AS we approach May Day this year, the struggle of workers both within Britain and internationally is clearly intensifying.
With threats to world peace growing, along with the increasing dominance of the economic system with massive multinational companies at its heart, workers are having to fight harder to maintain what has been won in the past. The need for international solidarity between workers is crucial.
The big London May Day this year is seeking to highlight some of the key fights going on by trade unions like the RMT Southern rail dispute, the Unite BA Mixed Fleet dispute, the small but crucially important PCS and Unite battle at the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and the Bectu Picture House fight.
With all the big campaigns over the NHS, the need for proper housing, against the attacks on the disabled, attacks on the environment, opposing military adventurism and the many union campaigns to preserve jobs and social services, it is vital that all these different fronts in resisting the current economic system are brought together, something given greater focus with a general election looming. May Day seeks to give that focus to all the myriad battles going on across the country and the world.
John McDonnell, who will be speaking at London May Day — as did Jeremy Corbyn last year — is very much one of the event’s long-time supporters, along with the late Tony Benn.
We are also pleased to welcome back PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka. The key area of education will be covered by NUT vice-president Kiri Tunks.
In London migrant workers in particular face constant battles, especially in the hospitality sector — hotels, restaurants, catering, cleaning etc.
Many employers seek to exploit migrant workers and bilk them out of basic rights and conditions. Union organising has been the most effective way to fight this exploitation but is a challenging area to deal with.
Local trade union councils are taking part in many key struggles around local hospitals, education, postal services and against racism.
London May Day has always been a clear and visible expression of solidarity and unity across communities and workers from all backgrounds.
The massive support from many different migrant workers’ groups and from different communities has been a vital part of London May Day.
The Turkish and Kurdish organisations show their solidarity every year and we have to show solidarity with them today as in Turkey and Kurdistan they face massive attacks.
We have input from people in so many different struggles, including Tamils, Kashmiris, Pakistanis, Indians, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis. There are many others too from Africa, South America and Europe who show the importance of internationalism and the fight against racism which tries to divide workers.
It is very welcome to see the spread of May Day-related events across Britain year by year in which trade union councils and local unions are playing a leading part.
It is important to ensure the traditions of May Day are maintained with the central core of workers across the world standing in solidarity, supporting each other in the fight against the capitalist economic system.
For us to really show such solidarity the importance of fighting the anti-union laws is key, to allow the strong to help the weak in battles against bad employers.
With talk of new public holidays we have to remind all of the long-held call in Britain for May 1 to be a public holiday, as it is in many countries across Europe and the world.
Over the last decade we have seen the rich getting richer and working-class gains, achieved over decades of hard struggle, being attacked.
We need to celebrate what workers have achieved here and across the world and get the message across that it is only by joint working-class action that we can protect and expand what is in our interests.
That is how we got the NHS, education for all, better housing, proper jobs for young people, decent pensions, social care — all now under serious attack.
May Day in London has always given a focus each year on key working-class battles, going back to Skychefs workers, Ford and Vauxhall workers, Remploy workers, the miners’ and printworkers’ battles of the ’80s and the PCS National Gallery dispute, but also in 2014 we marked the deaths of two major figures in the struggle — Tony Benn and Bob Crow.
There has also been increasing involvement from the unions in the area of culture and the arts. It is always important to keep those working-class battles to the forefront, each year showing how the struggle continues.
We look forward to welcoming you to Clerkenwell Green where marchers will assemble on Monday May 1.
Source: Morning Star / RedGlobe