May Day 2002 Report from Belgrade

This is a report of the May Day march in Belgrade.

Around 3,000 workers, from two main unions, gathered downtown Belgrade on May Day to march against the government's politics and the low standard of living. Such a low turnout was due to the union officialdom's lukewarm campaign and a half hearted effort to organise the manifestation. The main official slogan launched by the union leadership was: "For the Reforms!" (the word used here to describe the process of privatisation of formerly state owned property). Apparently the union leadership's main objection to the new government was not the reform itself, but the fact that it was not being carried out fast enough! Calls for a "social dialogue" were extended by the speakers as a democratic western model through which all the friction between the world of labour and the bosses can be resolved. This cowardly tone set from the above caused a lack of enthusiasm among the crowd and an overall apathy; thus the majority of workers decided to stay home that day.

However, everything did not pass so smooth for the union bureaucracy; ignoring the officialdom's appeal, many workers expressed their hatred for the new government by booing and whistling as they passed by the government buildings and the parliament. Also, surprisingly one of the ruling DOS parties, the new united social-democratic party, supported the march therefore breaking the coalition's traditional policy towards the labor movement. Another important notice is that for the first time all of the existing "revolutionary" groups from the left took an active part in this march. The workers had the opportunity, for the first time, to meet with the ideas of various groups ranging from the reformist to the openly Stalinist and anarchist types. Our group, gathered around the Pobunjeni Um (Revolted Reason) website, participated as well; we discussed politics with the workers and distibuted a leaflet which opposed the government's policy; unmasked the true nature of the "reforms" and listed immideate uncompromising demands before the government.