We publish here a collection of May Day reports from supporters of the IMT in several different countries.
This year May Day in Pakistan was observed at a time when the working class is facing an onslaught of ruthless attacks from the ruling class. Apart from ever increasing price hikes, unemployment and the miseries of life, the ruling class in Pakistan is making life difficult for workers through implementing the draconian policies of international financial institutions.
The present government of Nawaz Sharif announced the privatization of 68 public sector institutions as soon as it came into power three years ago. Nawaz Sharif and his family are one of the leading industrialists of the country and his party is traditionally supported by industrialists, petty bourgeoisie and traders in Punjab. As political proteges of Army dictator Zia ul Haq in the ‘80s, the Sharifs are remembered by the working class in Pakistan by their horrific crimes against workers in the factories. Stories of throwing labour leaders in furnaces used for melting iron and other similar atrocities are common among the workers. These rulers and their ministers and other MPs have always been hated by the working class of Pakistan. In his last stint as Prime Minister of the country he abolished May Day as a public holiday and banned the inspection of factories by Labour Inspectors to guarantee safe working conditions for workers and the implementation of labour laws.
Since then Labour laws have been regularly amended in favour of Industrialists and more restrictions on trade unions and labour organizations are being made. All other parties are wholeheartedly following the same line, and that of their imperialist masters.
At the moment all public sectors workers are facing the attacks of privatization. In Pakistan less than 3 percent of the workers are unionized and most of them are in the public sector. Institution like Pakistan International Airlines, Railways, WAPDA (electricity), Steel Mills, hospitals, schools, colleges, water and sewerage and others are being sold to private owners for peanuts. As a result of this the jobs of millions of workers are at risk. In the private sector the situation is even worse where there are no unions, no limit of working hours, no weekly holiday, no health and safety measures and brutal exploitation goes on endlessly. If ever there is effort to register a union by workers that is thrashed by the management first of all, later labour department, Police, judiciary and other state departments come in to support the industrialists and workers are left with no option but to surrender to this brutality. There was a time when trade unions were relatively strong in Pakistan and working conditions were better, but this was achieved after the marvellous efforts of the working class in the revolution of 1968-69 and latter struggles. After the collapse of Soviet Union and betrayal of the leadership of PPP the working class in Pakistan is facing an onslaught of brutal attacks on a regular basis. Privatizing remaining public sector departments means breaking the already tiny unionized section of the working class in Pakistan and sending millions of public sector workers to the altar of the private owners, who exploit them ruthlessly.
But despite this situation there are movements in every sector which include public sector and private sector workers. This was reflected on this May Day also. Despite lack of leadership in trade unions and total betrayal of all political parties who have abandoned this event many meetings were organized in different cities. Comrades of the Red Workers Front participated in large number of these meetings and conveyed their solidarity and their message of revolutionary socialism to end this misery.
In the morning a joint meeting of various trade union organizations was held at Egerton road in which workers and labour leaders from WAPDA (electricity department), health workers, telecommunication and other departments participated. Comrades of RWF participated with a special edition of "Worker Nama" in their hands which was appreciated by the participants.
In the afternoon a labor conference on May Day was organized by the workers of She-e-Bengal Labor Colony and the Red Workers Front (RWF) in which workers of different factories of Lahore participated. Stage secretary was Javed Khokhar from Tayyaba Manufacturers while speakers included Adam Pal, Rashid Khalid from RWF, Aftab Ashraf from YDA Punjab Cardiology, Adeel Zaidi from RWF, Sibghat Wyne from Gujranwala, Gulzada Safi Information secretary Punjab Teachers Union Gujranwala, Ali Ousat senior journalist, Dr. Ejaz Ayub from Young Doctors Association Jinah Hospital, Maqsood Hamdani from WAPDA and Ch. Rasheed from Emco Tiles Workers Union.
The speakers said it was a tragedy that the Chicago workers who fought and died for the basic rights of workers are being saluted at such a time when the same basic rights are being taken away in the steepest and most destructive crisis of capitalism from the workers the world over. Today is not a day to just salute the martyrs but also a day to organize workers and take the labor movement forward so that through a socialist revolution the workers take control of their own destinies and do away with the wage slavery and tyranny of capitalism. Speakers also condemned the apathy of labour department and its officials and how workers are denied basic right of unionizing through vicious nexus of labour department, factory management and Police.
