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May Day, 2009: `Advance the socialist alternative!', `Together we shall restore humanity'

May Day 2009 in Karachi, Pakistan. Photo by Farooq Tariq.

May 1, 2009 -- Below are a number of messages to mark International Workers' Day -- May Day -- from revolutionary organisations around the world. Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal will post others as they become available. Please check back.

* * *

Socialist Party of Malaysia: Together we shall restore humanity

May 1, 2009, Dataran Seremban, Negri Sembilan -- Socialist Party of Malaysia -- The police warned and stopped us against doing the one procession we planned for this year’s May Day so we ended up doing three. Workers came from three fronts to the Dataran Seremban, the venue for this year’s May Day celebration. It was the first time that the May Day celebration was done in Negeri Sembilan since the 1st Mei Committee (May 1st Committee) started organising May Day in 1994.

Around 500 people gathered in blazing hot weather today to honour the 123-year-old workers' uprising in industrial countries such as Europe and United States. Many workers and young comrades of all races and political beliefs were brought together. The by 1st Mei Committee comprised of JERIT (Oppressed People’s Network), PSM (Party Socialist Malaysia) and local organisers from all parties to tell the world, as well as our own Malaysian government, that it is the workers who need to be saved and not their cronies. The theme of this year’s May Day was ECONOMY CRISIS: SAVE THE WORKERS, NOT THE CRONIES. Similar voices were heard all over the world as the class struggle intensifies between the classes -- the capitalist and the workers.

At around 10am, workers and young people from Perak, Selangor, Johor, Negri Sembilan, Kedah and other places arrived in buses. The police had a watchful eye as they have given the organisers a permit with the condition that no rallies were allowed. The groups came from from three directions to the venue in a festive mood with banners, placards, headbands and with many slogans e.g. “Implement Minimum Wage Now'', ``We Want Retrenchment Fund'', ``Jobs for All”, as well as art works and theatre showing exploitation, low wages and the humiliation workers suffer under the capitalist system. The extreme hot sun did not deter the spirit of the celebration. PSM leaders comrade Nasir Hashim, Saraswathy, Arutchelvan, Sivarajan and many others were present to give solidarity.

May 1 is the only day that truly recognises the endless contribution of the workers and the organisers have maintained this culture of giving full tribute to workers by giving them the space to voice their views. At least once a year, we hear the workers talking while the politicians listen. Today we heard marginalised communities giving speeches -- Comrade Munusamy of the plantation workers' committee, Comrade Mahendran of the factory workers' committee, Comrade Teeja from the Orang Asal coalition, Comrade Cheng of the students' group, Shekiren of the urban settlers' committee and Lai Ah Lee, a farmer from Kanthan representing the farmers' group. They all took turns in highlighting their plight under the current ruling government that has failed to bring genuine development to these people. And these are the most affected group while the country is undergoing global economic crisis.

Slogans of ``Long live workers' struggle'' were heard many times in all three main languages -- Malay, Mandarin and Tamil.

The current crisis that has led workers to lose jobs, to pay being cut and big companies being bailed out by the government was illustrated by DEMA, a student group. Their performance was the climax and with that everyone stood up to read the May Day declaration, which was endorsed by 89 civil society groups and political parties. The declaration carries 18 demands that touch on workers' right to minimum wage, a retrenchment fund, job opportunities, land for agriculture, food rations for the poor, the right to form unions, equal rights for migrant workers and so on. The program came to an end at around 11.30am with the ``Internationale'' led by Comrade Chon Kai of the PSM.

Today is the day of all workers around the world collectively with one voice to oppose the capitalist system and a demand equal share and equal rights. Together we shall restore humanity!

Letchimi Devi,

For the Socialist Party of Malaysia.

Socialist Solidarity Greetings on May Day from the Partido Lakas ng Masa (Power of the Masses Party), Philippines

May 1, 2009 -- Around 10,000 workers and urban poor, members of the mass organisations Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP, Socialist Labor Centre) and Kongresso Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (KPML, urban poor) and members of the political party, Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), marched in
Manila on May Day under the banner of "Stop Retrenchments! Decent Work for All!" and "Capitalism is a Pestilence! Socialism for Change!"

Dear Comrades,

We greet this May Day with the working-class movement around the world facing the challenges of a capitalist system in deep crisis. The contradictions of the system emerge as wide-open cracks visible to the masses in their day-to-day struggle for survival. And working people and the poor are heroically struggling in their millions worldwide, against capitalism’s ``solutions'' and for system change -- from the movements for democracy in Thailand and Pakistan, to the workers' strike movement in France, to the movements for ``Socialism of the 21st Century'' in Latin America.

