May Day 2010 was marked by demonstrations and rallies of tens of thousands of workers in countries all over the world. Workers protested against the attacks by the capitalists on their jobs, wages and working conditions. They denounced their governments for defending the interests of the capitalists and vowed to intensify the struggle in defence of the rights of the working people. They raised their voice against imperialist war and for solidarity of the working people of all countries.
May Day rallies across Europe saw hundreds of thousands of people protesting against government austerity policies in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Some of the largest and most militant demonstrations were organized in Greece, where the government has pledged budget cuts and severe austerity measures to secure a European union and IMF bail-out package. Shops and establishments were closed all over the capital, Athens as protestors marched towards the Parliament and the Finance Ministry where EU and IMF officials were meeting to agree to a set of austerity measures that seek to severely attack the rights of the working people. “No to the IMF’s junta!”, “Hands off our rights! IMF and EU Commission out!” protestors chanted as they marched. Police fired several rounds of tear gas to quell the protestors, who have declared their determination to continue and step up the protests in the wake of adoption of the new austerity measures.
In Germany, a key contributor to the Greek rescue package, hundreds of May Day demonstrators clashed with the police in Berlin, where neo-Nazis had been mobilised to attack the workers’ rallies. Militant demonstrations and clashes with the police have also been reported from Hamburg.
In France, an estimated 300,000 people took part in May Day demonstrations in various cities. At the forefront of the protesters’ concerns were President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plans to reform the country’s costly pension system as well as general fears over job security due to the financial crisis. Marchers in Paris shouted slogans such as “You had to experience the crisis in 2009, are you now going to have to pay for it in 2010?”
Several political parties joined the march. Immigrant workers held the flags of their home countries and raised banners declaring, “Global Workers United.”
French media reported similar demonstrations across France, from the northern city of Lille to the southern port city of Marseilles.
In Spain, labor unions organized a series of street protests all over the country, venting anger over issues such as unemployment, pensions, social reform and the financial system. The protests were staged under the title of “For employment, for rights and the guarantee of our pensions.” Union leaders demanded reform of the financial system to avoid fiscal fraud and asked for a tax on financial transactions, saying the financial markets should put themselves at the service of Spanish society. They also opposed the EU governments’ proposals for cutbacks in public spending.
In Italy, trade unions held a rally in the southern town of Rosarno, which has been the scene of recent state organized racist attacks on African immigrant workers. Addressing thousands of people waving red flags and banners, workers’ leaders demanded that the government invest in creating more jobs and protect the rights of immigrants who are always victims of super exploitation.
Thousands participated in May Day marches in Stockholm. Demonstrators accused the government for failing to stem rising unemployment and eroding the nation’s cherished welfare system.
In Finland, thousands of people took part in marches and rallies organized by workers’ parties and workers’ unions in Helsinki. They set out from the central railway station and passed through the city’s main roads, holding red flags, banners written with their demands and figures of Karl Marx. They loudly sang the Internationale and ended the march in Hakaniemi Square, where they joined people from different communities for a grand celebration.
In Switzerland, police used water cannons in Zurich, in an attempt to disperse May Day demonstrators protesting against “excessive” bonuses to the rich Swiss bankers.
May Day in Russia this year saw thousands of working people marching through the streets of Moscow holding portraits of Josef Stalin. The demonstrators denounced Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for attacking the rights of the working people and attempting to crush democratic dissent, as well as for the capitalist economic policies that have led to stagnation and crisis of the Russian economy. “Russia without Putin!” was the main slogan raised by the demonstrators.
About 7,000 supporters of the Communist Party started their parade from Kaluga Square, with slogans reading, “Russian workers, united!” and “Fight for education, jobs and pay.”
According to Russia’s Confederation of Independent Trade Unions, a total of 2.5 million people participated in the May Day rallies in nearly 1000 cites and residential areas throughout Russia.
In Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, more than 5000 people gathered to protest against high unemployment and attempts by the government to shift the burden of the economic crisis on to the backs of the workers.
More than 300,000 workers gathered for a May Day rally in Istanbul’s Taksim square. The rally was organized by different political parties and labor unions, including Turkish Revolutionary Workers Union Confederation, Public Workers Union Confederation, Revolutionary People’s Party Workers Movement Party and Education Workers Union.
