May Day 2008 reports

Yesterday workers all over the world were celebrating May Day. The general mood reflected the sharpening class contradictions and anger against capitalist misery, but also against the bureaucracy of the labour movement. Here we are publishing reports of our supporters from the USA, Greece, Austria, Switzerland, Britain and Spain (in Spanish).

May Day Report Minneapolis (USA)

Minneapolis The Minneapolis / St. Paul branch of the Workers International League helped organize and participated in an Immigrant Rights march through downtown St. Paul to the state capitol building demanding "immediate and unconditional legalization for all" and "stop the raids and deportations". The weather held up - there was rain in the forecast - and an estimated 800 to 1,000 people came out for the march and rally. 

Most marchers were Latino immigrants, but there were also many others from the community.
It was a good turnout given the weather, the fact that it was a week day, and the general ebb in the movement as compared to two years ago.  There was decent  labor representation (UFCW local 789 had a banner) an also a small anti-war contingent, as well as an energetic contingent of students. 

Minneapolis The rally was opened by a member of the Lakota tribe, one of the "original people of this land", who welcomed everyone to America, which was received with raucous applause. Speakers ranged from an immigrant working mother who explained the history of May Day and the Chicago martyrs, two trade unionists who explained the importance of this day and focused on the need for workers to unite in struggle to improve our quality of life, a Latino war veteran linking this movement with the struggle against the war, and a young U.S. citizen whose undocumented father was recently deported to Mexico, leaving the family devastated and in financial ruin.

The WIL comrades helped with security, carried banners, discussed with the media, provided translation and took on other logistical tasks, as well as selling copies of Socialist Appeal and El Militante Sin Fronteras. We also handed out leaflets for our upcoming event with Jorge Martin and other local speakers on "Revolutionary Latin America".

Minneapolis This modest march and dozens of others like it across the U.S. will give confidence to the millions of immigrant workers who are suffering from a wave of state terror in the form of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids and deportations - on top of long hours, low wages, racist discrimination and often inhuman working conditions. All in all it was an energetic and well organized event, setting the stage for future similar actions in the Twin Cities, probably in the fall.

The WIL stands for the immediate and unconditional legalization of all undocumented immigrants. For full rights and amnesty for immigrant workers and their families. For the right of residency and dual citizenship. The right to speak one's own language. Access to Social Security with equal benefits for all. No to "guest worker" programs. For an end to deportations and for family reunification. No to militarization and repression on the border. For the unity of the working class and the trade unions to fight against racism. The labor movement must be at the forefront of the struggle to improve conditions for all workers.

Learn more about the WIL's position on immigration by clicking here.

Contact us to get involved.


Greece: 1st May in the shadow of the betrayal by the trade union leadership

Greece Yesterday in Greece there were organised demonstrations in 68 towns. The participation was in general not big and enthusiastic. The main reason for that was the betraying tactic of the GSEE (Greek Confederation of Workers) leadership which, by refusing to escalate the struggle against the government measures against social security, has led the movement to an impasse. Even worse - only one week after the last big general strike the majority of the GSEE leaders (PASOK [reformist] and ND [Tory] members) signed a ridiculous agreement for 1 Euro increase in wages per day during a period of massive poverty among the ranks of the Greek working class.

As was natural after this agreement, the biggest 1st of May rally was that of PAME (the trade union front of the KKE [Communist Party]). In the central rally of PAME in Athens 4.000 workers participated by holding red banners and shouting anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist slogans. The demonstration finished outside the American embassy.

Greece In the GSEE rally only 1,500-2,000 workers participated. The main factor in this rally was the presence of a youth anarchist block (200 persons, among them some trade unionists) who together with some Maoists were heckling loudly and did not let the speakers be heard, and also throwing plastic bottles at the leaders of GSEE. Their slogan was "Traitors go away". For fear of the anarchists, the leaders of GSEE decided that the demonstration should not be carried out! As a result at the demonstration only some hundreds of the workers and youth who support SYRIZA and some left sects participated. As always, sectarianism is the price paid for the betrayal of the reformism.

The Marxists of "Marxistiki Foni" intervened at both rallies in Athens by selling a big number of papers and with main slogan "Struggle now for a workers' solution to the question of power - fight for a common government KKE and SYRIZA with a socialist programme".

