- Neat-o photos and videos from rallies around the whirled : Solidarité Ouvrière (Workers’ Solidarity).
In Australia, a brainworker reckons Stolen wages: labour’s forgotten outrage (Ros Kidd, ABC), noting that thousands of Aboriginal workers remain uncompensated for their labour (a critical factor in the development of rural industry). “When will the labour movement march with their fellow workers — and keep marching — until the most basic right of wage security is won for those whose labour was so cruelly exploited, across generations, to build our nation?”
In Bolivia, President Evo Morales has taken the opportunity of May Day to announce (again) the state’s intention to nationalise three energy companies: Chaco (owned by British Petroleum); Transredes (owned by Ashmore Energy), and the CLHB company. He also announced the nationalisation of the national telephone company run by multinational Euro Telecom International (ENTEL), 50-percent owned by Telecom Italia SPA. (See also: ¡Cochabamba! Water War in Bolivia, Oscar Olivera and Tom Lewis; Foreword by Vandana Shiva, South End Press, 2004.)
In Colombia, Killings of trade unionists on the rise in Colombia, according to Amnesty International. “We do not want marches crying for the dead, nor 1 May protests” wrote a paramilitary death squad in a letter sent to trade unionists in the department of Santander on April 22. Of course, one simple solution would be to stop killing trade unionists. Unfortunately, that would cramp the stylee of the Coca-Cola corporation; a development which would, in turn, possibly cramp the stylee of some of Australia’s best up and coming artists!, including The Cops (naturally), “rambunctious party favourites” The Cat Empire and “the laid-back singer, songwriter & surfer Jack Johnson”.
In Cuba, “Cuba labor leader calls for more efficiency, harder work” (Will Weissert): “HAVANA (AP) — The head of communist Cuba’s powerful labor union called for more efficiency and harder work in the face of rising world fuel and food prices as hundreds of thousands of workers joined the traditional May Day march on Thursday.”
In the Czech Republic, about 100 or so anarchists laid wreaths and made paper flowers in memory of the executed trade unionists from Chicago. 500 neo-Nazis belonging to the Workers’ Party and other fascist twats also gathered in Prague. In response, “The Young Social Democrats met at the same place, outside the church on Jiri z Podebrady square in Prague 3, this morning at the event dubbed “More toys for deprived nationalists.” They said they wanted to show right-wing extremists that it would be better “to play with something less ugly than baseball bats.” They left piles of toys on the square that extremists removed before their rally” (Some 500 neo-Nazis rally in Prague on May Day, ČTK, May 2, 2008). Anarchists in Poland also marched (as well as briefly encountered some fascist losers).
In Finland, about 500 partying workers celebrated EuroMayDay; police arrested 27, ‘”…the majority of the detainees were not guilty of any crime but rather the police took them in as a preventative measure,” Inspector Jortikka explained’.
In the United States, while May Day Returns to its Roots, according to Geov Parrish (Eat the State!), in Seattle ‘Arbitrator steps in to avoid West Coast port slowdown’, Alex Veiga (AP Business Writer), Seattle Times:
An arbitrator has ordered the union that represents dockworkers at West Coast ports to tell members they must report to work on Thursday and not take the day off to protest U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A wide enough walkout could cause a slowdown at the West Coast ports – the nation’s major gateway for cargo from the Far East.
Arbitrator John Kagel issued his decision Wednesday after holding a hearing by phone with the employers’ group, the Pacific Maritime Association, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, according to a document outlining the ruling.
The union previously asked employers to clear the way for members to skip out on the day shift to protest the war, but employers refused the request and were backed by the arbitrator last week.
Despite that decision, word continued to spread on the Internet of a May 1 walkout by longshore workers and details of protests, including a march in San Francisco. Thursday is May Day, when workers traditionally celebrate the labor movement…
(And Happy May Day!, from the San Francisco Bay Guardian too.)
