Photo: CISPES.org. Hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of San Salvador on May 1 to celebrate May Day and the victories of the working class. Marchers raised demands for justice, equality and self-determination, CISPES.org said on May 4.
Malaysian police have arrested Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general S. Arutchelvan, formal President of Malaysian Bar Council Ambiga Sreenevasan and member of parliament for Seremban Anthony Loke at a May Day demonstration on May 1. The arrests are part of the recent wave of crackdown on anti-GST (anti-poor goods and services tax) and aim to further curtail dissent in the country. Another 29 young people were arrested soon after the May Day rally. More people have been call to report themselves to the police otherwise will be subjected to arrest.
People around the world took to the streets on May 1 to mark May Day, the international workers' day. The day started in the United States in the late 1800s, when unions first called for an eight hour work day, but countries throughout the world soon followed suit in demands for better working conditions.
Thousands of Venezuelans took part in May Day rallies on May 1 to mark the international workers' day and commemorate the achievements of the country's pro-poor Bolivarian revolution. Speaking to May Day celebrations in Caracas, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said: “Now is time for workers to lead the economic policy of the country.”
The biggest Labour Day march in Australia took place in Brisbane on May 5, as thousands of unionists marched through the city in celebration. More than 30,000 took to the streets across the state over the past weekend, expressing their anger towards the Campbell Newman government. Workers from a wide range of trade unions proudly participated, with large contingents from the Builders’ Labourers Federation and the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union.
A range of socialist and activist groups will be marching together in joint contingents in this year’s May Day rallies across Australia behind banners saying, “It's time for a fightback”. Initiated by the Socialist Alliance, the contingents have been supported by a range of groups, including Resistance, Socialist Alternative, Latin American Social Forum, Solidarity, the Indigenous Social Justice Association, Committee in Solidarity with Cuba, and Sydney University Education Action Group.
Queensland ALP deputy premier Paul Lucas and other ALP leaders faced hostile chants and heckling from workers at the annual Labour Day march in Brisbane on May 3. The main message from the union contingents, numbering 10,000, was opposition to the sale of state assets — including railways, ports, forests and motorways — by the Bligh Labor government. Premier Anna Bligh herself was overseas to promote the sell-off to North American investors.
Tens of thousands of people joined counter-protests against far-right marches across Germany on May 1. Sozialistische Alternative website said in Berlin, 15,000 people blockaded the Prenzlauer Berg district, restricting a march by 400 neo-Nazis to just 350 metres of their intended six-kilometre march route.
JB Hi-Fi staff at the company’s Wellington store have engaged in a series of strikes and protests as part of a campaign by the Unite union to win higher wages for retail workers. The strikes are the first at one of the company's stores in either Australia or New Zealand in over 27 years of the company's history. The Unite Union has been negotiating with JB Hi-Fi management for over six months for a collective agreement but the Australian bosses are refusing to raise wages for staff this year.
We have just finished a very successful May Day brigade to Venezuela, organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN). The majority of the 14 participants were from Australia, with two Canadians and one from the US also taking part. May Day was, of course, a highlight of the 10-day tour: more than 1 million marchers, all in red t-shirts. Brigadistas were greeted with cheers of welcome — we were easily identified by our Australian solidarity activists shirts and banner.
Venezuelans staged a big demonstration in Caracas on May one to mark the international workers’ day, Venezuelanalysis.com said. President Hugo Chavez also announced a 15% wage increase and broader social security entitlements. “While there were no official or police estimates, various participants in the march told Venezuelanalysis they estimated that ‘hundreds of thousands’ of people turned out, celebrating the achievements of the Bolivarian revolution and its promotion of ... better life conditions for the poor majority.”
In Turkey’s capital of Istanbul, more than 200,000 people gathered at Taksim Square on May 1 in the first May Day demonstration allowed in the square in 33 years. May Day marches had been banned there since 37 people were murdered a 1977 May Day demonstration there. The government had violently repressed past attempts to celebrate May Day in Taksim Square. Marches carried banners reading: “Secure job and a humane life” and “Jobs, Bread, Freedom”.
“In a stunning demonstration all over the island”, Prensa Latina said on May 1, “Cubans showed the power of unity to face the media campaign launched against the country by United States and its European allies. “Millions of men, women and even children packed in the main squares, marched along central avenues all over the provinces and municipalities of the nation declaring their support to the revolutionary process they have freely chosen.”
On May 1, international workers’ day, 500 people marched in Wollongong. Trish Corcoran from the Socialist Alliance spoke about the racist Northern Territory intervention on Aboriginal communities, and the solidarity the union movement is showing with the people fighting it. Chris Cumming, from the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union, reported on the nasty dispute between the Tahmoor mineworkers and their employer, coal multinational Xstrata. Nearly $450 was raised at the rally for the miners.
On May 1 in Kathmandu, between 500,000-1 million people took over the streets in a dramatic show of force by Nepal’s Maoists to demand a return to civilian rule and a democratic process of creating a new, pro-people constitution. With the government refusing popular demands for its resignation, an indefinite general strike has been called from May 2 in what the Maoists are calling a “final push” to resolve the struggle for power between the poor majority and Nepal’s elite.
The following statement for May Day 2010 has been endorsed by socialist, trade union and progressive organisations in the Asia-Pacific region, including groups in Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan and the Philippines. Full list of endorsements. * * * All over the world workers are organising…