Editorial board of the paper Marxistiki Foni ("Marxist Voice")


Mayday 2008 in Austria: Spreading combative ideas

The Marxists of Der Funke actively participated in 11 Mayday activities of the labour movement all over the country.

Mayday has a long and combative tradition in our country. Every section of the movement is actively participating in its celebration. This year however the mood of the ten thousands of active working-class activists was one of discontent and reflection of permanent defeats. Despite the fact that the Socialdemocratic Party is the leading party in government, the movement is still more so on the defensive then during the time when we had an openly conservative government.

This mood was expressed in several ways: the party thugs who robbed the activists critical banners during the march last year did not even dare to do so this year. When the party leadership welcomed the tens of thousands marchers at the Viennese council hall most militants immediately left the place to head for a drink, a barbecue or something else. A minority of few thousands dared to listen to the leaders, and here most were critical, booing at the party leader Gusenbauer on several occasions. Banners critical of the leadership were in majority here. The one pro Gusenbauer banner was a clear party-paid action: "Now stick together - our symbol is our Dr. Gusenbauer, Migrant Youth". Not few activists thought this is an ironic provocation of a street-art group. Obviously they did not find a single party cell to carry this slogan, so they had to find two migrant youth to do so.

The stage was big, as Madonna and other popstars use it, but people do not like to hear these songs of the party and union leadership anymore, so the scenario had something absurd. The leadership used the make-up of this massive stage to spread lies about the history of the movement. The slogan this year was: "90 years of Republic" and showed working-class activist flying the national flag. This is a blatant lie. The movement in Austria take out their red flags ever since, and on the occasion of the founding of the Austrian Republic the hundreds of thousands of workers cut the white stripe out of the flag and hoisted the red stripes only. Not enough providing nothing for the working-class now, they steal and falsify the history of the whole movement.

The cameras of national TV may spread a distorted picture of what is happening in the movement but the tens of thousands that went on the street can not be easily fooled. The majority of the working-class taking to the streets and places of the country did so not for, but despite, the leadership whose political and moral authority is as low as never before. So low that the vast majority does not even want to listen to their speeches.

We Marxists say that this is a healthy process going on. We can not expect the opposition in the movement to express itself in an immediate organised manner. What keeps the leadership in power is the lack of a viable opposition for the mass of the movement. This leaves many questions for thousand of militants unanswered for the moment.

The Marxists used Mayday to spread the idea of a break with the bourgeois parties. We did so selling our paper on several occasions on and around Mayday, to stipulate the methods of self-financing the Marxist wing of the movement by collecting contributions, exposing banners and distributing thousands of leaflets that were produced in joined action with other left wing tendencies and individual comrades calling for a "conference of the left" that will take place next week.

Over all we participated on 11 mobilisations of the working class. From the conservative areas of Vorarlberg and Tyrol, to the industrial hotbeds in Upper-Austria and Graz in the south, to the central manifestation of the class in Vienna and some surrounding towns.

Over all we sold 550 papers and collected approx. 4200 Euros in contributions for the weekend school we hold in May and for sustaining the YS groups that have be deprived of their resources due to expulsions by the bureaucracy of the labour movement and attacks of the conservative. 

So after hard working defending Marxism and the class standpoint of the working class the militants and friends of the Marxist current had every reason to celebrate their successful interventions and participation in the movement of the working class on Mayday 2008 on their barbecues in the parks and lakes.

Revolutionary greetings to all the readers and supporters of Marxist.com!

Funke Redaktion, 2.5.2008


May Day Intervention in Switzerland

We from Der Funke Switzerland have until now (May 1, 4.00 pm) intervened in two different places, in the city of St. Gallen in the east of Switzerland on April 30, and in Winterthur today, where our group is situated.

St. Gallen had its demonstration (organized by the trade union federation) yesterday because they did not get city authorization to demonstrate today, for it is a catholic canton where May 1 isn`t an official holiday anyway. Three comrades were involved in the intervention in the rather small demonstration (about 150 people) and were able to sell 30 papers. After the demonstration we set up our book stall and sold some literature and pamphlets and had interesting discussions with youth from the young socialists group of St. Gallen and made contacts with them. All in all it was a very quiet demonstration but people were very interested in buying our newspaper and discussing.

