May Day in Austria

The celebrations of May Day this year was another show of strength of the working-class in Austria. In Vienna more than 100.000 militants of the Social-Democratic Party and the unions joined the march. In other industrial centres thousands more joined the rallies, often in their work clothes, like the Fire Brigades in Vienna or the steelworkers of the Voest in Linz.

The speeches given by leading Social Democratic unionists and party functionaries were quite radical in words, presenting the party as a shield against the aggressive policies of the so- called neo-liberal bourgeois government. None the less, in all marches one could feel a widespread uneasiness with the policies of the working class leaders. After the defeats on the strike front the leadership is now presenting the upcoming elections as an alternative and for a change of policies in this country. However, federal elections will not take place in less then two and a half years, and the bourgeois are still prepared to go further along the ally of cuts and destruction, which is now passing over to the health system.

The defeats of the strike movements were a result of the leadership itself. This is a fact that any shop steward who was hindered to go out on a real hard strike knows him/herself. Just before May Day the government hit the railway workers hard, once more counting on the collaboration of the union officials. In a book on the strikes of 2003 several shop stewards point out how the union bureaucracies managed to water down the protests, resulting in the defeat of the last years struggles.

As a result, most militants do not feel assured of their political and union leaders. Also restructuring processes taking place in red councils and the enlargement of the European Union creates more uneasiness among the most advanced workers. Even if many doubts were not raised openly at the rallies, in the hopes of resolving problems in the various bodies of working class organisations, significant layers of the class criticized their own leaders publicly. On the placards of the more than 300 housekeepers of the Vienna council houses, sharp criticisms of the Social Democratic city council could be read. Sections of the Social Democratic unionists did not peacefully pass by the rostrum of the party leaders but visibly demonstrated their eagerness to hit back hard against the government. This has to be understood literally, as the comrades beat for hours on drums that carried the faces of bourgeois politicians. The drummers were even frequently asked by peaceful and well-aged comrades, who normally just wave their red scarves, to hit the hated bourgeois themselves.

The Marxists of Der Funke participated actively in these actions which broke the traditional choreography of the well organised May Day rallies. All in all we participated in twelve May-Day rallies all over the country. We also joined a rally against a planned fascist gathering in Vienna. The demo was a success, and the fascists were not able to move freely on May Day in Red Vienna.

We the Austrian Marxists, send our very best greetings to all the workers of the world.

We have nothing to loose but our chains, and we have a world to win!

ArbeiterInnen aller Länder vereinigt euch!

Workers of the world unite!