25 thoughts on “May Day in many countries

  1. A comrade sent this report on the London May day event: it sound utterly dreadful:

    The “official” May Day parade was absolutely atrocious. I’ve only been to a couple before but it definitely seemed significantly worse this time. Very old, and the Stalinism was less diluted by other forces – maybe I missed it, but I saw only a handful of trade union banners/flags, and I didn’t see any explicit anti-authoritarian left (i.e. trot, anarchist, etc etc) presence aside from the tiny handful around us and a thin smattering of SWP placards. The rest of the Precarious Workers Bloc people sacked off the main march and I can’t blame them. The only actual, immediate demands I saw on placards or banners were pro-Assad ones, “free Assange” and a handful of civil liberties campaigners who were doing a privacy/spycops thing and who I think left soon after we set off (again, can’t blame them).

    My main feeling throughout the whole thing was absolute horror at the knowledge that passers-by would quite reasonably have assumed we were with these scumbags. This came to a head when a pedestrian came up to me while I was holding the Labour Campaign for Free Movement banner and shouted “Jew-hating Nazi scum” in my face. He was gone before I could muster a reply but honestly I could hardly blame him – it was not an unreasonable level of hostility given the evidence before him of who we were associating with.

    Shortly after that – about 2/3 of the way through the main march – we, the IRMT and the couple of friends with our little crowd just bailed out and walked to Trafalgar Square separately to meet the Precarious Workers Bloc comrades. We weren’t achieving anything by our presence other than to tarnish the reputations of the Shahrokh Zamani campaign and the LCFM by being associated with North Korean flags and the rest.

    I think we need to consider our involvement. It’s not enough for a handful of people to go on it even if we bring a few placards or banners saying better things then the bastards. We might meet a couple of people in the square beforehand but we also end up visibly associated with, and not explicitly disowning, the absolute worst, most offensive and alienating dregs of the “left”. I think we do more damage than good.

    What’s required is not just NON-stalinist politics, but specifically ANTI-stalinist politics shoved into the march, expressed with a directness and terms that are easily comprehensible not just to other leftists but to passers-by horrified by a parade of Stalin pictures. So things saying solidarity with ongoing Chinese workers’ struggles, “Replace Maduro with Venezuelan workers’ democracy”, “remember Solidarnosc”, “remember Tiananmen”, “Stalin murdered the revolution – never again”, “neither Washington nor Moscow”, “socialism means freedom not gulags” etc etc.

    We might also consider, now, throwing motions at upcoming trade union and Labour Party meetings expressing shame and disappointment that these images were what represented the workers’ movement, and calling for some way forward – not sure exactly what though. Some democratic discussion/meeting about the running of the thing? Re-orienting the march to actual demands or particular struggles rather than a generic wander through London?

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  2. This report about that same London march

    https://dearkitty1.wordpress.com/2018/05/01/big-may-day-march-in-london-england/

    is completely different from the anonymous ‘comrade’s (not so surprising maybe, as in a demonstration of thousands of people it is not realistic to expect all participants see the same things, or think 100% the same on 100% of issues).

    It mentions the very ‘actual. immediate’ issue of the Conservative government’s racist Windrush deportations. And the speech by Zita Holbourne, of Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts, against that.

    The blog post here above says (quoted): There were trade union banners from the South East Region of the TUC, ASLEF, PCS, Unite, RMT, POA, and other trade union flags.

    Other ‘actual, immediate’ issues mentioned:

    ‘Transport union RMT general secretary Mick Cash called for solidarity with McDonald’s workers taking strike action today and talked about his own union’s battle against the rail operators’ drive to strip away safety-critical staff. “It has been three years of our fight to keep guards on trains”, he said. “This dispute is about making sure they do not place profit before safety.

    “If the government have their way, there will be millions of guard-less trains running, making it less safe and less accessible.

    “We are not giving up and will fight till the last person to keep railways safe.’

    Another ‘actual, immediate’ issue mentioned:

    ‘[Kurdish] British film-maker Mehmet Aksoy, who was killed in September while filming in Raqqa, Syria, was also commemorated as a lifelong workers’ rights activist. Mr Aksoy had spoken many times at Trafalgar Square May Day rallies.’

