|Volume 46 Number 13, May 14, 2016||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
May Day in London
As TML Weekly, the online newspaper of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), put it: "May Day, the Day of International Working Class Unity and Struggle, was celebrated this year with militant mass actions around the world. These actions are more important than ever, showing the worldwide unity of the working class to block neo-liberalism, nation-wrecking and the imperialist military aggression and warmongering that threatens the peoples of the world. In war-torn countries, the oppressed peoples are affirming their right to be. Internationally, the workers are fighting for justice and for the recognition of the rightful place oflabour. In countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia where the mechanisms of people's empowerment exist or are being brought into being and defended, May Day activities were joyful celebrations of that political empowerment and nation-building and the aspirations of the people to stand with the other countries of the world based on mutual respect, solidarity and peace. Everywhere, May Day 2016 showed the determination of the working class to change the situation in humanity's favour."
May Day in London made a massive impact with over 14,000 joining the event in the sun. The event began on the steps of the Marx Memorial Library, with Her Excellency Teresita Vincente, Cuban Ambassador to the UK, presenting a portrait of Fidel Castro to the Library and giving a short address. The Ambassador welcomed the forging of links between the Library and the University of Havana and asked people to continue to support her country against the ongoing US Blockade and for the return of Guantanamo Bay to Cuba.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady addressed the militant gathering in Clerkenwell Green before it moved off to Trafalgar Square. It was the first time in 50 years that the leader of the Labour Party has addressed the May First demonstration, representing the fact that the workers' movement to oppose the anti-social offensive, defeat the austerity agenda, and fight for a new direction for the economy and society, is gaining momentum.
Jeremy Corbyn said:
"This is a government more interested in tax cuts than anything else. Why have they taken £4m out of the care budget? Why did they try to take £3bn out of the personal independence payments budget for those with disabilities. They are a government that is more interested in tax relief for corporations, and tax relief at the top end of the scale."
"Two things are going to come in 2020: the repeal of the Trade Union Lobbying and Transparency Bill, which has nothing to do with transparency, and everything to do with stopping NGOs and trade unions from speaking up for ordinary people. The second is on trade union legislation itself. We will be establishing a commission called Workplace 2020, which will be looking at the need to change and improve trade union and workers' rights, including self-employed workers, to end the scandal of zero hours contracts and a lower wage for younger workers."
He said the initiative would aim to:
- end the scandal of zero hours contracts
- end the scandal of insecurity
- end the scandal of a lower wage for younger workers when their needs and demands are just as great as any older worker - to end their discrimination:
"And to say to those fast food chains and others that think you can evade the idea that trade unions have a right to organise. We want there to be a positive right to join and be represented by a trade union in every workplace in our country."
Speaking in support of the Junior Doctors, he said: "They've been on the march to defend our National Health Service... and it is beyond disgraceful that the secretary of state for health is more interested in privatising 49% of all NHS services than coming to a negotiated agreement with the junior doctors to ensure that they can continue providing the fantastic care and support that they and all others who work in the NHS provide."
He said: "We're here today to defend the National Health Service free at the point of service as a human right for all."
"We have to stand up against racism in any form whatsoever in our society. We have stood in this green in Trafalgar Square and in many other places against apartheid South Africa. Eventually apartheid South Africa was defeated.
"We stood in solidarity with [...] the USA fighting for civil rights in the 1960s and 1970s. We stand in solidarity now against the growth of the far right in Europe across that are more interested in blaming migrant workers, blaming victims of war who are refugees than facing up to the reality we are all human beings living on one planet and you solve problems by human rights, humanity, respect and justice - and not by blaming minorities.
"And so we stand absolutely against anti-Semitism in any form. We stand absolutely against racism in any form. We stand united as a Labour movement recognising our faith diversity and ethnic diversity and from that diversity comes our strength. That is the strength of our movement."
The speeches of Jeremy Corbyn and Frances O'Grady at Clerkenwell Green, as well as all the speeches at Trafalgar Square, can be heard at the London May Day website: http://www.londonmayday.org/
John McDonnell, shadow Chancellor, spoke at the Glasgow Trades Council May Day Rally in the Old Fruitmarket, Candleriggs, Glasgow. Full speech here: https://youtu.be/08pJNOeaXps?t=1m3s
Contingents of RCPB(ML) participated in May Day marches and meetings in Newcastle, London and other events across the country. Many hundreds of the Party's Call in Workers' Weekly were distributed, along with sales of its monthly publication The Line of March, which also contained the Call as its lead article. The Call can be read [here]
May Day, London