These demonstrations in Istanbul marked a special victory for the Turkish workers’ unions, which had been denied access to the Taksim Square since 1977, when 34 people died after firing on demonstrating workers triggered a stampede. The workers claim that the guilty have not yet been identified and on May 1, 2010 they demanded once again that the guilty should be punished.
In the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, several hundred workers protested a proposed 4 percent goods and services tax.
About 1,000 protesters, including janitors, construction workers and bus drivers, demanded that the government in Hong Kong introduce a minimum wage of 33 Hong Kong dollars ($4.30).
This capitalist Chinese enclave is one of the world’s wealthiest cities, but according to the working people there, its wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few.
In Seoul, South Korea, thousands marched for better working conditions and permanent jobs. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions vowed to fight against long working hours and high death rate related to industrial accidents.
Hundreds of thousands of Cubans took part in the main May Day rally in Havana. Addressing the rally, the general secretary of the Central Organization of Cuban Workers, and member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba declared solidarity with workers all over the world in their heroic struggle against exploitation.
He reiterated the Cuban people’s demand for an end to the unjust and inhuman economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on the people of Cuba for close to 50 years and the demand for the release of five Cubans illegally detained in US jails. Workers’ representatives from 21 countries participated in Cuba’s May Day celebrations.
In Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta thousands of workers marched on the presidential palace, shouting: “Workers unite! No more layoffs!” Workers denounced the free trade agreement with China which they claimed had cost jobs, decreased wages and encouraged corruption.
32,000 workers participated in the Central May Day Rally at Yoyogi Park, Tokyo Workers’ leaders denounced the newly established two-party system as bankrupt. They declared that over the last ten years, wages in Japan have declined 10% even as the profits of big corporations have doubled. The average manufacturing worker saw one month’s pay disappear from his annual earning last year. Meanwhile, none of the Democratic Party’s electoral promises -- the removal of the Futenma base, health care reform to relieve the hardship of the elderly, labor law reform to diminish the exploitation of contract workers hired thorough employment agencies, and so on -- has been kept.
In Palestine, hundreds of unemployed workers in the Gaza Strip rallied near the Erez crossing point between the northern tip of the coastal enclave and Israel. They waved Palestinian flags and raised banners calling on Israel to end the blockade, and the Palestinian rival factions to end their feuds and reunite.
According to media reports, around 150,000 workers in the Gaza Strip have been unemployed since Israel imposed a tight blockade on the enclave in June 2007. The Israeli blockade has hit all aspects of life in the impoverished area.
The participants in the rally also called on the Hamas government to annul its latest decision to collect extra taxes on cigarettes, fuels and other products.
In Nepal, May Day this year was marked with several rallies all over the country. Different political parties, their affiliated organizations, trade unions, labor unions from hotel and factories celebrated the May Day as a landmark for the establishment of their rights.
On May Day 2010 workers and trade unions in Wellington marched demanding a $15 per hour minimum wage and in solidarity with striking JB Hi-Fi workers. They marched under the banner of ‘Campaign for a Living Wage’. The demonstrators pointed out that currently 450,000 New Zealanders live on less than $15 an hour and more than 100,000 live on minimum wage. 30% of New Zealanders on the lowest incomes in 2004 are worse off in real dollars than they were 20 years ago while the wealthiest 10% of the population are 21% better off than they were 20 years ago.
Thousands of workers took part in the May Day march at the Red Flag Monument in Belfast, amidst brass bands and militant slogans. Workers’ leaders call for a concerted action by all the trade unions to resist the all-out assault on the public services, on workers jobs and living conditions, as the government plans to “unleash a £50 billion slash”. Transport union RMT organized May Day rallies all across the country.
May First, International Workers’ Day, in Britain was celebrated on the Isle of Wight this year. Workers, retirees, youth and the community attended a major function in Newport. The trades unions and trades councils of Ryde and Newport sponsored the event. Other democratic organisations such as the Isle of Wight Palestine Friendship lent their support. Vestas workers also came out in support of this memorable and historic event.