    The SERTUC and other trade union organisations are the organizers of the London May Day. Not Joseph Stalin, who died in 1953, paranormally from beyond his grave.

    That ‘comrade’ you mention reacted rather strangely to abusively being called ‘Jew hating nazi scum’ by a pedestrian who knew nothing about him/her, either personally or politically,. Many people would call this kind of reaction to unfair abuse: masochism. It would be understandable if before or after that ‘comrade’ in the demonstration there would have been banners with swastikas and/or attacking Jews . But I have not read anywhere about such banners in that demonstration, also not in the anonymous comrade’s report.

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    • The comrade I’ve quoted is only “anonymous” because I chose not to give their name as I don’t have their permission. But I’ve no reason to doubt the accuracy of their account, as (a) it tallies with my own observations when attending on previous years (but now it seems, worse) and (b) several other participants record the same obnoxious banners, iconography and slogans: http://brockley.blogspot.co.uk/2018/05/the-return-of-stalinism-on-british-left.html

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      • I have in itself no objection to that anonimity; it merely has as a consequence that I don’t react to it by name. I do object to what many people would call ‘masochism’: being abused by someone who does not know anything about you as supposedly ‘Jew-hating nazi scum’; while neither their own report nor the report I quoted on my blog mentions any Jew-hating banner at the May Day march. It also says there were no present issues at the march; while the other report mentions the attention at the march for the Conservative Windrush scandal, the McDonald’s workers’strike, the railways dispute and the Kurds in Turkey and Syria.

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        • I strongly suspect the “Jew-hating Nazi scum” abuse the comrade received was in response to the presence of Stalinist iconography, pro-Assad banners, etc, rather than to any specific anti-Semitic banners or slogans on the march and demo (the comrade hasn’t suggested there was). Of course, we can argue that Stalinism isn’t the same thing as Nazism, but it certainly *was* characterised by mass murder and state-sponsored anti-Semitism, which is why the comrade says he “could hardly blame” the passer-by who shouted the abuse.

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          • So, a non-anti-Semite was abused as supposedly an anti-Semite because of a few banners, not carried by that person, which were not anti-Semitic either. Very ‘logical’. Most Stalin portraits etc. at May Day marches, by the way, are brought by Kurdish, Turkish, other immigrant/refugee workers. That has to do with the peculiar history of their countries. One can hardly blame the organizers, the South East England TUC, for that.

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            • I don’t know who the person shouting the abuse was, but I think it’s quite possible that he (or she) was someone very well acquainted with the old USSR and other Stalinist states’ foul history of state-sponsored anti-Semitism. Those “few banners” included portraits of Stalin (and another mass-murderer, Mao). The presence of Stalin iconography on banners, etc, is *not* acceptable, regardless of who brings them. BTW: in my experience, Kurdish refugees have no time for Stalinism. The Turkish Stalinists (who have traditionally been prominent in organising the march) are not representative of Turkish refugees and migrants in the UK and should not be allowed to pollute the labour movement with their filthy iconography. This is a matter in which there can be no room for compromise.

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  3. Iranian workers march on May Day in defiance of authorities

    Workers defied a ban by Iranian authorities and gathered in front of the Workers House in Tehran to celebrate May Day. Security forces tried to intervene, but following a discussion with a workers’ spokesman a march set off towards Republic Avenue.

    According to Iran Human Rights Monitor, Iran’s State Security Force reportedly arrested a number of activists in Tehran and Iranian Kurdistan Province.

    State police attacked a May Day rally held in Saghez, Kurdistan Province, injuring Mahmoud Salehi, a prominent labour activist and arrested a number of protesters.

    Other reports from Tehran indicate that at least nine people were also arrested for rallying outside the parliament in Tehran.

    Tunisian workers hold May Day rally

    Over 7,000 members of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) held a May Day rally in Tunis in the Menzah Sports Palace, addressed by the UGTT general secretary.
    Europe

    May Day protests in France

    May Day marches took place in France on the 50th anniversary of the May Day events of 1968, which brought the country to the brink of revolution. The organisers declared 55,000 marched in Paris while police said 20,000—testament to the demobilisation of the working class by the trade unions since a quarter of a million demonstrated last September against Macron’s labour reforms.

