Sunday, May 01, 2005

Happy May Day, 2005!

May Day 2005 rallies around the world.

Workers around the world have marked the May Day holiday with protests calling for more rights and improved benefits, reports Al Jazeera. Worldwide celebrations and worker protests show mass solidarity in the internationalist spirit, reminding the capitalist rulers that their days are numbered. From Tokyo to Havana and across Europe and Canada, millions of workers took to the streets today in May Day rallies and marches. Some highlights include (in no particular order):
  • Australia: Thousands flocked to May Day rallies across Sunday to protest the Howard government's planned industrial relations reforms.

  • Venezuela: A major trade union initiative in solidarity with Venezuela has been launched by the Hands Off Venezuela campaign. Coinciding with the celebration of International Workers' day, Hands Off Venezuela is promoting an "Open letter to US trade unionists."

  • Japan: Over 200,000 workers rally for a global ban on nuclear weapons, in memory of the US nuclear attacks on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

  • Bangladesh: 5,000 workers rally for a minimum wage.

  • Cuba: 1,000,000 Cubans gathered in the Plaza of the Revolution to hear Fidel Castro.

  • Germany: Over 500,000 workers took part in marches and rallies across the country, many focusing on a recent political debate accusing company executives of increasing earnings while squeezing workers' wages and slashing jobs.

  • Russia: Protestors calling for sweeping social reforms mixed with anti-government demonstrators in Moscow. Thousands of Communists rallied under pictures of Lenin and Stalin with traditional red-and-white, hammer-and-sickle banners bearing slogans like "Rise, Save Russia!" and marched down Tverskaya Street, one of Moscow's main boulevards. Radical activists from the National Bolshevik Party and the Red Youth Avant-Garde political group fought briefly with riot police.

  • France: demonstrators used May Day to voice opinions on the country's upcoming referendum on the European Union constitution.

  • China: China singled out more than 2,900 labourers -- and a few athletes -- for recognition on May Day, dubbing them "model workers," as people across the country started a week-long holiday with visits to squares and parks for kite flying and other recreation.

  • Vietnam: Nationwide celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the victory of the Vietnamese people against US imperialism (and I would argue the victory of international solidarity).

  • Spain: 25,000 workers rally in Madrid, with 50 rallies organized across Spain. Politicians from the governing Socialist party and the United Left coalition joined the people during the marches .

Absent are significant mass demonstrations in the United States. Ironically, the birth of May Day was a result of the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago and spearheaded by the IWW and other militant unions. Read more here and here. A rally in Chicago called "Take Back the Original Labor Day" attracted hundreds of workers (see the story here). Every other country -- from Pakistan to Paraguay -- had rallies, which were widely reported, including our very close neighbors, Canada and Mexico.

As it turns out, in the US during the 1930s reactionaries pushed a bill through Congress labeling May Day to be Loyalty Day in order to counter labor celebrations. This slap in the face has been reinstated by George Bush as of 2004.

Another mythology promoted in the US is the May Day pagan celebration of nature, centering on the May pole dance. The true colors of the United States are shown when the ruling elite chooses to promote paganism versus worker solidarity!

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