This year’s May Day took place in the context of a General Election. It focused on the current onslaught on public sector workers and public service programs by all levels of government. Workers demanded that more be put into the country’s economy than is taken out, that the rights of monopolies be curtailed and public right is upheld, an integrated public transport system is developed, that citizens are looked after in their old age with a decent standard of living and government funded health care is guaranteed for all senior citizens. They opposed the government’s plans to slash jobs and other privatization schemes, demanded an end to unemployment and low pay, better working conditions and the social well-being and rights of all citizens, without any kind of exclusion. They raised their voice against all forms of racism. The May Day program celebrated the democratic aspirations of the working class by calling for a Europe without capitalist monopolies, withdrawal from the capitalist EU and a renewal of the political system.
The May Day slogans were also dedicated to international solidarity with all those fighting against foreign intervention, war and violence, plunder and exploitation. They opposed the recruitment for war in Afghanistan and other wars, demanded an end to the occupation of other countries including Palestine and Iraq, an end to the blockade of Cuba, aggression against DPRK and interference in Venezuela.
Thousands of workers and union leaders marched on Wall Street on April 29 to express their anger over lost jobs, the taxpayer-funded bailout of financial institutions and questionable lending practices by big banks.
The rally was organized by the AFL-CIO and an association of community groups. It included a diverse mixture of union workers, activists, the unemployed, and homeowners threatened by foreclosure. The protesters, carrying signs saying “Wall Street Overdrafted Our Economy” and “Reclaim America,” rallied at City Hall Park, then marched down to the Merrill Lynch Bull statue demanding good jobs and accountability from banks.
On April 30, 800 people from 30 nations attended an International Conference for a Nuclear-free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World. On May 2 nearly 10,000 people gathered at a rally in Times Square and marched to the UN, raising slogans: “No Nukes, No Wars, Fund Human Needs, Protect the Planet!” The rally included about 100 survivors of the atomic bombings in Japan, residents of the Kittay House Senior Home in Bronx, NY, 2000 Japanese and over a 1000 European workers from Delaware, Michigan, Vermont, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and other parts of USA.
May Day 2010 was celebrated as a day of immigrant workers rights. In New York the organization United for Peace & Justice (UFPJ) organized rallies demanding an end to anti immigrant legislation and criminalization of immigrant communities, immigrant detention and deportation, ‘guest worker’ programs, militarization of the border, etc. They demanded legalization without conditions for immigrants without documents, humane immigration laws, labour rights and living wages for all workers. May Day rallies in support of immigrant rights were also held in Phoenix, Arizona, in Dallas, Texas and other places.
Militant actions were reported all across Canada on May 1, 2010.
Hundreds of workers gathered at Halifax to oppose the attacks on public sector workers and public services. They denounced imperialist war and called for international solidarity of workers.
In Montreal, more than 25,000 people, representing diverse organisations such as Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (CSD), the Coalition Against Fees and Privatization of Public Services, the Quebec Women’s Federation, and the Federation of Health Professionals of Quebec, marched through the financial district of the city, denouncing the anti social offensive of the government and expressing their determination to continue the fight against it.
Demonstrations and rallies were held in Toronto to mark May Day, organized by No One Is Illegal and the May 1st Movement. The actions highlighted the issues facing the most vulnerable sectors of the working class, including undocumented, migrant and immigrant workers, as well as the working poor. Demands were made for good jobs, decent housing and quality social services. The demonstrations were marked by a strong anti-war message.
The May Day rally in Vancouver denounced the theft of social wealth and public resources, such as the “Clean Energy Act” which will transfer hydro-electric production to the private sector, and various other aspects of the impact of the continuing anti-social offensive on social services such as education and on the most vulnerable sections of the society.
May Day demonstrations were also held at Edmonton, Calgary, Windsor, Hamilton, Longueuil, Gatineau and other parts of Canada.
These actions on May Day point to the growing consciousness among the working people all over the world that their rights and interests cannot be safeguarded without uncompromising struggle against capitalism, which defends only the interests of the biggest monopolies by intensifying the exploitation of the workers. They reflect the growing opposition to imperialist war, racism and all forms of discrimination. They signify the unity and solidarity of the workers of all countries, in their struggle to put an end to capitalism and imperialism and usher in socialism, where the working class and people will rule and organize society for the well being of all the working people.