Still, while striking workers on the West Coast may irk order-givers in the US, in Iraq port workers belonging to the General Union of Port Workers of Iraq have issued a statement in solidarity, declaring that “The courageous decision you made to carry out a strike on May Day to protest against the war and occupation of Iraq advances our struggle against occupation to bring a better future for us and for the rest of the world as well.”
AP reports that the strike was successful, as ‘Terminal operators say West Coast cargo traffic halted’: “LOS ANGELES: Terminal operators say West Coast cargo traffic has come to a halt as port workers stage daylong anti-war protests. Pacific Maritime Association spokesman Steve Getzug says thousands of dockworkers did not show up to work Thursday morning, leaving ships and truck drivers idle at ports from Long Beach to Seattle. The West Coast ports are the nation’s principal gateway for cargo container traffic from the Far East. A spokesman for the National Retail Federation says shippers and exporters planned for the slowdown that coincides with May Day and expected no significant long-term disruptions.”
The Maritime Union of New Zealand also sent congratulations to fellow workers in the US. In Olympia, a couple bank windows got broke at a rally. Police used pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse those assembled.
(In Kashmir, India, an example of super-exploitation of the kind US management can only dream of (and plan for).)
In Israel Report shows workers lost NIS 8,000 each to employers’ benefit (Ruth Sinai, Haaretz):
With every passing year May Day – celebrated as the International Workers’ Day – becomes more of a day for general social protest. Friday’s Labor Day march in Tel Aviv, for example, includes a long list of organization not associated directly with workers’ right: students’ and women’s groups, neighborhood activists and a range of political organization from the Young Communist League to Meretz Youth. Among the slogans under whose banners the participants will be marching, for example, are “Maintain the standard of living in light of the price hikes” and “The municipality is for everyone, not just the real estate sharks.”
“It’s impossible to maintain the division between the struggle for workers’ rights and the overall economic policy,” Alon-Lee Green, the hero of the strike by employees of the Coffee Bean chain in Tel Aviv, which ended in March with an unprecedented revenue-sharing deal for the workers. “It doesn’t matter whether your salary is cut or prices rise. Either way you’re left with nothing,” Green said.
Residents of South Tel Aviv’s Florentine who have banded together to fight a plan to turn the area into a luxury residential neighborhood also joined in. The protest march will begin from there, proceeding to the concentration of bank offices and personnel agencies at the intersection of Allenby St. and Rothschild Blvd. “The first of May is becoming more and more relevant for more and more people who want to feel they are not alone in the war of survival” says the chairman of the Student Union of the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Daniel Bronstein. “Not only terms of employment are important to Israeli workers, but also for their children to have access to high-quality education systems as well as good medical and welfare systems,” he says.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, there are some May Day reflections in Lebanon: Politics in labor’s name, NOWLebanon: “It’s Eid el-Ommal, May Day, Labor Day or International Workers’ Day, as you will. By any name, it is the day on which workers around the world celebrate the achievements of the international labor movement. For Lebanese this year, however, the day has special significance, as it comes just six days ahead of a general strike called for by the Lebanese General Federation of Labor Unions (GFLU). Sadly, the bear-baiting event is more about March 14 vs. March 8 than it is about workers’ rights. The Lebanese have a proud labor legacy, but this event – just like the January riots and the Mar Mikhail shooting – is going to compromise it once again…”
In the Basque region, computer says ‘3 bombs explode in Spanish Basque region’ (Daniel Woolls, AP): “MADRID, Spain (AP) — Three bombs exploded in Spain’s Basque region on Thursday, officials said. No one was injured in the blasts, which police said were carried out by the separatist group ETA. All three blasts, which occurred on the traditional workers holiday of May Day, targeted labor-related government buildings…”
In a story that’s sure to bring crocodile tears to the eye of former Rhodes Scholar, Companion of the Order of Australia, Australian Prime Minister and working class man Robert James Lee (Bob) Hawke: “Sitting outside her hut under a spiderweb shade of bamboo and thatch, 40-year-old Ba Yoong remembers the warm May day, six years ago, when SPDC soldiers came to her village. During heavy fighting between government and rebel troops, her farmer husband, Loong Mayta, was seized by a drunken officer who demanded money. As Ba Yoong ran to him, holding her six-month-old baby, the officer shot him in the chest. As Loong Mayta lay on the ground begging the officer to spare him, he shot him in the throat, killing him instantly. Tears spill over Ba Yoong’s deeply lined face as she tells her story. “I cannot forget,” she says. “We cannot go back, but there is no future for us here.” Burma‘s top general, Than Shwe, meanwhile, has used May Day to urge workers to support the military dictatorship’s latest legal manouevring: “Burma’s top general has urged people to vote in favour of a new constitution in a referendum to be held next week. In a May Day message, Than Shwe said workers should back the charter because workers’ representatives had played a part in drafting it” (perhaps by providing their blood to be used as ink?).
