May Day 2020 during coronavirus, reports

This 1 May 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

ILWU 10/34 Shutdown On 2020 May Day Rally/Caravan In Oakland. An Injury To One Is An Injury To All!

ILWU Locals 10 & 34 on 5/1/20 shutdown the docks and joined with other unionists and community members to commemorate May Day with a rally and also a labor community caravan through Oakland.

The ILWU talked about the fight to protect their health and safety with PPE and the [billionaires’] demand that workers go back to work under unsafe conditions. Striking UCSC graduate students spoke out as well as teachers and immigrant worker organizers.

This 1 May 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Workers Raise Middle Finger To America’s Largest Companies

An unprecedented coalition of workers from America’s largest companies strike. John Iadarola and Brett Erlich break it down on The Damage Report.

“AN UNPRECEDENTED COALITION of workers from some of America’s largest companies will strike on Friday. Workers from Amazon, Instacart, Whole Foods, Walmart, Target, and FedEx are slated to walk out on work, citing what they say is their employers’ record profits at the expense of workers’ health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

The employees will call out sick or walk off the job during their lunch break, according to a press release set to be published by organizers on Wednesday. In some locations, rank-and-file union members will join workers outside their warehouses and storefronts to support the demonstrations.

“We are acting in conjunction with workers at Amazon, Target, Instacart and other companies for International Worker’s Day to show solidarity with other essential workers in our struggle for better protections and benefits in the pandemic,” said Daniel Steinbrook, a Whole Foods employee and strike organizer.”

Read more here.

This 1 May 2020 video from the USA is Senator Bernie Sanders‘ May Day 2020 message.

This 1 May 2020 video says about itself:

May Day 2020 Special – Srećko Horvat

The coronavirus crisis is revealing that the powers that be of the European Union have learned nothing from the Eurocrisis.

They are currently betraying the interests of the majority of Europeans in the same way that they have done so in 2010 — by failing to mobilize existing money and public financial instruments in the interests of the many. With their current decisions, they are jeopardizing public health, public goods and the interests of Europeans.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 1 May 2020:

May Day 2020 around the world: in pictures

AS THE world still grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s International Workers’ Day is like no other.

Below are images from around the world of working people standing up for their rights as workers and marking the struggles of those who fought before.

People in Paris take part in a banned gathering as part of the May Day demonstrations.

Turkish police officers trampling carnations left by demonstrators during banned May Day protests in Istanbul

This photo shows Turkish police officers trampling carnations left by demonstrators during banned May Day protests in Istanbul.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 1 May 2020:

Workers across the world demand protections for key workers in scaled back May Day celebrations

WORKERS across the world pressed demands for the protection of those on the front line as May Day celebrations were scaled back as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic today.

General secretary of France’s CGT trade union federation Philippe Martinez said: “This is an opportunity to bear the social demands that we have been defending for a long time and that the crisis has highlighted.”

The country remains on lockdown and the rally traditionally held in Paris was cancelled with people urged to flood social media and join solidarity actions on their balconies.

May Day and coronavirus pandemic

This 1 May 2020 video from Greece says about itself:

May Day 2020: Workers singing “The Internationale” in Syntagma Square Athens

Video from the Workers’ Day event organized by the All-Workers Militant Front (PAME) in Syntagma Square, Athens on May 1, 2020. Taking all the necessary measures of protection due to Covid-19 pandemic, the participants honored the International Workers’ Day in a symbolic and unique way.

By Talya Zax in United States Jewish daily Forward, May 1, 2020:

Coronavirus makes May Day a moment for radical action — and hope

On May 1, employees at several major companies, including Amazon, Whole Foods, Target and Instacart, will stage a one-day walkout. At the same time, tenants in cities across the United States will begin a rent strike, predicted to be one of the largest the country has ever seen.

The workers’ concerns: Lack of adequate paid leave and workplace protections in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, which has put them at substantially increased health risks.

And the renters’ concerns: As the pandemic has made unemployment in the United States skyrocket and the economy shrink, the precarious position occupied by renters appears newly untenable. “The Covid-19 crisis is making clear what many tenants have known for a long time: We are all just one life event — the loss of a job, a medical emergency — away from losing our homes,” Donnette Letford, one rent striker in New York, told The Intercept.

In some ways, these strikes are a contemporary phenomenon, prompted by the greatest national crisis in recent memory. But part of what makes them significant is their close link to a radical and remarkable history: May 1, 2020, is the 140th International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, a holiday in the workers’ rights movement celebrated on every continent except Antarctica.

“It’s a holiday that says that working people have a great deal in common, regardless of where they live or what field they work in,” said Jack Jacobs, professor of political science at the CUNY Graduate Center, “and yes, that does transcend religion, or national boundaries.” (Jacobs is a member of the Forward Association, one of the Forward’s governing bodies.) Today, as the entire world confronts the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis it has precipitated, the international and inter-industry solidarity central to May Day has, for many, made this year’s holiday a particularly mixed emotional moment. In the United States and across the world, workers are striking; throughout the world, they’re suffering. While no one will be taking to the streets to protest — hopefully — the understanding that workers across the globe are fighting the same fight is, in some ways, at a new high.