Today we had our main intervention at the demonstration in Winterthur, which was organised by the May 1 Committee, where we also took part. We mobilized for the demonstration together with trade union youth from the union Unia and with the young socialists (Juso) under the motto "for a socialist perspective" and formed a "block" together. We have comrades working in both the unions' youth and the Juso, these were able to get the other members involved pretty well. We were able to have a speech before the demonstration started as representative of the Unia-youth. There was a strong participation of youths at the demonstration and it was noisy. After the demonstration we set up our book stall again and are still running it. Until now we`ve already sold around 60 newspapers and a lot of literature, but we will continue doing so for some more hours. It has definitely been an important intervention for us today, especially for our work in the Juso that we have only started 3 months ago. We were able to confront them with our ideas and have discussions with them.

But our intervention isn`t over yet, in Zurich there will be the May 1 Celebration over the whole weekend. We are also going to go there and set up our book stall there for the three days. That the celebrations to Mayday don`t start today is a maneuvre of the bureaucracy of the organizers of these celebrations to prevented them from getting involved into riots on the streets of Zurich, which traditionally has happened over the last 20 years. But for us it is quite favourable, for now we can intervene over 5 days for Mayday and represent our political positions and sell our newspaper. The paper obviously has its emphasis on the workers' struggle in Bellinzona and the one of the construction workers. These two struggles are a great example to explain our positions and shows that class contradictions of capitalism are also breaking up in Switzerland.

This is all until now, we will send you another report about our intervention in Zurich and if possibly some pictures too.

Comradely,
Der Funke Switzerland


Latin American Contingent at May Day 2008 in London

A thousand people gathered in London on Thursday’s 2008 May Day to march through the streets of the capital in celebration of International Workers' Day.

History

London The celebration of May Day as a working class demonstration evolved from the struggle for the eight-hour day in the 1880's. The heart of the movement was in Chicago, organised primarily by the revolutionary International Working Men's Association (the First International). Workers there had been agitating for an 8-hour day for months and, on the eve of May 1st, 50,000 were already on strike. 30,000 more swelled their ranks the next day, bringing most of Chicago manufacturing to a standstill.

On May 3rd police fired into a crowd of strikers at a Factory in Haymarket, killing four and wounding many. A bomb was thrown at the police in retaliation, killing one officer. Workers were arrested, and 4 men were hanged. There was little or no evidence of these men's involvement with the bomb, and the rulings of the court became known as a gross miscarriage of justice.

In Paris in 1889 the founding congress of the Second International declared May 1st an international working class holiday in commemoration of the Haymarket Martyrs and the red flag became the symbol of the blood of working class martyrs in their battle for workers rights.

2008 May Day

London

The 2008 London May Day demonstration was flanked by a Latin American contingent. Hands Off Venezuela, Colombia Solidarity, Bolivia Solidarity, and the Movement of Ecuadorians in the UK held aloft banners and chanted slogans in support of the revolutionary movements in Latin America.

After Demo Meeting

In light of recent and threatening developments in Bolivia, the campaigns decided to organise a joint meeting after the demonstration. About 40 people attended the event and listened to speakers from the different campaigns. Amancay Colque from the Bolivia Solidarity Campaign explained about how the reactionary ruling elite from the oil rich region of Santa Cruz is leading a secessionist movement aimed at sabotaging the democratic process that has taken place since President Morales was elected to power in 2005. The Santa Cruz oligarchy refuse to recognise the new progressive Bolivian constitution which supports much needed land reform, and also supports nationalisation of hydrocarbons, which would bring the countries most profitable industry into public ownership. Amancay reported that Santa Cruz citizens who express their opposition to this seporatist movement are being repressed, especially the indigenous population who support Morales.

London

 

Will Roche from Hands Off Venezuela also expressed his concern over this attempt divide Bolivia, which is a key ally to Venezuela. Will explained that Venezuela too is under attack, both internally, from private business boycotting production to create shortage and economic instability, and also externally, from neighbouring Colombia, who recently assassinated a FARC spokesperson in order to sabotage a hostage release project initiated by Hugo Chavez. This is a clear attempt to destabilise the region by the pro-US Colombian government.