There’s a different kinda May Day in Egypt, apparently: ‘A different May Day: Workers in the industrial town of Mahala Al-Kubra have cause to celebrate, writes Faiza Rady’, Al-Ahram Weekly: “Over the past two years the struggles of Egyptian workers have changed the country’s political map. For the first time in more than five decades the government will really have to address workers’ demands on May Day rather than pay the customary lip service to Egypt’s ‘honourable workforce'”, says Mohamed Al-Attar, a strike leader and veteran worker at the Misr Spinning and Weaving Company in the northern industrial city of Mahala Al-Kubra where nearly a quarter of all public sector textile and clothing workers are employed…” And it appears that, as a result of labour unrest — especially in the form of wildcat strikes in th country’s north to protest privatization, layoffs and high food prices — ‘Egypt to raise wages after unrest’; if only for public service workers.
In Germany, thousands of police prevented perhaps as many as 10,000 antifa from meeting and greeting 700 participants in a neo-Nazi march in Hamburg and at a similar event in Nuremberg. “In Hamburg and Nuremberg, the NPD marched between cordons of riot police ordered to enforce the NPD’s right of free assembly. Anti-NPD protesters far outnumbered boot-wearing rightists in both cities.” According to Deutsche-Welle, “Bavaria state’s premier, Guenther Beckstein, who comes from the city, told a peaceful anti-NPD rally in another part of town that his government would use undercover agents, court challenges and youth education programmes to undercut the NPD wherever it could”, which suggests he may like to brush up a little on his history. The report also briefly recounts marches and rallies in Russia, Siberia, France and Greece, where “public transport services, and ships and flights by the state carrier Olympic Airlines were paralyzed across the country as unions planned demonstrations in the capital Athens to coincide with Labor Day”. See also : Berlin.
(On France, see also : ‘Once the lion of the right, Le Pen’s roar now but a whisper’, Susan Sachs, Globe and Mail, May 2, 2008.)
In Palestine, Manar Jibrin writes that ‘Anti Wall demonstration in a Bethlehem village, two Palestinians injured’ (IMEMC News Report, May 2, 2008): “An anti-Wall demonstration of at least two hundred of the residents of the al Ma’sarah village near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem and dozens of International peace activists on Friday. Demonstrators marched from a high school in the village of Al Ma’sarah towards the construction site of the Separation Wall on the village’s farmlands. Work began a year and a half ago no the village’s lands, aimed at confiscating and isolating ten of thousands of dunums of Al Ma’sarah’s land, located south-west of Bethlehem. This week’s demonstration was to celebrate May Day (International Workers Day)…”
In the Philippines, ‘May Day protesters demand wage hikes amid surging rice prices’. “MANILA (AP) – Thousands of workers marched in scorching heat Thursday in May Day protests demanding President Arroyo’s resignation for not raising the minimum wage to help them cope with surging food and fuel prices…”
In South Africa, the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) has issued a May Day statement condemning the police murder of Mathaseni, a militant of the Sebokeng Ward 2 Concerned Residents and the Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP), on April 30: From Haymarket to Sebokeng: the struggle continues. For more information on anti-privatisation struggles in South Africa, see anti privatisation forum.