The holiday, an occasion for both joy and struggle, is by its nature bittersweet. It was established by the Second International Socialist Congress in 1889 as a commemoration of an 1886 American general strike, organized in Chicago in pursuit of an eight-hour workday. That massive demonstration ended in both success and tragedy. For many workers, the strike, which began on May 1, did result in that workday becoming the new norm. But during the strike, police in Chicago and state militia in Milwaukee fired on the crowds of protesters, resulting in several deaths. In 1890, in accordance with the call sent out by the 1889 congress, workers across the world went on strike on May 1 to once more demand an eight-hour workday. As Philip S. Foner chronicles in “May Day: A Short History of the International Workers’ Holiday” (1986), on May 1, 1890, strikes happened across America and Europe, as well as in Cuba, Peru and Chile.

In time, the holiday expanded across the world, and took on the traditions of each country that celebrates it. … In Kenya, it’s annually observed with pushes to increase the minimum wage; in France, it’s traditionally marked with the giving of lilies of the valley, thought to bring good luck, to loved ones and strangers alike.

In the United States, like the organized labor movement at large, the holiday has, since its founding, gone through phases of popularity and significance. (Disclosure: as the chair of the Forward’s unit of the NewsGuild of New York, I’m a participant in the labor movement.) “We’ve seen times of reform,” said Ann Toback, CEO of the Workers Circle, historically the home of the American Jewish workers’ movement. But there have also been times when the holiday’s significance has waned: “There were conservative and reactionary forces in American life that worked hard to undermine May Day over a long period of time,” Jacobs said, citing “the sponsoring and creation of Labor Day” in September as an “attempt to wrest American workers away from this international holiday.” In the context of May Day, Toback said, “We can look back on years of work and struggles and campaigns and victories and defeats.”

But for American and European Jews, the holiday has always retained particular significance. At the time of the first May Day, Jewish workers’ movements were still in their earliest stages. The General Jewish Labor Bund, the European Jewish workers’ movement, wasn’t founded until 1897; the Workers Circle, formerly Workmen’s Circle, was founded in 1900. As the two organizations developed, they came to view May Day as not only an annual mandate for meaningful collective action, but also an occasion of huge symbolic value.

Particularly for the Bundists, Jacobs said, participating in May Day demonstrations and parades “was a way of demonstrating their support and commitment to international workers’ struggles;” being part of the international labor movement was, for them, a point of great pride. The emotional intensity with which the Bundists approached the holiday was so powerful, he said, that “during the Holocaust, on May Day of 1944, the Bund in Poland — underground, illegal, harassed — organized May Day events.” Coming together was tremendously risky, but worth it: “It was important to the spirit of those who were able to participate, to be able to get together and demonstrate that they continued to share common ideals and would fight for those ideals.”

In America, especially as European Jewish socialists immigrated after the failed 1905 Russian Revolution, Jewish workers affiliated with the then-Workmen’s Circle participated in yearly demonstrations in major cities, as well as massive celebrations. 100 years ago, for May Day, 1920, an article in the Forward described plans for the holiday’s observance: “The big unions demand members stop work for the holiday and celebrate this important worker holiday,” the article said. “FREE POLITICAL DETAINEES! is the main demand at meetings.” But it wasn’t all activism: There were concerts, balls and speakers, events for the whole family. (The Forward was an active participant in all this: These were the years when the front page of every paper featured, in Yiddish, the slogans “Workers of the World, Unite!” and “The Liberation of the Worker is Dependent on the Worker Alone.”)

This year, both Jacobs and Toback see the need for May Day’s revitalization. “The trade union movement in the United States has been on the defensive for a very, very long time,” Jacobs said, “What we’re now seeing is that workers in lots of industries, which have been beyond the reach of the union movement, are doing what they can to demonstrate their collective interests. That’s a powerful thing.” But it will need ongoing action for that momentum to bring any results. “This is another moment of massive struggle for workers across the world, and certainly across the United States,” Toback said. May Day — which the Workers Circle will be marking with a virtual rally and, on May 3, an international, virtual concert of Yiddish workers songs — poses an opportunity to “find inspiration in past victories and past struggles,” she said. That reflection is needed, she said, because “critical fights” are ahead: “to make sure that essential workers’ lives are valued, that our country responds to the desperate situation of unemployment, and as our economy reopens, the workers who found themselves unemployed in this period are not further exploited.”

And what about this year’s May Day strikers?

“More power to them,” Jacobs said.

May Day 2020 during COVID-19

This 30 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

May Day 2020

This May Day finds us at an important historic crossroads. Amidst a global pandemic, this year the streets will be eerily silent as people forgo the marches and rallies that are the annual rituals of international workers’ day.

But while the streets may be calm, the class war rages on. Wildcat strikes are popping off among ‘essential workers’ who two months ago were seen as some of the lowest, most precarious participants of the gig economy. Prison uprisings are breaking out around the world at an unprecedented rate. And millions of tenants are withholding their rent in what could become the first global rent strike in history.

These are interesting times. Stay safe. Get organized. Fight hard. Happy May Day.

This 30 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Workers Are Fighting Back

Labor journalist Sarah Jaffe says despite unprecedented challenges, working people are finding new ways to organize for basic protections during the coronavirus pandemic.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 1 May 2020:

Editorial: Our united response to coronavirus shows the power of collectivism

THE usual May Day marches and rallies are not taking place this year for obvious reasons. Yet the solidarity we proclaim with workers around the world on International Workers’ Day is felt throughout our movement.