On May Day workers started gathering at the main crossing near district courts early in the morning carrying placards, banners and shouting red salutes to the Chicago workers. The gathered workers belonged to power looms (textile industry), brick kilns, textile mills and other sectors.
The first activity of workers was in Chiniot Bazar organized by Janbaz Labor Federation (JLF) in which large crowds of power looms and brick kiln workers participated. Comrades of Red Workers Front (RWF) intervened with Worker Nama which was received enthusiastically by the workers and many contacts were taken. In the end, a resolution was passed unanimously which demanded pay increment of 50% of skilled and unskilled workers, permanent jobs for workers in all industries, labor laws implementation, increase in wages of power looms and brick kiln workers and provision of social security and old age benefits cards.
The second activity was in the afternoon in labor colony situated on Jaranwala road. Workers from different unions and industries participated enthusiastically. Comrade Akhtar Munir started the program with revolutionary poetry and then went on to talk about May Day and the problems being faced by the workers today. He said that the problems of the working class can only be solved in socialism where production is not just for profit but the emancipation of humanity and today on this May day we pledge to continue the struggle till complete victory.
In the evening, a play on May day was presented in the Minerva Theatre in collaboration with Hum Khyal Theatre and Faisalabad Arts Council in which all comrades were present. Comrade Safdar, who works in power loom industry acted in the play. A large crowd attended the play and applauded the efforts enthusiastically. Comrades also sold Worker Nama in large numbers.
A conference was organized by Punjab Teachers Union (PTU) and Red Workers Front (RWF) at TMA Hall in Kamoki, district Gujranwala against announced privatization of government schools. Speakers included PTU President of Sub division Kamoki Malik M. Ilyas, Information Secretary of PTU Gujranwla Gulzada Khan, Joint Secretary PTU Kamoki Habib-ur-Rehman,Tahir Awan, Rahat, Rasheed Lodhi, Ahsan Virk and others. Comrade Adam Pal was the chief guest at the occasion and concluded the whole discussion with his fiery speech. Comrade Nasira Wyne conducted the stage.
The gathering of around 800 teachers, including more than two hundred female teachers in this meeting reflects the anger against this privatization policy. All the teachers vowed to continue the struggle against privatization. Speakers said that government wants to snatch the right of education from the children of working class while the rich people have luxury private schools where their children can have advance education. Budget of education is already less than one percent and now the policy is even to get rid off of what is their of government school system All schools are being handed over to private sector through PEF( Punjab Education Foundation) after which government will have no responsibility for education. More than 800,000 teachers in Punjab will go unemployed while millions of school children will have no education at all. This will send our next generations to backwardness and ignorance. Comrade Adam Pal in his speech said that this is a fight between rich and poor. See the homes of rich, their hospitals, housing societies, education for their children, their food, their clothes and their transport while look what we have got. It is a struggle between haves and have nots. Now they are attacking our basic right of education and we should fight to get it back. They have already taken electricity, health and better lives from us. This is time to stand up against this ruling class. All political parties have privatization on their agenda and we reject them all. This was met with a thunderous applause and revolutionary slogans were raised.
After the meeting a rally was held from TMA hall to City square on main highway. Teachers raised slogans against privatization of schools and for providing education to children of working class. Rally turned into a public meeting at City Square and was joined by general workers of the city. Comrade Adam Pal, Comrade Gulzada and Malik Ilyas addressed the meeting and explained that only way forward is to continue for their struggle.
May Day activities were organized by All Pakistan Workers Confederation to commemorate the struggles of martyrs of Chicago. Workers and leadership from different political parties, journalists associations, and trade unions were in attendance. Speakers spoke about the essence of May Day and were of the view that today workers need to be organized on the agenda of anti-privatization to take the labor movement forward. The Panama leaks have shown that the burden of the crisis has been shifted on the workers’ shoulders while all the wealth created by the workers is shifted to the offshore accounts of capitalists. The ruling class lost legitimacy years ago and these leaks have now spurred the workers to rectify the situation.
Umer Riaz, Sohaib Hanif, Ahmer Ali, Sohail and Masood of Red Workers Front (RWF) participated in the activity and rally and also sold the Worker Nama which was enthusiastically received.
A meeting was organized by the workman association of Pakistan Ordinance Factory. A large number of worker participated in the meeting like every year. Management tried to cancel the meeting this year on the pretext of security reasons but in the end meeting was organized and held successfully. Comrades of RWF participated in the meeting and sold "Worker Nama" which was appreciated and bought enthusiastically by the workers.