Elsewhere in Asia, SKorean workers rally against free trade pact: “SEOUL (AFP) — Thousands of South Korean workers rallied Thursday against a planned free trade pact with the United States and the pro-market policies of new President Lee Myung-Bak…”
Zurich/Lausanne, Switzerland: “Police and anti-capitalist protestors clashed in Zurich and Lausanne Thursday after thousands of marchers took to the streets across Swiss cities in traditional May Day demonstrations. In Zurich, where up to 10,000 people took part, police used rubber bullets and water canons after being confronted by around 250 left-wing extremists throwing stones and bottles, according to the Swiss wire agency ATS/SDA. Around 20 people were arrested. Police were also looking for a motorist who drove off after driving his car into the crowd injuring two people. In Lausanne a McDonald’s restaurant was evacuated after it became a target for protestors who smashed windows.”
In Turkey, the police have had a riot: Turkish police disperse workers defying May Day ban, International Herald Tribune (AP); Riot cops swoop on Turkish May Day rally (CNN); Police break up Turkey marchers (BBC).
Oh yeah, and in the UK, BONK HOLIDAY: BRITS OUT FOR SEXY WEEKEND, writes Cameron Millar of The Daily Star: “SEX-MAD Brits are set to turn this weekend into a sizzling BONK holiday.”
Also : Workers in Asia and Europe Commemorate May Day / On May Day, a mix of rallies, violence and even hints of hope, AP; ‘Asian workers protest during May Day parade’, The Times, May 2, 2008; May Day; International Labour Day, UN Observer; The Origins and Traditions of May Day, Eugene Plawiuk, La Revue Gauche, May 1, 2006; The ONLY Spies I trust!, slackbastard, May 9, 2006.
“IF YOU CANNONADE US
we shall dynamite you.” You laugh! Perhaps you think, “You’ll throw no more bombs;” but let me assure you that I die happy on the gallows, so confident am I that the hundreds and thousands to whom I have spoken will remember my words; and when you shall have hanged us, then, mark my words, they will do the bomb-throwing! In this hope do I say to you: “I despise you. I despise your order; your laws; your force-propped authority.
HANG ME FOR IT!”
~ Louis Lingg (September 9, 1864 — November 10, 1887)
“But, if you think that by hanging us, you can stamp out the labor movement — the movement from which the downtrodden millions, the millions who toil and live in want and misery — the wage slaves… if this is your opinion, then hang us! Here you will tread upon a spark, but there, and there, and behind you and in front of you, and everywhere, flames will blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out.
THE GROUND IS ON FIRE
upon which you stand. You can’t understand it. You don’t believe in magical arts, as your grandfathers did, who burned witches at the stake, but you do believe in conspiracies; you believe that all these occurrences of late are the work of conspirators! You resemble the child that is looking for his picture behind the mirror. What you see, and what you try to grasp is nothing but the deceptive reflex of the stings of your bad conscience. You want to “stamp out the conspirators” — the “agitators?” Ah, stamp out every factory lord who has grown wealthy upon the unpaid labor of his employees. Stamp out every landlord who has amassed fortunes from the rent of overburdened workingmen and farmers. Stamp out every machine that is revolutionizing industry and agriculture, that intensifies the production, ruins the producer, that increases the national wealth, while the creator of all these things stands amidst them, tantalized with hunger! Stamp out the railroads, the telegraph, the telephone, steam and yourselves — for
EVERYTHING BREATHES THE REVOLUTIONARY SPIRIT.”
~ August Spies (December 10, 1855 — November 11, 1887)