Speakers from Ecuador and Colombia also gave updates about the social movements, and the importance of countering imperialist intervention.

Contributions from the audience expressed great concern over the events in Bolivia, and felt that more pressure should be put on President Morales to take decisive action against the undemocratic and unconstitutional actions of the Santa Cruz oligarchy. The general feeling from the discussion was that Morales was put there by the revolutionary movement, and he should take firm action, in the name of the people, against this counter-revolution.

The energy and enthusiasm of the meeting boldly reflected the impact that Latin American revolutions are having on people here in Britain, and upheld the tradition of International Workers' Day, demonstrating that the May Day spirit is very much alive and kicking.


Informe intervención 1º de Mayo (España/Spain)

Spain Ayer los compañeros de la Corriente Marxista El Militante intervinimos en más de 30 manifestaciones diferentes a lo largo y ancho del país. En total se vendieron más de 1000 ejemplares del periódico, aparte de una importante cantidad de libros y revistas en las diferentes mesas que se han puesto al final de varias manifestaciones.  El Militante es el único periódico obrero que vende en todo el Estado español, realmente conectado con el movimiento y rigurosamente regular (mensual). Con nuestras ideas podemos intervenir en todas las manifestaciones convocadas. Además de las manifestaciones de CCOO y UGT, que han sido las mayoritarias y de ámbito estatal, hemos ofrecido nuestra prensa y nuestras ideas en manifestaciones convocadas por CGT, CIG (Galicia), ELA y LAB (Euskal Herria), SOC (Andalucía). En Barcelona hemos estado la fiesta de los conductores de autobuses de Barcelona (TMB), que han protagonizado una prologada y combativa lucha que ha acabado en victoria.  En la manifestación de Madrid repartimos miles de octavillas convocando un acto con Alan Woods el 2 de junio acerca de la revolución venezolana y la presentación de su nuevo libro "Reformismo y revolución - Marxismo y socialismo en el siglo XXI".

Spain A pesar del obstáculo que suponen las direcciones sindicales de UGT y CCOO (que siendo los que más responsabilidad  tienen de movilizar a los trabajadores, han renunciado a hacer del 1º de Mayo un día reivindicativo y combativo) decenas de miles de trabajadores y jóvenes participan este día en la conmemoración del día internacional de la clase obrera y para la Corriente Marxista El Militante esta es una de las fechas más importantes de nuestro calendario de intervenciones.  Nos permite conectar sectores de trabajadores y jóvenes que buscan una alternativa al capitalismo, reflejándose el interés hacia nuestra prensa y nuestros materiales políticos.

Este año el 1º de Mayo viene precedido por toda una serie de acontecimientos generales y de luchas muy significativas. Como telón de fondo está la crisis económica, el crecimiento del desempleo, la inflación descontrolada y la perspectiva de que esto va a peor y para largo, y que será "gestionada" por un gobierno del PSOE. En el terreno específicamente sindical nos hemos encontrado con luchas muy importantes desde el punto de vista de su desarrollo, métodos y conclusiones. Algunas de ellas han acabado en victorias (funcionarios de Justicia y conductores de autobuses de Barcelona) y han tenido un altísimo grado de combatividad y participación.

Spain Todo esto ha determinado el contenido del periódico de mayo. El tema central que hemos destacado en la portada es la necesidad de la movilización de la clase obrera para hacer frente a los efectos de la crisis y a las medidas ya en marcha que pretenden descargar ésta sobre las espaldas de los trabajadores. La crisis propiciará que el sector más inquieto del movimiento se plantee toda una serie de aspectos de la vida política y sindical, que haya una mayor reflexión. Además, todos los síntomas apuntan a un repunte de la conflictividad laboral, que ya hemos visto en una serie de huelgas que han tenido una repercusión importante. Unido a la idea de la movilización hacemos referencia en portada a la necesidad de que los dirigentes de CCOO y UGT rompan sus pactos con el gobierno y la patronal.

Uno de los atractivos del periódico ha sido el especial de 4 páginas dedicado al 40 aniversario del Mayo del 68 escrito por Alan Woods. También destacamos en portada un artículo sobre la nacionalización de Sidor.