The reality of the Covid-19 crisis has made stark the difference in the value of the work done by some of the worst-paid and worst-treated workers in the country, without whose labour our streets would pile up with rubbish, our shops would lie empty, our deliveries would not arrive and our sick would not be treated or cared for – and the handful at the top paid astronomical sums for no conceivable reason.

It makes clearer than ever the need for a new deal for workers, a concerted push by our whole movement to call a halt to the march to a bargain-basement economy where labour is cheap and workers are expendable.

For years workers have been forced to work harder for longer, to put up with whatever terms and conditions are imposed by unaccountable management, trapped on zero-hours contracts or bogus self-employment arrangements designed to deny them access to rights our trade-union forebears won through relentless struggle – to sick pay, holiday pay, defined working hours, weekends.

Now, with government ministers forced to sing the praises of “key workers” keeping the country running, we must stand together to demand that they receive the pay and dignity they deserve – above all through winning the right to have pay and conditions agreed through collective bargaining where the representatives of workers – unions – are able to fight their corner against bosses.

For years government has outsourced real decision-making to “the market”, refusing to stand up for British manufacturing, outsourcing the delivery of public services or selling them off altogether, dismissing the possibility that it was in the power of the state to end homelessness or joblessness. The utter inability of the market to meet the requirements of the people during this crisis shows the need for an entirely different economic approach.

And for years government has tried to find scapegoats to take the blame for the stresses and insecurities of capitalism, seeking to divide workers against their fellows from other countries. As Covid-19 began to spread, there was an alarming spike in anti-Chinese racism, but the collective effort of the lockdown is an opportunity to point to the common interests of all workers and the contribution people from every corner of the globe are making to our survival and recovery.

Even if we are trapped inside our homes and unable to meet comrades and friends, the collective response to the pandemic has renewed a sense of community in many neighbourhoods, as we gather at our windows and doors at the same hour each week to applaud our health workers, volunteer to deliver essential supplies to those who can’t go out and make sacrifices, some small, some large, in a national effort to keep everyone safe.

In the process we can begin to glimpse what a different social order might look like.

Internationally, we are presented with the contrast between the immediate steps taken to help others by China and Cuba, rushing medical aid and doctors to the worst-hit countries, and the behaviour of the United States – blocking the shipment of medical equipment to Cuba, sending gunboats to the shores of Venezuela and slapping additional sanctions on Iran even as the latter struggles to cope with the most severe Covid-19 outbreak in the Middle East.

At home, the proliferation of mutual-aid groups and the heroic work being done by trade-union reps to keep people safe at work show the power of co-operation and collective action.

The changes we need will not come from politicians or Parliament. It is our movement’s job to win them, in the workplace and in the community.

By Ian Waddell in Britain, 1 May 2020:

The pandemic should open up a new struggle over working hours

IAN WADDELL of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions says the labour movement has to seize on the new understanding of what constitutes essential work

SINCE the Covid-19 crisis erupted workers have been at the forefront of our society’s response, from the heroic efforts of front-line health workers to the essential workers keeping supermarkets stocked with shelves.

Cleaners became critical workers as companies, schools and universities embarked on deep-clean programmes to disinfect their premises.

Essential jobs included many low paid roles: postal workers and distribution drivers; bus and coach drivers; bank customer service advisers; teachers, care home workers, social workers and support staff; farmworkers, food production workers; and sewerage workers to name just a few of the jobs vital to maintaining our way of life during lockdown.

This 1 May 2020 video from New Delhi in India says about itself:

LeftWord Books Managing Editor Sudhanva Desphande talks about May Day @ May Day [bookstore]

Every year on the 1st of May we have a grand celebration of workers rights at our bookstore. We salute workers who struggled for our rights for over a century.

This year we are not able to hold the festival. But we will be celebrating it online with Roger Waters, Tania Saleh, Aisi Taisi Democracy, M D Pallavi, Amir Aziz, Martin Espada, Jana Natya Manch, Aishe Ghosh and more…

Join us on May Day at to celebrate the festival of workers.

This 30 April 2020 music video from Belgium shows people singing the anti-fascist song Bella Ciao from their homes for May Day.

This video from Cornwall in Britain says about itself:

Happy May Day 2020 – Hal an Tow (with improved audio)

We’ve managed to locate a better sound recording of this performance, and what better day to share it!

Filmed and recorded by Harry Campbell.

Recorded in St John’s Church, Keswick, Saturday 22 June 2013.

French government violence, lies against May Day demonstrators

This 2 May 2019 video says about itself:

France’s Yellow Vest Protestors Took To The Streets For May Day

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets for May Day, in solidarity with millions around the world who marched for workers’ rights.

While the French protest every year, these protests were remarkably violent as police fired tear gas at crowds … detaining more than 250 protestors by the end of the day.

This was the first May Day rally for members of France’s “Yellow Vest” movement, which began protesting 24 weeks ago against what they see as President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-business policies favoring the elite. The group has proven to be one of the biggest challenges to Macron’s presidency and has already forced the President to make concessions related to taxation, pension reform and the closures of schools and hospitals.

