an eight-hour day, at the end of the 19th century. The May Day protest march will rally in Trafalgar Square. This is a major victory after the government attempts to stifle May Day protests last year. This means there is a chance to make this year’s May Day a day of powerful protests against war and privatisation.
Zuky is a Globalise Resistance activist helping to organise the demo. He told Socialist Worker, ‘We want to connect social struggles with the anti-capitalist movement, and to make connections between the different movements. ‘What day could be better than May Day for doing that? The fact that it is in Trafalgar Square means that it will be the central May Day event in London,’ and in Britain as a whole.
People from around Britain are expected to converge on London to join the May Day demonstration in the capital. Mark Serwotka, general secretary elect of the PCS union, addressed the Socialist Alliance conference recently. His call for united action across the public sector and May Day rallies went down a storm.
Globalise Resistance has issued a statement: ‘Make May Day our day.’ It is encouraging people to use the statement in workplaces and colleges to build support for the demonstration. Tony Benn has signed the statement. It explains how unions and anti-corporate activists are uniting against Blair’s free market policies. ‘This is a big step towards reclaiming May Day as a day to celebrate working class organisation and resistance,’ the statement reads.
It explains that the groups involved in building the demo have different ideas, but all are united ‘for peace and against globalisation’. May Day protests are already winning serious support from the unions. Members of the Unison union are soon to be balloted for strike action in London. Delegates representing London Unison branches voted last week for the union to make it possible for May Day to be the day of any strike.
The east London branch of the firefighters’ FBU union is sponsoring the demo. Teachers are discussing the possibility of following up their last strike day with action on May Day. Activists in the post workers’ CWU union are encouraging members to join the demo after their shift.
Students are planning a serious campaign to publicise the demo in schools, colleges and universities. Globalise Resistance is setting up mobilising committees across Britain. Guy Taylor, a Globalise Resistance spokesperson, says, ‘It is easy to get involved. Contact us and we will help put you in touch with other activists in your town and organise for actions and events.’
Globalise Resistance supporters in Brighton organised a report back on the massive anti-capitalist Porto Alegre forum in Brazil, and joined the London Stop the War Coalition demo in March.
Globalise Resistance supporters organised eyewitness reports from the Barcelona protests. Now they are planning to join the CND demo this weekend, the protest against Henry Kissinger, and go all out for May Day.
Phone Globalise Resistance on 020 8980 3005.
THE SIGNIFICANCE of the mass demonstration two weeks ago is still reverberating in the city of Barcelona. Days before the demo against a Europe of capital and war, another 400,000 had marched.
This was a massive protest against the transfer of water to golf clubs, businesses and intensive farms in the south. The move would devastate the Ebro valley and destroy thousands of lives. For the following demo against the European Union summit the mobilisation was huge.
Small towns and villages across Catalonia turned out en masse. People came organised through youth clubs and theatre groups, as well as political parties. Steve lives and works in Barcelona. He told Socialist Worker, ‘There is a buzz-everyone is talking about it. ‘At last no one feels alone. Everyone knows it is popular to be against capitalist globalisation, and that we can do something.’ Politicians spent the week leading up to the demo trying to intimidate people out of marching.
They said the demonstrators would be supporting terrorism if they marched, because small numbers of Basque nationalists were marching too. They drafted over 8,500 police into the city. The threats made people more determined to stand up and be counted. Anne went on the march with her friend Rosa.
She said, ‘The best thing about the whole march was the way it demonstrates that despite their propaganda, despite their media control, people just aren’t stupid. This is the biggest demo yet. It shows more people are seeing through the rusty can of worms.’
OVER 50,000 workers have joined demonstrations in China. These are the largest organised protests since Tiananmen Square in 1989, according to activist Han Dongfang. Mass protests by workers in Daqing, China’s key oilfields in the north east, have been taking place for the past month.
Workers are battling against ‘reform’ of their jobs and wages in the wake of China joining the World Trade Organisation this year. The workers’ employer is the multinational PetroChina. Business Week described the firm as a ‘profit machine’.
It has laid off an estimated 86,000 out of 90,000 workers in three years . PetroChina wants to abolish the welfare payments laid off workers rely on. Daqing workers have set up an unofficial union committee challenging the government’s stranglehold on workers’ organisation. The government fears rising social unrest exacerbated by economic restructuring under the WTO.
Up to 10,000 factory workers in Liaoyang have held protests over the last few weeks. They are fighting back over unpaid wages and the arrest of their movement’s leaders.
UNITED FOR MAY DAY
No to privatisation No to war
Wednesday 1 May
Assemble 12 noon, Clerkenwell Green, London (Farringdon tube)
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