    Police attacked demonstrators using teargas and water cannon, making around 100 arrests.

    Rail workers were to strike for two days from Thursday as part of their ongoing three-month protest at Macron’s plans to privatize the state railways SNCF, cut jobs and attack conditions including pensions. The CGT trade union called the action off until the legislation goes to the Senate.

    Thousands of Air France pilots, cabin crew and ground staff were also to begin a 48-hour strike on Thursday, for a 6 percent pay rise. They are being balloted over a 7 percent offer over four years. The result of the ballot is due Friday. The CFDT, one of 10 unions, is recommending acceptance.

    May Day protest and strikes in Greece

    Workers joined a May Day rally in the Greek capital Athens on Tuesday, called by unions ADEDY and GSEE. An hour earlier the Stalinist-dominated PAME held a rally. They were protesting the ongoing austerity measures imposed by the Syriza-led government carrying out European Union-dictated bailout measures. Rail and trolley bus services in the city stopped.

    A 24-hour strike by seamen in the Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation protested government attacks on pensions and reductions in minimum crew numbers.

    Strike by McDonald’s fast food staff at five UK stores

    Workers at McDonald’s fast food restaurants in Manchester, Watford, Crayford and Cambridge went on strike Tuesday. Members of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union are demanding a minimum £10 an hour, an end to zero hours contracts and wage discrimination for younger workers, and for union recognition. The company, which employs 120,000, said 11 workers were on strike.

    McDonalds workers struck last September for the first time.

    UK cinema staff in May Day protests

    Cinema workers at the London Picturehouse chain took part in a series of protests across London Tuesday. They have been involved in a long-running campaign for the London living wage of £10.20 an hour, sick pay, maternity pay and union recognition.

    The members of the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre union held protests at various sites, including Picturehouse Central.

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/05/04/work-m04.html

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  5. Switzerland: Labour Day for Rojava

    Demonstrations and rallies were held in 20 cantons of Switzerland to mark May 1 Workers’ Day.

    Swiss and migrants living in Switzerland gathered in 20 cantons to join over 50 rallies and demos to celebrate Labor Day. 
The largest celebration this year was in Zurich and Geneva, like every year. Kurdish and Turkish organizations saluted the resistance by the Kurdish Struggle for Freedom, and condemned the AKP-MHP fascist regime.

    Workers, trade unions, NGOs and political parties that come together in actions and events highlighted issues such as the elimination of salary disparities between men and women and the improvement of working conditions.

    ZURICH

    Like every year, the main center for Labor Day celebrations was Zurich. More than 10 thousand people gathered in Helvetiaplatz in the morning and walked from there to the rally site.

    Demands such as the elimination of salary inequalities and the improvement of working conditions were brought forward by political parties and trade unions. Anarchist and alternative groups on the other hand put their emphasis on the capitalist system’s exploitation of human labor and stressed that another is possible and can be achieved through resistance.

    Rallying with their own colors, flags and banners Kurdish and Turkish left organizations condemned the AKP-MHP fascist regime and chanted slogans supporting the resistance in Rojava and Afrin.

    GENEVA

    Thousands of workers and laborers joined the rally in Geneva.

    The Kurdish people and their friends participated to the rally with the PKK, YPG, YPJ flags and posters of the Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan.

    The anarchists and young people from alternative circles were by large the most colourful, noisy and spectacular section of the rally. They chanted slogans like: “No state, no system, no manager, anarchism and the struggle of the peoples” and “an alternative life for capitalism is possible”.

    WINTERTHUR

    In Winterthur Labor Day was also celebrated with a rally that was joined by the Kurdish people and Swiss friends.

    The Swiss left and anarchist groups were carrying YPJ, YPG flags and burned a model of a Turkish tank to give a message of solidarity with Afrin.

    While the slogans against the Turkish state were applauded by those who participated in the march, the speeches emphasized that there was a resistance in the name of humanity in Rojava.

    In the rallies organized in Bern, Basel and many other cities, Erdogan’s fascist regime was condemned and Rojava and Kurdistan resistance were saluted.

    Source: ANF GENEVA 02-05-2018

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