By turning up today, the Yellow Vests aligned themselves with a centuries-old movement that’s traditionally seen as pro-union and pro-left.

“Today is May Day. It has nothing to do with a Yellow Vest action. It’s a workers’ celebration”, Jérôme Rodrigues, an unofficial leader of the Yellow Vests told VICE News. “Within the Yellow Vest march, you have workers who have gathered here to reinforce their demands, and show that they are workers too.”

Rodrigues joined the Yellow Vests in its earlier stages, and in a January rally lost an eye after being hit with what he believes to be a police-fired projectile. Videos capturing the moment propelled him to the forefront of the movement.

“The problem is that we have a president in France right now who not only doesn’t listen to us, but also mutilates us,” Rodrigues told VICE News. “So why wage a revolution? Because the climate of violence was brought on by the government.”

Turning out today was important for Rodrigues … He hopes that the Yellow Vests’ presence at the May Day pro-labour rally will help bolster support for their cause in the future. “All this diversity— That’s how we win. OK?” Rodrigues told VICE News. “Today, we see that we ignored that [in the past], and that we have recovered something fundamental in France. It’s called fraternity.”

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Investigations into ‘violence’ by French policemen against International Workers Day protest

The French authorities are investigating three incidents where police allegedly used excessive force against demonstrators on International Workers Day in Paris. Since last Wednesday’s demonstrations, videos of social media incidents have been circulating.

In one of the videos, a policeman puts a police baton into the pants of a demonstrator.

In a second video a policeman hits a demonstrator in the face

That is this 1 May 2019 video.

and on other images a cop throws a rock. …

Hundreds of arrests

On Wednesday, May Day in Paris, thousands of people took to the streets in protest against President Macron’s policies. Among the demonstrators were both yellow vests and anarchist ‘black bloc’ demonstrators. …

According to [right-wing daily] Le Figaro there were many complaints about police violence.

Fake news‘ about demonstrators

[Macron‘s Interior] Minister Castaner himself was under fire in recent days because he said that black bloc protesters were behind an attack on a hospital in Paris. However, hospital staff told French media that they had never felt threatened and that it seemed as if the demonstrators were fleeing something [police violence].

After being accused of peddling fake news, Castaner admitted that he had used the wrong words.

It took less than 24 hours for the Macron government’s fabricated story about “yellow vest” protesters attacking the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital on May Day in Paris to collapse like a house of cards. It has been exposed as yet another lie to cast the protests against social inequality as criminal riots and promote Macron’s build-up of a French police state against the working class: here.

Grenfell survivor, Venezuela at London May Day

This video from England is called CELEBRATIONS: May Day demonstration at Trafalgar square in London, 2019.

From daily News Line in London, Britain today:

FOLLOWING the May Day march last Wednesday, 1st May, the Workers Revolutionary Party and the Young Socialists held a lively meeting in Covent Garden.

Chairman Jonty Leff, Editor of the News Line, drew attention to the thousands of workers marching for socialist revolution on this day, throughout the world. Joshua Ogunleye, National Secretary of the Young Socialists, said that workers and young people were in the eye of the storm.

‘Young workers are suffering zero-hours contracts, with no holiday and sick pay and lack of job security, making it difficult to pay the rent. Youth centres have been shut down. The cost of higher education is pricing young people out.

‘Lecturers are also are on zero-hours contracts. This week, there have been strikes by college lecturers, which have been supported by students.’ He said young people were defiant. We see this in Palestine where youth rose up in the Marches to Return, and in France where the young people are shot at by the state forces and injured in struggles approaching civil war.

‘Our generation has to change the course of history. We’re not all in it together. As we saw at Davos, the rich are exponentially richer and the poor getting poorer. This class struggle is being fought out across the world. It’s not enough to get a Labour government. We need to bring down this government and get a socialist Britain.

‘We need more jobs, more youth clubs. Scrap tuition fees. Nationalise the industries and defend the NHS. …’

Jacqui Haynes spoke about the struggle of the Grenfell survivors. She said: ‘We need justice. Those responsible should be jailed. I come from no political party. I was there when people were dying. There was nothing we could do at the time. Politics, Brexit or not, they are doing nothing about Grenfell. We need to mobilise so we are not the victims. We have been fighting for justice, both legal and social. Everything is a battle and struggle. The authorities just work for damage limitation.

‘We have to fight for the money that has been given to be used for us, and to shame them. We were promised alternative housing within one month and to get back secure tenancies. We are only being offered five-year tenancies. Our trauma will not be cured while we are still dealing with the reality that the government is doing nothing for us, and still oppress us and don’t care. We have to make a system that governs people well.

‘Many youth have been expelled from school. Nothing has been done for our youth. There are no extra services for the vulnerable. They are just cared for by neighbours. The message from the top down is disregard and disrespect for people like us. We will do this. We need this and will use the money that has been donated. We went to every public meeting and take officials to task. We demand to get procurement of services and induction of new people. We want transparency and valid participation.

‘They tried to divide residents from the bereaved but we stuck together as a community. United we are the power. They were going to sell it off. They are currently looking at refurbishment. We are dead people walking. The soil is toxic. We had to get our own independent person. We ingrain ourselves into their system and keep banging on the door. We set up our own lettings policy. We fought for our own in-house services to do repairs.

