Monday, 2 May 2011

New vibrancy on May Day around the world

May Day events took on a new significance yesterday as trade unionists around the world took to the streets in defence of working people and the right to organise.

“It’s safe to say that for the last five or six years it (May Day) was about celebrating the past, but this year all of us are fighting for our lives and our movement, and it’s brought a great vibrancy to it”, UNISON’s Jennifer McCarey told The Herald before the Glasgow Rally

A sentiment backed up by Glasgow Friends of May Day chair Chris Bartter. “The trades union movement now faces a very hostile government in Westminster, and we have clear attacks on people’s services and the economies that working people rely on. That’s why it’s rejuvenated.”

In London, 10,000 gathered in Trafalgar Square to demonstrate against coalition policies. The TUC’s Sarah Veale said cuts in public spending would have a devastating effect on public services. "It's given new meaning to the phrase 'women and children first', because that's where the cuts are going to bite," she said.

"In the labor movement we have a saying, `Don't Mourn — Organise!'" Ben Speight, organiser director of the Teamsters Local 728 in Atlanta told AP in an excellent round-up story with stories on the NPR website covering rallies from Wisconsin to Berlin, Manhatten to Havana, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Phillipines and more.

As events were held in several cities in Australia, Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) secretary Ron Monaghan said, "What we are celebrating is the achievements of the union movement over the last 150 years and we look froward to what we will achieve into the future,"

The Madrid branches of the CCOO and UGT trade unions organised the May Day march in the capital while the national march was held in Valencia. The theme was “Employment with Rights, Against Social Cuts.”

In Cuba, hundreds of thousands turned out to pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs victory over the US-led invasion, the declaration of the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution and the epic illiteracy campaign.  

At the other end of the scale, St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union and the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party were due to pay tribute to past stalwarts of the Labour Movement today, Labour Day, a holiday, prior to the start of the traditional march through the streets of Basseterre. St. Kitts and Nevis has a population of around 40,000.

See also rallies in Newcastle and Aberdeen on Saturday

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