||Issue No. 134||03 May 2002|
The Hijacking of May Day
Interview: Youth Group
History: Back To The Future
Industrial: On the Street
Unions: The New Deal
Legal: The Police State Road
Women: What Women Want
Politics: Street Party
International: The Costs of War
Review: Songs of Solidarity
Satire: Bono Satisfies World Hunger for Preachy Rockstars
The Locker Room
Week in Review
M1 Open Letter
May Day Debacle
Mothers Day Musings
Greetings From Canada
Around 400 "M1" protesters gathered outside the Sydney offices of Australasian Correctional Management, who own and operate the refugee detention centres, on May Day this year. Numbers were significantly down on the 5000 people who blockaded the Sydney Stock Exchange as part of last year's M1.
The blockade of the offices began as a peaceful demonstration, but turned nasty after several protesters allegedly threw hundreds of marbles under police horses, which caused several police officers to be injured. The melee continued with one protester throwing a firecracker under the horses and more protesters throwing horse manure at police.
The protesters who gathered outside the ACM office at around 7.30 am also disrupted many workers in the surrounding areas who had to get to work as early as 5.30 am to enter their workplaces. Several unions received reports of their members unable to attend work, as they were unable to make alternative arrangements for childcare or transport.
However, on a lighter and more positive side the traditional May Day toast took a new format this year as a "Toast & Jam", with the announcement of the Wobbly Radio "Union Song" competition winners. Over 500 unionists crowded South Sydney Leagues Club to partake in the toast and to listen to sets from the competition finalists and winners hip hop act "Swarmy G." with their song "MAY DAY/MAY DAY"
The scene was much more peaceful in Melbourne with 8,000 unionists joining with the M1 Collective in a "Unity" Rally outside of the Building Industry Royal Commission in Collins Street.
Victorian Trades Hall Secretary Leigh Hubbard told the crowd that he wanted to see May Day established as a public holiday.
An amusing and confusing May Day took place in the Top End. Only about 20 protesters "blockaded" Coonawarra Naval Base in downtown Darwin which is used as a temporary processing center for refugees. Whilst the 20 demonstrators didn't make a huge impact in the news they managed to cause two car accidents and one near miss after trying to attract attention to their action on a busy intersection.
To make things more bizarre Country Liberal Party Federal Senator Nigel Scullion attended the rally and proceeded to lecture the protesters about "hijacking" May Day. The Conservative Senator went on to say "May the First is all about celebrating the work that the trade unions have done historically to ensure we've got the 35 hour week, we've got good working conditions, we've got rights for women in the workplace. That's what May the First's about." - Is he aware of what party he represents?
More than one million people demonstrated nationwide in France against far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, four days before a presidential election run-off that pits Le Pen against incumbent conservative Jacques Chirac.
The incredible show of unity and opposition to politics of division and racism dwarfed the counter-rally of around 15,000 people in Paris in support of Le Pen's National Front. Many commentators predicted violence between the demonstrators however this was not to eventuate.
The Government controlled All China Federation of Trade Unions awarded four entrepreneurs for being "model workers". Traditionally on May Day the Communist party controlled unions have honored humble blue-collar workers who have been nominated by the trade union bureaucracy.
Over 5,000 police were in action across London anxious not to have a repeat of last year's violence mainly cause by small anarchist groups. Over 6,000 unionists attended the Trade Union Congress rally in Trafalgar Square which is an amazing increase in numbers from last year's TUC rally which only attracted 500 people who were mainly union officials.
Meanwhile across Greater London thousands of anti-corporate activists engaged in a range of activities highlighting the various campaigns which brought them together.
With discussion across the globe about the role of May Day in the new millennium veteran British socialist and former Labour MP Tony Benn argued that the new alliances between unionists and anti-corporate activists is a positive "May Day is a very ancient festival and today it has become linked with people who object to the brutality of global capital. It really comes down to whether you want to run the world yourself or have it run by Bush, Blair and the Pentagon."
Over 1,000,000 Cubans filled Revolution Square in Havana to celebrate May Day, a Cuban Public Holiday. Elian Gonzalez joined Cuban leader Fidel Castro on the main stage where Castro delivered his customary speech condemning the US Blockade on Cuba which has been in place since 1963.
Amid the now regular May Day riots between German far-right nationalists and ultra-left anarchists one of Germany's largest unions IG Metall has called a strike for 50,000 of their members in the manufacturing sector on 6 May. The call for a strike was overwhelmingly backed by a secret ballot of union members.
Tens of thousands of workers rallied in downtown Seoul demanding the establishment of a five day working week. Despite the presence over 15,000 riot police the demonstrations in the main were peaceful.
10,000 unionists rallied in Jakarta despite the sweltering heat wave that has hit Jakarta over the last week. The workers represented over 50 independent unions that have emerged in Jakarta in the last few years following the fall of the Soeharto regime.
Indonesian union leader Dita Sari told the rallying workers "Our interests are the same: social welfare. This day is about workers, tycoons, factory owners, the Indonesian government and the international community." Sari was imprisoned for several years under Soeharto for organising workers.
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