”We have become political experts, and housing experts, and mental health experts. We learnt ourselves. Be involved in any consultations, meetings and decisions. We have to take this country by storm because it’s ours. We need to change this government. I’m here because I want justice for Grenfell and beyond.’

Carolina Graterol, a journalist from Venezuela, spoke about the situation there.

She said: ‘… The Guaido coup failed. Trump wants a war and is hungry to invade and steal the oil. Chavez gave opportunities for workers and people with brown skin to do things like study, which used to be just for rich people. He honoured justice, solidarity and fraternity and helped people from the barios and favelas. Maduro has deepened ties with these people.

‘We in the Americas are subject to racism and fascism. In 2017, fascist groups burned Chavistas alive. Venezuela has 200 years of oil supplies and much gold. It is on a border with Colombia and the military and civilians defend the border. The oil revenue has been used for social programmes. 70% of GDP went on this. 2.6 million houses have been built in the last few years. We don’t see homelessness. Everyone has a house.

‘Four million children live in poverty in the UK. One million elderly are cold and hungry in winter in one of the richest countries in the world. I live in Muswell Hill and people come from Southgate to use the food banks. Seven pounds an hour is not enough. Companies make money from staff getting stressed from working long hours.

”Young peoples’ lives are being destroyed. Fascism spreads hatred and fear. Money is more important for them. The Extinction Rebellion came to the fore. We should support them. We must take the example from Grenfell and learn how to govern ourselves. They have money. If we exercise power they will run. We definitely can do it.’

Dr Bob Gill, GP, said: ‘They are trying to privatise the NHS and convert it to a profit-driven private health system. For 30 years they have been doing this by stealth, and are nearly there. They use consecutive legislation. They are also privatising education and housing. They are replacing doctors and nurses with bloated top management.

‘This market bureaucratic corporate structure is used to impose top-down change. Doctors and nurses have no power. They are told there are not enough beds, and they must discharge patients too soon. It started with “Britain’s Biggest Enterprise” written by John Redwood and Oliver Letwin. These called for public-private enterprises, private finance initiatives and outsourcing. The public pays the bill and the private company takes the profit. The taxpayer is fleeced and the standard of care goes down.

‘They brought in the internal market in 1998 and Foundation Trusts five years later. These were stand-alone businesses with boards of directors and requirements to balance the books. £11bn pounds worth of PFI hospitals were built, requiring £88bn to pay back the debt with interest and the NHS does not own the building at the end.

Labour’s Tony Blair ran with this idea from John Major’s [Conservative] government. That PFI debt was used to close down NHS hospitals which did not have PFI debts.

‘They have to silence the workforce. They create an environment where staff are afraid to speak up. The head of NHS England is Simon Stevens who was the president of Global Health, the US’s biggest health insurer. He is taking us to the US system: Medicare for the poor and elderly, and top-up insurance for the rest. They are shrinking the universal service, and rationing operations and letting waiting lists get longer.

‘Now general practice is being attacked via a new GP contract, which coerces GP practices to sign up to a new Network Contract. This ties GPs to becoming part of Primary Care Networks attached to new “integrated care providers” leading to private sector monopolies of clinical care, making profit out of the NHS. We have to restore the NHS as a public provided service.’

Monday, May 6, 2019. Grenfell Tower inquiry ‘failing to deliver,’ survivors say: here.

Grenfell families accuse corporations of ‘amnesia’: here.

Media lies in service of war for regime change in Venezuela: here.

Germany’s grand coalition government, led by the Social Democratic Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who is currently touring Latin America, is playing a central role in the imperialist offensive against Venezuela. In a joint press release with the far-right Brazilian government, Germany’s Foreign Ministry gave its unconditional backing on Tuesday to the criminal attempted coup against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and declared its solidarity with the US puppet, Juan Guaido: here.

May Day 2019 all over the world

This April 27 2019 is called Happy International Workers’ Solidarity Day, May 01, 2019.

This video from the USA says about itself:

May Day Socialist March in LA, 2019

“No borders! No Nations! End deportations!” A coalition of unions, socialist, communist, progressive and anarchist groups came together this afternoon in Los Angeles to celebrate May Day and protest Donald Trump. Filmed by Ford Fischer

This 1 May 2019 video is called Protesters arrested during banned May Day protest in Turkey.

As over 310,000 people marched in France for May Day, the international holiday of the working class, riot police launched a brutal and bloody crackdown in Paris. Trade unions as well as “yellow vest” protesters demanding the ouster of President Emmanuel Macron, the “president of the rich,” organized rallies in cities across the country: here.

This 1 May 2019 video is about workers in Jakarta, Indonesia gathering for May Day.

A report on the London, England May Day demonstration is here.

This video is about the Dutch trade unions’ May Day rally.

May Day 2019 all over the world

This 13 April 2019 video says about itself:

Labour Day 2019 | International Workers’ Day | History & Facts

Labour day is also known as International Workers’ Day or May Day is an annual holiday to celebrate the achievements of workers, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. It takes place every year on May 1.

US teachers in the Carolinas to hold mass protests on May Day: here.