A large rally was organized by unions in Abbotabad. Participants included All Teachers Association, CNW, TMA, carts workers and others. The rally started from Press Club and ended at District council Club after passing through main market.
The leadership of different unions lauded the struggles of the Chicago martyrs and compared the conditions of workers in Pakistan to the workers of 1886. They reiterated that a similar struggle for rights is now urgently needed in Pakistan and the world to free the workers from the toil and exploitation of capitalism. Comrades of Red Workers Front (RWF) participated in the rally and sold large number of Worker Nama which was enthusiastically appreciated by the workers.
Many activities, rallies and protests were organized by different unions in Multan in which workers of different industries, factories and unions participated. Comrades of RWF participated in all the activities held.
A large rally was organized by railway workers from Railway Station to Railway Square in which workers of different departments of railways participated. Riaz Ghalib, M. Rafiq, M. Ajmal, Ayub, Niamat Ali and Inam Baig addressed the rally and paid tribute to the Chicago martyrs. The martyrs painted white flags to red with their blood and even today, the blood of workers has no meaning for the capitalists. Every month 5% pay is being cut in lieu of workers quarters repair but the quarters look like ruins of a gone by era and the workers are at risk of loss of life in their own homes.
RWF workers pledged solidarity with the workers and sold Worker Nama in large numbers which was received enthusiastically by the workers. A series of interviews concerning the problems of railway workers will be started soon.
Allah Wasaya Textile Mill
This mill is of historical importance as during the 1968-69 revolution, workers took over the mill and managed it themselves. A large number of workers from the mill participated in May Day rally under the leadership of General Secretary Abdul Qadir Shah and President Haji Abdul Ghafoor. Workers told the RWF workers that the mill owners have made a habit of stopping workers pays for months at end but their profits keep flowing. The workers invited RWF to the mill and also bought many copies of Worker Nama.
Colony Textile Mill
This mill is situated in the Muzaffarabad area of Multan. The mill owner was a personal friend of the dictator Zia-ul-Haq and in 1978 had stopped the pay of workers for many months, giving the reason that his daughter was getting married! Zia was also invited to the marriage. Workers on hearing this arranged a protest for their rights on 2nd January 1978. Zia got scared, thinking the workers were coming to attack him and ordered the army to open fire. Fourteen workers died, hundreds were injured and the roads were soaked in blood.
A large gathering of workers participated in the May Day 2016 activities. These included Yameen and Shehenshah Bukhari, who had survived the rain of bullets that black day in 1978. The workers have not been paid for the last four months. They did not even have enough money to buy a copy of Worker Nama (R.S 20/$0.20) but the young workers collected coins from each other and bought a couple of copies.
A huge rally of the Rickshaw Union was organized from Dera Ada Square and a two hour sit in was arranged at Nawan City Square. The rickshaw drivers said that they were daily wage earners but the city administration is not the least concerned whether their children go to sleep hungry or not. The police especially targets them with unlawful fines which when paid leave little money to survive on. Already many of them are in deep debt because the rickshaws are bought with borrowed money which has to be paid off.
The union members raised slogans against inflation, the city administration, unemployment and also bought a large number of Worker Nama. They also invited the RWF workers to give interviews and take a leading role in the struggle against this injustice.
Mehmood Textile Mill
The mill is situated on Muzaffargarh Road and a rally by the workers was organized under the leadership of Master Fayyaz. The workers paid tribute to the Chicago martyrs and expressed firmness to fight for labour rights. They bought copies of Worker Nama and invited the RWF to visit the factory.
Pakistan National Textile, Leather, Garments and General Workers Federation
The largest rally in Multan, with a huge participation of women workers, was organized by the Pakistan National Textile, Leather, Garments and General Workers Federation in which workers from many factories and industries participated. Workers raised slogans against privatization, for pay increases, social security and old age benefits cards and implementation of labour laws. The workers enthusiastically welcomed Worker Nama and and bought many copies.
Brick Kiln Workers
A large rally was organized under the leadership of Babu Nafees Ansari, Peter Ashraf Ansari, Naeem Haroon, Fayyaz Ameen and Razia Erik of the brick kiln workers. The participants said the workers toil day and night to make bricks which are used to make huge houses of the rulers while the workers themselves are forced to live under the open skies. There is rampant child and bondage labour in the industry and the only way forward is to struggle like the Chicago workers. We will continue our fight till we win our rights.
