Amsterdam students’, university workers’ May Day action

This video from Glasgow in Scotland says about itself:

May Day Parade – Demonstration of Workers & Students & Activists

2 May 2012

Trade unionists and political activists assemble in the square in preparation for the annual Workers Day parade and red flags flutter in the wind as people get their banners unfurled. There is a strong anti-cuts theme and there is a large student contingent on the demonstration as well as other-anti-cuts activists. “Students and workers, unite and fight!” is one of the slogans heard frequently during the demo.

The march is headed by a pipe band and backed up by a UNITE trade union bus decked with the union banner and a slogan saying “Cuts kills communities”.

This is a video of May Day ’11 (Sunday 1st). The 2012 one is on Sunday 6/05/12 (the first Sunday of May). As well as a pipe band there is a brass band. Many unions follow including UNISON, GMB, UCATT, RMT, the STUC, various trades councils, political parties and student and anti-cuts activists and single issue campaigners.

There was a banner campaigning for human rights in the Gambia. The Black Triangle disability rights organisation was there to campaign against cuts in disabled facilties and benefits.

The Accord centre for the severely disabled is under attack as the local government want to flatten it to make way for a car park for the Commonwealth Games, although there are already plenty of car parks in or close to the city centre. Later on in the demo the slogan “Commonwealth games, Commonwealth shame! Save the Accord right now!” can be heard.

The STUC women’s committee banner can be seen as well as the EIS teachers union banner and the civil servants’ Public and Commercial Services union banner. GU Anti-cuts Action Network banner is there as well as the Free Hetherington Uni occupation banner.

“General strike! General strike!” is chanted by many of the demonstrators, as well as “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation!” and “Tory scum, here we come!”

When the demo passes an open deck tour bus tourists applaud the demonstraters. The demo passes the large glass building of the St Enoch Centre then under the railway bridge at the Saltmarket and Trongate. The Defend Glasgow Services banner is carried by trade unionists and a lone piper can be heard getting louder as he approaches. Some marchers were wearing a traditional worker’s cap or “bunnet”. Other people were dressed quite colourfully.

The Trongate clock tower chimes midday as the procession passes and the sound of chanting gets louder. “They say cut back; we say fight back” is the chant at this moment and a bicycle bell rings in time to the chant. One of the Save the Accord campaigners carries a placard reading “Booted by the suited.” i.e. booted out of their centre by the decision-makers in suits who don’t know the first thing about services and people’s needs.

One marcher speaking through a megaphone mentions the upcoming elections on Thursday and speaks in disgust about mainstream politics, reminding people that voting for mainstream politicians will make no difference since they are all pro-cuts.

When the demo arrives outside the rally venue in the old fruit-market at City Halls, Candleriggs, some people go in and others remain outside with banners. More marchers arrive chanting. Some flags say “Defend the welfare state. Welfare not warfare.”

Some demonstrators warn PM David Cameron that they might do things “Egyptian style“. Flags continue to flutter in the breeze including red CP flags and an Irish republican flag.

One activist wears an “Anonymous” Guy Fawkes mask. One demonstrater gives a speech about police harassment of anti-cuts activists. Most students and anti-cuts activists continue demonstrating in the town while most trade unions and politicians remain for the rally inside the old Fruitmarket venue. Various groups display information about their campaigns on stalls including SPSC, the People’s Charter, Clydebank asbestos group and various trade unions such as UNITE. Banners hang from the balcony including the anti-cuts “there is a better way” banner. There are videos of old May Days being shown, there is live music and a bar in the hall where some people enjoy a wee refreshment or three before the speeches start.

From the Students’ 1st of May Committee, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, today:


We are a group of students and university staff and we have occupied the UvA’s Service and Information Centre in the run-up to the first of May.

We have seen that the University of Amsterdam is structurally and deliberately mistreating and exploiting its employees – from professors and PhD students to the profi-sec security. The working load has become so high that university staff is forced to choose: either sacrifice quality of education or sacrifice their own wellness. Performance incentives pose the same impossible dilemma: between good research and the promise of a paycheck. Flex-contracts have become the norm: university staff cannot be sure their contracts will be renewed and academic freedom becomes subordinate to meeting management-imposed targets. When their period of high pressure labour is over, the employees can simply be disposed of. These policies put the profits of the corporate university before the agency and interests of its workers.

As students and staff, we realise that the policies that attack workers’ wages and social security, and those that destroy our education system, come from the same source: the insatiable lust for profit.

The UvA used to give its students and staff the day off on the first of May. Not any more, as of this year. The abolition of this international day of worker solidarity is yet another sign of the university’s blatant marketisation under the managers’ neoliberalism. This must be reversed. As a first step, the holiday of Labour Day must be reinstated. We demand that university staff be treated not as labour machines, but as people; that they be given secure contracts instead of disposable ones; that they be freed of the shackles of time-efficiency and corporate interest.

Students’ 1st of May Committee
Binnengasthuisstraat 9
1012 ZA Amsterdam

Meanwhile, police invaded the occupied building, looking for activists, but they had gone already.

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