From the Socialist Equality Party in Sri Lanka:

Socialist Equality Party in Sri Lanka to hold May Day meeting in Colombo

The new wave of international class struggle and the fight for socialism

26 April 2019

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) in Sri Lanka will hold a public meeting at New Town Hall in Colombo on May 1 at 3 p.m. to mark the international workers’ day.

The SEP meeting is being organised in defiance of suggestions that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government will attempt to use last Sunday’s terrorist bombings as a pretext for banning May Day events. If the government bans May Day, the SEP and the IYSSE will fight to mobilise workers to defend their right to celebrate this long-held tradition of the working class.

The central theme of the SEP/IYSSE event will be the rising wave of international class struggles and the fight for socialism. We urge workers, youth and intellectuals to attend the Colombo May Day rally and also register and participate in the International Committee of the Fourth International’s Online May Day Rally on May 4.

Exploiting the terrorist attacks, the government has imposed draconian emergency regulations, censored social media and given the military and police sweeping powers to arrest and detain people. The purpose of these anti-democratic measures is not to stop terrorist attacks but to crack down on the growing struggles of the working class and oppressed masses against the government’s austerity measures.

The global financial crisis of 2008 was a systemic breakdown of capitalist profit system. In every country, the ruling elites responded by unleashing brutal austerity measures aimed at placing the burden of the crisis onto working people.

Workers are rising up around the world in an ever-widening wave of strikes and protests in an attempt to defeat the unrelenting attacks on their living standards and basic social and democratic rights. The past six months has seen strikes by more than 70,000 workers in Matamoros, Mexico, thousands of teachers in the United States, and more recently 300,000 teachers in Poland, as well as millions of workers in India, over 100,000 plantation workers in Sri Lanka and the “yellow vest” protests in France.

The ruling class has responded to the international upsurge with repression and rapid moves towards dictatorial forms of rule. This agenda is being advanced in Sri Lanka with the bogus pretexts of “fighting terrorism” and conducting a “war on drugs”.

The imperialist powers, led by the US, are spending billions on the military while attacking free speech and censoring socialist, left-wing and anti-war publications, in preparation to drag mankind into a catastrophic third world war. This is what lies behind the persecution and illegal imprisonment of WikiLeaks publisher and journalist Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who courageously exposed US war crimes.

The urgent task confronting the working class, whether in the advanced or less developed capitalist countries, is the development of a unified world movement to overthrow capitalism and establish workers’ government to implement socialism and put an end to imperialist war, social inequality and dictatorship.

We call upon workers, young people and WSWS readers to attend the Colombo May Day meeting that will discuss this revolutionary perspective.

Date and time: Wednesday, May 1, 3 p.m.

Venue: New Town Hall, Green Path, Colombo

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) in Sri Lanka held a successful May Day meeting at the New Town Hall in Colombo on the afternoon of May 1. The meeting’s theme was “The rising wave of international class struggle and the fight for socialism.” Some 200 workers, students, youth, professionals and housewives, including SEP members and supporters from areas throughout the island, including war-ravaged Jaffna peninsula, attended the meeting, despite the government’s efforts to exploit the Easter terror attacks by banning any May Day celebrations: here.

Macron’s employees’ violence scandal continues

This 19 July 2018 South Korean TV video says about itself:

French President Emmanuel Macron is in hot water after one of his aides, dressed as a police officer, was filmed beating a student demonstrator in Paris.

Alexandre Benalla, assistant to the president’s chief of staff, is now under investigation by French prosecutors and could face a slew of charges, including violence by a public official and illegal use of police insignia.

The video was taken during the May Day protests and revealed by the French newspaper Le Monde on Wednesday. In the clip, Benalla can be seen dragging a woman down the street, grabbing her by the neck. He then goes back and drags a man along the floor before hitting him.

By Francis Dubois in France:

Benalla affair destabilises Macron government in France

31 July 2018

For the first time since becoming president a year ago, Emmanuel Macron is confronting a media and parliamentary campaign, triggered by the “Benalla affair”, which is destabilising both him and his ruling party, The Republic on the March (LRM). Last week, the pressure on Macron, who has refused to speak publicly on the affair, reached a new peak.

The affair began on July 19, when Le Monde identified a close collaborator [Deputy Chief of Staff] of the president, Alexandre Benalla, captured on video violently beating demonstrators on May Day in Paris. Violations of normal police procedure have since been tied directly to Macron’s personal security staff and to high-level officials of the Parisian police, notably those tasked with “managing” political demonstrations.

At present, Macron faces a counteroffensive from sections of the police apparatus that have publicly reproached him for improper interference in their operations. The prefect of Paris, speaking before a parliamentary commission established on Friday, denounced the “unacceptable, condemnable outgrowth of unhealthy cronyism.”

Benalla, Fabien Crase—the head of security for LRM—and three top police officials connected to them have been placed under investigation. Benalla was sacked by the Elysée presidential palace on charges of “public violence” the day after Le Monde‘s revelations. Crase was sacked for the same charge.

Macron on Tuesday refused to respond publicly after deputies and leaders of political parties requested that he testify before a parliamentary commission of inquiry. Some raised the possibility of impeaching the president, which has never taken place before in the history of the French Republic.

… The Assembly and the Senate have sought to exploit the scandal to block Macron’s anti-democratic constitutional reform aimed at expanding presidential powers. …

The depositions of Interior Minister Gérard Collomb, the prefect of police and the director of public security were damaging to the presidency. The first two refused to take any responsibility and pointed the finger at Macron, and the third contradicted the declarations from the Elysée that the police had authorised Benalla to attend the demonstration.