The May Day convention was organized by the Red Workers Front (RWF) in the Gulistan Textile Mills in which workers and representatives of different unions participated. Comrade Jalil Mangla conducted the stage.
Labour leaders Rafiq Chanar and Malik Sajid Chanar spoke about the horrific conditions of the workers in the mills and the struggle that the workers have been waging for their rights. Fazeel Asghar of the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) spoke of the Chicago workers struggle and the urgent need for the crucial link up between youth and the labor movements for struggle against capitalism. Dr. Yasir Irshad of the RWF spoke about the horrors of capitalism and the need for workers to organize and struggle against the exploitation of capitalism and to fight for socialism.
A large rally was organized by the Red Workers Front (RWF) from Super Milad Square to the Press Club in Lodhran in which different unions, workers and representatives and youth participated. The participants raised slogans against unemployment, workers issues and the privatization of public industries.
Jalil Mangla, Yasir Irshad, H.M. Taqi, Javed Baloch, Noor-ul-Hassan Gujjar, Rao Ismael of RWF, Fayyaz Baloch, Akhlaq Pappo of WAPDA Hydro Workers Union, Dildar Hussain of Kisan Ittehad and others presented resolutions in which it was demanded that government must cancel the privatization policy and protect the rights of workers.
Terminated workers of Silver Line Workers Union of the Textile Mills in Lodhran must be reinstated immediately. Contract employment must be replaced with permanent employment, social security and old age benefits cards must be immediately issued and the minimum wage must be enacted and increased in equivalence to 10 grams of gold. All agricultural raw materials must be made cheaply available to farmers and proper subsidies must be offered.
This year International Worker’s Day was celebrated for the first time in the small town of Kallur Kot in the district of Bhakkar. A mass meeting was held in front of the Deputy District Education Office in Old Town Committee. The meeting was organized by the Punjab Teachers Union (PTU) Kallur Kot leadership and activists. PTU General Secretary Rana Tariq made an extra effort to make the meeting a resounding success. The Red Workers Front (RWF) also took part in preparations and invited different unions including WAPDA, electrical workers, lawyers, clerks associations and others. Bilal Azar was the stage secretary. Speakers included Rana Farooq, Mushtaq Sajid and Haji Ameer Khan of the PTU, Rana Khushi Muhammad of WAPDA, Paras Jan of the RWF and others. A large number of women teachers also participated in the meeting.
Speakers spoke about the struggle and sacrifices of the Chicago workers in 1886 and pledged to fight for workers' rights and against the privatization policies of the state according to the traditions of the Chicago workers.
Afterwards, a rally was organized which moved from the office to the Railway gate where WAPDA workers pledged their solidarity to the PTU’s struggle against privatization of schools and colleges. For the first time in the history of this small town, women came out on the road to protest for their demands, which was an astonishing thing for the general public. The participants in the rally shouted slogans against capitalism, privatization policy, against privatization of health and education and against one class one teacher policy. After the rally, the participants dispersed peacefully.
A large May Day conference and rally was organized by different trade unions and workers of Dadu. The rally started out from the Highway Labor Hall and after passing through the city ended at Cinema Square where arrangements for the conference had been made. Participants raised slogans about the martyrs of Chicago, labor struggles and workers’ rights.
Participants included Zameer Korejo, Abdul Hameed Jamali, Ahmed Panwar and Warel Meerani of the WAPDA Hydro Workers Union, Morel Panwar of the Highways Works and Services Employees Union, Ahmed Solangi of the Municipal Employees Union, Abbas Ali Waghio of the Rickshaw Union, M. Khan Mallah, Azam Chanku, Anwar and others, representatives and workers of the All Pakistan Paramedical Staff, All Pakistan Local Government Works Federation, Primary Teachers Association, APCA, PTUDC and the Red Workers Front (RWF).
Speakers spoke about the struggles and hardships faced by the Chicago workers in the struggle for labor rights and about the current conditions of workers in Pakistan. To organize and fight for workers’ rights is the real tribute to the martyrs of Chicago. The government is hell bent on the policy of privatization which will never be allowed. The time has come for the decisive battle against unemployment, poverty and exploitation of the capitalists and workers must prepare for the coming battles.
In the evening a meeting was organized in Marvi Goth by the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and Marvi Goth Youth Alliance to discuss May Day and the sacrifices of the Chicago workers. Stage secretary was Sabir Hussain.