One of the most persistent charges against Macron is that the Elysée is building a parallel police force—essentially an illegal militia—independent of the police apparatus that is normally responsible for the president’s security. Another is that, despite knowing about the events in question starting on May 2, neither the interior ministry nor the presidency alerted the public prosecutor, though they are required to do so by law.

Compromising revelations continue to emerge around Benalla. After having been “sanctioned” on May 2, according to the Elysée, he continued his functions as the head of presidential security and was afterward reportedly provided with exorbitant privileges for his role as a “project leader”, including a monthly salary approaching 10,000 euros. …

The more the Benalla affair exposes the illegal violence of the state apparatus targeting the population, the more aggressively the ruling elite rallies around the police forces.

The violence in Paris on May Day began when the police attacked a contingent of 1,200 masked members of the Black Bloc—which is known to be heavily infiltrated by police agents—who had inserted themselves into the demonstration. Large sections of the media and the political establishment denounced the protesters as “hooligans.” …

Macron let it be known that he could order the dissolution of the political organizations that were involved. On Twitter, he declared: “I condemn with absolute firmness the violence which took place and which diverted the protests of May 1. Everything will be done to ensure that the instigators are identified and held to account for their actions.”

French Macron’s anti-May Day demonstrators violence scandal gets worse

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

New complaints about violence by Macron’s bodyguard Benalla

The bodyguard

French President Macron´s Deputy Chief of Staff, not just any bodyguard

of French President Macron, Alexandre Benalla, played at being a policeman on 1 May in Paris before what became known earlier. La République en Marche

Macron’s political party

employee Vincent Crase was also guilty of that, writes the French newspaper Libération.

A video showing how Benalla was beating a demonstrator lying on the ground to a pulp on May Day led to a public scandal. Now it turns out that about three hours before this happened, there was already a different confrontation with demonstrators, writes the newspaper.

Two protesters, a young man and woman, say they were stopped earlier in the Paris Jardin des Plantes by Benalla and Crase, who wore police bracelets.

While not being policemen.

This is said to have happened after Benalla and Crase found out that the woman was filming.

Intentional violence

The protesters have filed complaints for, inter alia, violation of freedom, “intentional violence by persons with public authority” and unlawful use of “signs reserved for the public authority”. The complaints also concern Philippe Mizerski, who was responsible for the two.

World War I, May 1918

This video about Scotland says about itself:

Striking workers in Glasgow circa 1918. Archive film 99413

World War One billboard poster of Kitchener pointing – “Your Country Needs YOU”. Soldiers marching past the generals during an inspection. Newly-signed up soldiers board trains heading for the frontline, waved off by their wives and children. Women workers in good spirits heading for the factory. Inside the factory where women are doing carpentry. Women at work on the railways and munitions plants. Lloyd George inspects the munitions works and talks to the women there. Lloyd George and Arthur Henderson. Demonstrations or strikes near end of World War One on the homefront in Glasgow, Scotland. Bagpipers lead the victorious soldiers through streets.

By John Ellison in Britain:

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Looking back a century to May 1918

ON MAY 1 1918 Glasgow experienced a massive May Day demonstration. For those taking part, it demonstrated that “patriotic” support for the war (with hundreds of thousands of casualties suffered since the German advance on the Western front had begun on March 21), ceased to be an argument on the table.

Some 90,000 people came on to the streets, bound for Glasgow Green. Speakers from 20 platforms were then heard. The British Socialist Party’s The Call soon afterwards commented: “It was quite plain to all that that great assembly of workers were out for Peace and the overthrow of Capitalism.” There were many shouts for the release of leading socialist agitator John Maclean, then in Duke Street prison, awaiting trial on May 9.

The first of May was also the day of the appeals heard in the London Inner Sessions at Clerkenwell by philosopher Bertrand Russell and peace campaigner and socialist Joan Beauchamp against their February sentences for encouraging “disaffection” in the Tribunal, the organ of the No Conscription Fellowship (NCF).

Russell’s sentence of six months in the “second division” was now upgraded to the privileged regime of the first, while Joan Beauchamp, previously given a fine or three months in prison, now received one month’s jail, having refused to pay the fine. Russell’s sentence was adjusted in the light of his being “a man of great distinction”, unlike, the judicial thinking may have run, the usual riff-raff of anti-conscriptionists.

London’s May Day meeting, unlike Glasgow’s, was to be on Sunday May 5, but was abruptly prohibited by the Home Office.

A year earlier, more than 100,000 people had turned out for the celebration, and another big gathering was expected. But late on May 3, police served notice on the Karl Marx Centenary Committee (comprising the British Socialist Party (BSP), Independent Labour Party and trade union branches etc.) that the meeting and its associated processions were outlawed by the Home Secretary. It had been planned that seven marches would lead into Finsbury Park from different directions, and that fifty speakers would address the crowd from eight platforms.

The ban was promoted by the Daily Express, owned by the present Minister of Information, Lord Beaverbrook. On May 3 it proclaimed: “The peacetime toleration that permitted every addle-pated orator to let off steam is no longer possible. This proposed pacifist orgy is a direct incitement to a breach of the peace. They include however, middle-class pacifists … and various representatives of a mysterious body that calls itself the Karl Marx Centenary Committee.”

There was no mystery about the committee, or about the courage of the people (perhaps a thousand) who braved the ban to gather in Finsbury Park on May 5 to listen to speakers before being dispersed violently by mounted police.

Three miles away, at Highgate Cemetery, another show of defiance took place. A good number of people wishing to take part in a commemorative event at the grave of Karl Marx a century after his birth were prevented from doing so. Eventually the police allowed a deputation to go in to place wreaths on the grave. One wreath was the offering of “ambassador” Maxim Litvinov, who had been refused, like his government, recognition. It carried the inscription “From Russia, the first Socialist Republic, in memory of Karl Marx, who showed the workers of the world the path to self-emancipation.” Litvinov had by now moved with his family from West Hampstead to new rooms at 11 Bigwood Road, Hampstead Garden Suburb, and his BSP-published pamphlet The Bolshevik Revolution: Its Rise and Meaning was available for 1 shilling.

On May 8 two leading members of the NCF were up before the Bow Street beak. These were Lydia Smith, undisclosed editor of the Tribunal, and Violet Tillard (“Tilly”), general secretary. They had refused to give police the address of the printer of the internally circulated NCF News, after the breaking-up and confiscation of the Tribunal printer’s equipment in April. Tilly was singled out, fined heavily, and appealed.

John Maclean’s trial took place on May 9 before judge and jury in Edinburgh. The previous night 30 Scottish socialists had tramped from Glasgow to the trial venue. The charges against him were of sedition, of prejudicing recruiting, and of attempting to cause disaffection, and were based on his recent speeches.

The Times on May 10 solemnly caricatured the prosecution case. “The prisoner advocated ‘downing’ tools, and said that socialists should break all laws. He advised the workers to take control of Glasgow City Chambers, the Post Office, and the banks, and urged that the House of Commons should be superseded by a Soviet, saying that he did not care whether they met in the usual place or at Buckingham Palace.”

If accurate, that would have been sufficiently outlandish to make prosecution ludicrous. Refusing to plead guilty or not guilty, Maclean gave a lengthy speech which newspapers did not care to report. It included, prophetically:

“If one side or the other wins [World War I], then the revenge will come … In view of the fact that the great powers are not prepared to stop the war until the one side or the other is broken down, it is our business as members of the working class to see that this war ceases today, not only to save the lives of the young men of the present, but also to stave off the next great war … I am out for an absolute reconstruction of society, on a co-operative basis, throughout all the world; when we stop the need for armies and navies, we stop the need for war.”

The middle-class jury found him guilty as charged without needing to retire, and the judge found sentencing an easy chore. He was given five years’ penal servitude.

“He is sentenced to this fearful punishment simply for talking”, commented Labour’s George Lansbury-edited Herald.

Within a fortnight the Clyde District Defence Committee was formed to work for Maclean’s release, while Maclean went on hunger strike.

On May 11 the Herald’s front page contained only the words “TERMS OF THE SECRET TREATIES (Special Number)” and inside seven pages were devoted to these deals for distribution of territorial extensions among Allied countries. The editor of the booklet on the treaties which had appeared the previous month, F Seymour Cocks, declared that the Allied governments had declined to speak out on the subject “because their mouths are stopped by the secret agreements … because their voices are choked by the ink and parchment of the shameful treaties they have signed.”

The previous day in Ireland, arrests of Sinn Fein leaders had taken place — of Eamonn de Valera, Arthur Griffith, Constance Markievicz and others, more than a hundred in all. According to Lord French, military viceroy for Ireland, they had been in treasonable communication with the enemy. As to this, the Daily Mail was confident, “there could be no doubt.” In fact those arrested were Irish patriots, interned for their independence activity and for their hostility to the conscription of Irishmen which the government had not yet dared to enforce.

On May 19 the annual conference of the Workers’ Suffrage Federation, which now became the Workers’ Socialist Federation, opened. Besides re-electing Sylvia Pankhurst as secretary, the conference declared its opposition to all war, demanded self-determination for all nations, and the release of John Maclean.

One leading conscription-refuser, at that moment in Liverpool’s jail, was Fenner Brockway, former Labour Leader editor. His decision to break the prison rule of silence was reported in the Herald on May 25. His example was swiftly copied by other COs, and before long he was transferred to Lincoln Prison.

On May 27 came another push of German forces on the Western Front, while large numbers of US troops were arriving to strengthen the Allied side.

Meanwhile, British military intervention in Russia was quietly developing. On May 17 the War Cabinet was informed that a military mission was setting off for Murmansk and Archangel, with a view to recruiting Czech forces for anti-Bolshevik designs in north Russia.

So it was that Britain’s war to keep and extend its empire was now also a war against socialism.

August 100 years ago: attacks on the Bolshevik revolution and transport workers’ strikes: here.

September 1918: Confidence grows among war resisters. JOHN ELLISON charts the events at home and abroad that affected the British conduct of WWI.

October 2018: 100 years ago: imperialist carve-ups and anti-war agitation. JOHN ELLISON looks back a century to how socialist writers were being persecuted for opposing war and how the seeds were being sown for WWII.