Speakers included Tasawur Qaisarani of the PYA, and Professor Khan and Mezan Rahi. The workers of Chicago fought for the rights of the workers and sacrificed their lives, lighting the way forward for the labor movement. The workers have been divided for decades by the ruling class and exploited to the last drop of blood. Now the workers the world over are fighting against privatization, unemployment, increased taxation, decreased pay, cuts in social spending and labor rights. The capitalist system is archaic, historically finished and now can offer only destruction and barbarism. The only way forward is to defeat it by preparing for the coming revolution so that a new dawn for humanity can be welcomed. This is the historical task of this generation.
A rally was organized by the United Labour Forum and National Trade Union Federation in which workers from the ship breaking industry and others participated in large numbers. the rally was led by Nasir Mehmood, Allah Warayo Lassi, Yameen Barfat and Basheer Ahmad Mehmoodani. The rally made a round of the city and participants raised slogans against unemployment, price hikes and poverty. At the end the rally turned into a public meeting and the leader addressed the meeting. Speakers also include Manzoor Baloch, Nasir Mansoor and Abdul Wali Kakar.
"Worker Nama" was sold to workers in this rally which was received enthusiastically. The United Labour Forum announced its affiliation with the IMT in the Unity Conference held on 19-20 March in Lahore.
Like every year a public meeting was held jointly by the Pakistan Workers Confederation, Balochistan Workers Confederation, Muttahida Labour Federation and others. Comrade Bilawal Baloch from the Baloch Students Organization (Pajjar) spoke at the meeting along with many other labour leaders and extended solidarity to the workers on this day from students of Balochistan. Comrades of the RWF were also present at the meeting and sold "Worker Nama" to the workers in the rally and meeting.
Comrades of BSO (Pajjar) also organized May Day activity in Sohbat Pur in Balochistan and paid tribute to the martyrs of Chicago in 1886.
May Day has always been celebrated in Sweden by thousands of people in cities and towns across the country. It is usually the day with the biggest demonstrations of the year, where many who usually don´t turn up to other demonstrations go out to show their support for left wing politics, working class struggle and solidarity. Young people and families turn out to shout the usual slogans for a 6-hour working day, “International solidarity – the working class unity in struggle”, “no racists on our streets” and many more.
"Revolution", the IMT in Sweden, were present in the May Day celebrations in 7 cities, selling a total of 320 papers, 196 in Gothenburg alone! This marked a clear qualitative step for us, as we were more visible than ever before, selling more books, pamphlets, merchandise and papers than in previous years. It was clear that there is a real surge for radical ideas.
This year's demonstrations were in most cities smaller than the last two years. This is the result of an ebb in the struggle that erupted during 2014 with demonstrations against fascist attacks, against the growing support for the racist Swedish Democrats, and of Refugees Welcome in 2015. After the turn to the right by the government, that in the autumn 2015 introduced border controls to stop refugees coming into the country, and with the exhaustion of the Refugees Welcome movement, the general mood has been passive and depressed.
But there are signs that this is starting to change with a very angry and radical mood on the latest demonstrations against fascist demonstrations. This was also visible during May Day where especially the youth were very angry and radical, especially in Borlänge where fascists were allowed to demonstrate protected by the police, but also surrounded by angry youth protesting against them.
Another reason the demonstrations were smaller is the disgust many feel towards the Labour movement and the turn to the right by the traditional workers parties. This could be seen in the fact that in many cities the anarchists were able to organize big demonstrations which attracted a lot of youth. The mood in their demonstrations were completely different from the ones organized by the Social Democrats and the Left Party (in the bigger cities the Left party, Social Democrats, the smaller left-wing sects and the anarchists all organize their own demonstrations).
In Gothenburg the anarchists had 1160 people in their demonstration whereas the Social Democrats only had 1250 - almost the same figure! The Left Party demonstration was also a lot bigger in Gothenburg than the Social Democrats, according the Left Party 6100 participated and according to the police 3000. This shows that although on the surface there seems to be a turn to the right, in reality we are witnessing a turn the left – also shown by the recent strikes by the construction workers and painters – preparing a new period of upsurge in the struggle.
The first was a demonstration organized by the main union federations in the province. Traditionally this demonstration draws out tens of thousands of workers but this years demonstration was much smaller than previous years and only managed to draw out a few thousand participants at most. This was mainly due to the fact that the leadership of the public sector unions just led the huge public sector strike movement to defeat and signed a sellout deal which will see real wages of the workers not keep pace with inflation and the retirement age increase by a year.
Following the union protest, we went to a much smaller “anti-capitalist May Day" demonstration organized by a coalition of small radical groups. This demonstration drew out a couple of hundred participants at most. Police presence, as expected was very heavy and the demonstration ended by being dispersed by the police with 10 people being arrested.
The comrades from the IMT intervened enthusiastically in both demonstrations, selling copies of their Fightback and La Riposte and speaking to workers and youth about the need to fight against the capitalist system in order to defeat the austerity measures of the Liberal government. Many people were also very interested in our manifesto against austerity which we published last year. This was a big seller!
In spite of the rain and the low turnout for the demonstrations, the comrades did a fantastic job and finished the day enthusiastic for our prospects in building the forces of Marxism in Quebec and Canada. More than ever, youth and workers are looking for our ideas and we are becoming more and more a pole of attraction as was witnessed by the fantastic turnout at the Montreal Marxist Winter School in February of this year.
The future is ours comrades!
May Day isn’t a big tradition in Toronto - with the unions mostly focussing their efforts on Labour Day in September - so the day is mostly organized by the far left. The presence of Black Lives Matter Toronto was a notable change from previous years, especially with recent protests against police violence. Despite the low turnout of about 300, and rainy weather, the comrades of the IMT were a strong and energetic presence. Everywhere you turned, comrades were having discussions and selling the paper - by the end, one in every ten people at the demonstration had bought a copy of Fightback. Though the day itself was dreary, we injected much spirit and enthusiasm into the event.
The celebration of May Day has a big tradition in Austria. The comrades of Der Funke intervened in a dozen activities of the Social-Democratic Party (SPÖ), torch marches of the Young Socialists and left wing and immigrant demonstrations. We were present in Vienna, Graz, Linz, Innsbruck and Bregenz.
The mood at the SPÖ marches was highly polarised, especially in Vienna. The standing party leader, Faymann, was booed out and had to stop this speech after 3 minutes. But also the party activists were split amongst themselves. This is due to the recent election result and also due to a the fact that a growing sector in the party and the trade union apparatus wants to form a coalition with the right-wing FPÖ in future. In fact it almost appeared as if there were two parties, with different wings of the Social Democracy acting very aggressively towards each other. Some people went so far as to show their middle fingers and pushing each other and also acting aggressively towards sellers of Der Funke who argued against a further shift to the right. The party apparatus used riot police to drag out critical sectors of the march such as the Socialist Students.
In one region, the Tyrol, the party cancelled May Day celebrations, and this is the first time this has happened since the end of Nazi rule. In the region of Vorarlberg the demonstration of the Young Socialists, Der Funke and immigrant organisations, for the first time, outnumbered the Social Democratic celebration.
Due to an energetic intervention, the Marxists sold 381 papers. Also we sold dozens of pamphlets, and especially well received was the new edition of a pamphlet called “Critics of Austromarxism” which was written in illegality in 1936 by a leading comrade of the then Revolutionary Socialist, a revolutionary split off the Social Democracy after the defeat of 1934.
Revolutionære Socialister had a great May Day intervention this year. May day is an important day in the Danish labour movement, with tens of thousands rallying in the main cities. We had a good intervention with great enthusiasm from the comrades, which also gave results, as part of our general process of growth that we are experiencing at the present time. Our Danish paper Revolution and our new English paper Revolt sold well over 200 copies combined in Copenhagen, Århus and Horsens which was more than last year.
We got several contacts from the intervention, but equally important several new sympathisers spent a lot of time with us during the day, discussing Marxism and helping out.
The highlight of the intervention was our launch of a Danish Marxist paper in English. It is a small but nevertheless historical event in the Danish workers' movement, and to our knowledge we are the only left-wing organization in Denmark who now have an English speaking branch. This achievement is all the more important considering the dominant anti-immigration and outright racist policies which emanate from the political establishment and which has also affected the so-called leaders of the labour movement.
In that sense Revolutionære Socialister reintroduced “INTERNATIONAL” into the International Workers Day in Denmark.
Nigerian workers joined their counterparts across the world to mark this year’s May Day amidst deep anger, lamentation, frustration and despair as twenty-seven out of thirty-six states of the federation are owing workers more than four-month salaries.
In Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, the venue of the May Day rally was very scanty as few workers turned out for the event. This, according to some workers we interacted with, was due to the inability of workers to even afford transport fares to the venue, as Oyo State government is currently owing workers five-month salaries! The rally ground was dominated by informal sector workers such as the Hair Dressers Association, Shoe Sellers Association, among others. The Governor, who used to grace the occasion, was conspicuously absent for fear of being booed by the angry workers. We intervened decisively with our paper, Workers’ Alternative, and sold 56 copies. We also used the occasion to invite workers to the May Day symposium organized by the Joint Action Front (JAF), in which our organization is one of the affiliates in collaboration with trade unions, to discuss the state of the nation on the 2nd May, the following day.
The Symposium took place at the Nigeria Labour Congress Secretariat in Ibadan and was well attended by both the labour leadership and the ordinary workers. We were among the lead speakers, which also included the Chairman of the NLC and TUC. We used the opportunity to explain the ideas of the IMT which were well received by the workers. It was unanimously agreed that a mass rally should hold in Ibadan on May 29th - a public holiday observed in Nigeria as Democracy Day - to show the whole world that this is not the type of democracy that people want. 90 copies of Workers’ Alternative were sold at the symposium and two contacts made.
In Lagos State, the two factions of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) organized separate May Day rallies. While the Wabba-led NLC faction - which is the faction recognized by the state - in conjunction with the TUC organized a rally at Onikan Stadium, the Ajaero-led NLC faction, comprising mainly private sector unions such as NUPENG, NUEE, NUBIFIE, marched from the NLC National Secretariat Annexe, Yaba-Lagos, to the National Stadium in Surulere-Lagos. Considering our limited numerical strength, we decided to concentrate our forces at the Onikan stadium rally. As early as 9:00am workers had arrived at the venue of the rally in their thousands. As expected, the reformist leaders of the unions sang praises of the Lagos Government for not owing salaries. Salary payment is a big deal in today’s Nigeria. Expressing pressure from below, the leaders, however, warned the government to desist from the planned privatization of the state-owned water corporation. Though a significant percentage of its land mass is water, the Lagos State Government has been unable to provide good, potable water for its teeming populace.
Workers at the rally were very disappointed in the State Governor for failing to show up at the rally, as it is the tradition. His representative, the Head of Service, was booed by the workers despite tendering apologies on behalf of her boss. The Governor’s speech, which she tried to deliver, was interrupted by thunderous shouts of the angry workers. The traditional march pass by various unions was consequently cancelled as the atmosphere became rowdy. We sold 97 copies in total.
In Uyo, the Akwa-Ibom State capital, the Workers' Day celebration was well marked. Workers from all walks of life marked in the event which was held at Uyo Township Stadium. They defied the Sunday worship in their various churches to attend the event and then to listen to what the governor would say to them.
We arrived when the speeches had just begun. We were able to go round with the papers before the Governor was done with his speech. All the speakers shared something in common, that Akwa Ibom State is not owing workers, a statement the workers booed at. The most aggressive and militant union was the NUT. They bought one-third of the papers we sold. They told us to include in our next publication an article detailing the true state of affairs: how since 2011, the promotion allowance has not been paid, the same with Leave grants, Pension and Gratuities, and how Local Government workers are being owed, while State Government workers only receive basic salaries, with no clue as to when their allowances and other entitlements will be paid.
We sold the papers while engaging them in discussion. We told them not to take the statement coming from the state's ruling elite seriously, because they would continue to attack the workers after the event. We explained to them the need for an alternative ideology from the one the ruling elite has been espousing; that the Workers' Alternative is a working class newspaper; that it is written with the interest of the workers in mind, and it is written to arm the working class with the necessary ideas for their struggle; that we, as an organization are here to fight with the working class to capture power; that begging the ruling class for salary increases would never cease if the working class don’t think about taking power. We sold 36 copies of Workers’ Alternative paper and two contacts were made.
In Kano State, comrades intervened at the rally but unfortunately the vehicle carrying our papers from Lagos took almost 36 hours to get to Kano and got there just after the event. The paper is finally with the comrades and arrangements are being made to start distributing it to various unions.
In all the centers we intervened in, workers lamented their poor conditions. The illusions in this regime that assumed office less than one year ago on the slogan of “change” are gradually fading. Workers complained that their situation has not changed, rather things are getting worse. They are generally receptive to our ideas.
In past decades the day of the liberation from Nazi-fascism, the 25th of April, has increasingly become one of the main events of the year for trade union and left-wing activists and youth in Italy, much more felt as their own day than Mayday.
Despite of the institutional character of the official commemoration (which influences most of the older layer), there is a genuine antifascist feeling and an open attitude among the youth.
That is the reason we chose to launch our new paper, Rivoluzione, last year, precisely on the 70th anniversary of the liberation from Nazi-fascism. This year, on the same day we started a campaign for new subscriptions and a pre-launch special offer for our new book, “Revolution and counterrevolution in Spain” by Felix Morrow, which will be printed by the beginning of June.
To celebrate the first anniversary of Rivoluzione, we printed a special four-colour double issue, at the price of 2 euros. On “liberation day” we intervened in 27 events (demos, rallies, concerts, etc.) in 22 cities. In total, we sold 622 copies of Rivoluzione. On May Day our intervention was affected by rain in several cities, especially the few ones where mayday still has strong traditions, like Turin.
It is the union leaders' fault that mayday has increasingly become a “normal” holiday and not a militant day, to a point where in several cities no real celebrations are organised! To give an example, in the last 20 years the main event organised by Cgil-Cisl-Uil is a rock concert in Rome, with no political content and heavily sponsored by multinationals.
Nevertheless, in a speech delivered in Genoa, the Cgil General secretary Susanna Camusso spoke in a more militant way. The reason could be that after many provocations by the bosses and Renzi government the union leader are forced to call strikes in several sectors during the month of may. Shop assistants, tourist sector workers, public sector, school teachers are going to strike against the attack on the national bargaining system. On April 20, metal workers waged a 4-hour general strike for the same reason.
Considering all these factors, Our intervention was a good one. We sold 274 copies of Rivoluzione and collected more than 700 euros. One of activities that helped the fighting fund collection was the selling of carnations in cities like Reggio Emilia and Bologna, were we collected more than 300 euros.
For the first time we were present with our own flags. They were received well. In Milan, for example, several people bought (and other asked for) one of our flags and carried it with them for the entire demo. With the general collapse of left-wing organisations and parties, people are looking for a political alternative but also for militant symbols as well.
We discussed, when launching our new independent movement, the need to be bolder, to raise our profile higher, and the flags are a part of this effort. Our organisation is on the map of the workers' movement in Italy and with April 25 and mayday's intervention we reaffirmed it!
Comrades from the Bloque Popular Juvenil (Peoples Yoyuth Block) energetically intervened in the May Day march and rally in San Salvador, with about 80,000 people taking place. The mood at the march was one of enthusiasm and of putting pressure on the left wing government to deliver on some of its promises, like the increase in the minimum wage in the face of strong opposition by the right wing. Our comrades were part of the organising committee and had a delegate in the platform.
The Honduran comrades of the International Marxist Tendency marched for the first time on May Day, together with organisations they are part of, including the Socialist Youth, and sold copies of the IMT Spanish language magazine America Socialista. "Long live the working class and the youth - Greetings from Honduras.
The May Day events in Mexico took place in a context of severe attacks against the working class. The Peña Nieto government is trying to implement an educational reform which is actually a labor reform against education workers. The teachers have been fighting against this reform for three years. The government has announced 3,660 layoffs of teachers who oppose this reform. The democratic wing of the unions is calling for an indefinite strike from 15 May. Along with this, the workers of the newly created Ministry of Culture have formed a democratic union, like agricultural proletarians of San Quintin. These two unions marched for the first time on May Day, along with teachers, parents of the dissappeared teacher trainees of Ayotzinapa, miners, electricians, telephone operators, pilots, flight attendants and other unions who gathered in the Zocalo of Mexico City.
The IMT in Mexico participated in the union marches to which we belong. We also organised a block with students of the polytechnic university. Students of this IPN institution are struggling with several schools on strike. Several of the activists and leaders of the struggle of the IPN are members of the CLEP student union and are part of the IMT. These comrades have gone through sleepless nights, through hunger, of fatigue and repression, but they nevertheless prioritised being present in the May Day manifestations.
The Marxist tendency intervened with our paper Izquierda Socialista in the various May Day events. We also sold classical and contemporary Marxist books published by the Karl Marx Center for Socialist Studies.
The Swiss section of the IMT was present at May Day events and demonstrations in 11 cities across the country. Three supporters of the Marxist tendency were able to address the demonstrators in Zürich, Basel and Winterthur highlighting the necessity of an international struggle against capitalism in order to solve the problems of the working class. Our successful intervention with over 700 papers sold show the potential of Marxist ideas in Switzerland.