In the Philippines we face a situation where the political, social and economic system of elite rule is in deep crisis. The current regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is one of the most unpopular governments to ever exist, since the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. The political institutions in the country are discredited and exposed as being in the pockets of the Arroyo political clan, from the Congress to the Supreme Court to the Electoral Commission. Despite several attempts to oust the regime, including the development of a mass movement calling for her ouster and a military in mutiny led by junior officers, the regime has managed to cling onto power. A situation of stalemate now exists.

Meanwhile the global economic crisis has hit the country with force, with a collapse in exports, zero growth forecast for 2009 and a spiralling increase in retrenchments and unemployment. According to the International Labor Organisation in 2008 some 250,000 workers in plant and machine operation and assembly were retrenched. If workers in electronics and garment and textiles are included the total number could be well over 300,000 retrenched last year, mostly since October when the economic crisis hit. Meanwhile thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers are returning home as factories close overseas.

The Department of Labor and Employment figures contradict the independent research data, claiming that only some 40,000 workers were laid-off in 2008. This under-representation of the impact of the crisis on unemployment is typical of a long-list of lies peddled by the regime to cover up it’s incompetent rule and intensified exploitation of the people.

In the 2009 budget, the Philippines government would spend P7391.54 per person for debt servicing while allotting only P2050.98 per person for education, P301.52 for health, P57.48 for housing and P112.80 for social services. In a crisis situation, when large-scale economic stimulus to boost the national economy through public expenditures and wage increases is required, such a budget represents the continuation of the anti-people neoliberal economic policies that this government and the political establishment of this country is still wedded to.

In 2010 we face a national and presidential election. The Partido Lakas ng Masa aims to intervene in these elections at all levels: from the presidential, to the Senate, Congress and local councils. The main purpose of our intervention is to build a mass movement for system change and an end to elite rule. Today we are actively developing alliances between the left-led basic sectors of the working class (trade unions, rural workers and the urban poor), the middle class and the military rebels, to run an anti-establishment unity ticket, with candidates at all levels. In the Philippines we call this an anti-trapo ticket and campaign, trapo meaning traditional politician, which in Filipino also means a dirty rag.

As we develop our tactics and strategy we are well aware of the need to draw lessons from the advanced movements for system change and socialism in Latin America, especially Bolivia and the “Socialism for the Twenty First Century” movement in Venezuela. We acknowledge, with deep admiration and respect, that these developments in Latin America would not have been possible without the survival of the Cuban revolution -- a superb and heroic record of fifty years.

Today we live in special times. As we face the tremendous challenges ahead, at the same time we have a historic opportunity available to this generation, to advance towards a socialist alternative. This means that we can and must put forward the socialist alternative through concrete demands that the people can understand, while at the same time pointing to the need to struggle for system change. The challenge is to put forward socialism as a living theory and movement, one not mired in dogma and schemas. This approach will surely help us build the Socialism of the 21st Century.

Long live May Day! Mabuhay!

Long live international working-class unity and solidarity! Mabuhay!

Long live socialism!

Mabuhay sosyalismo!

Sonny Melencio, chairperson, Partido Lakas ng Masa.

May Day message from the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

On this May Day let us take a pledge:

  • to resolutely respond to the great capitalist crises with a radical alternative for a higher civilisation that alone could save our  humanity!
  • to dedicate wholeheartedly to rise the consciousness of the working class to their historical role of the protagonist of the people in breaking the capitalist shackles!
  • to reach the working people wherever they are to draw them to the rising tide of class struggle  against capital!
  • do everything  to overcome the division among labour and construct a web of solidarity of the working class across the world on a firm internationalist principle of class struggle through struggle against capital. For this purpose let us coordinate our activities first!

Red salute,

Revolutionary May Day greetings. 

Ever comradely yours,

P.V. Srinivas
International Department, CPI (ML) -Liberation. 

May Day greetings from the Democratic Socialist Perspective (Australia)

May 3, 2009 -- About 2000 attended the May Day march in Sydney, with at least 400 Tamils taking part. It was followed by a May Day toast at the DSP's Resistance Centre, attended and addressed by activists from the trade unions, and the Tamil, Guatemalan, El Salvadoran and Aboriginal communities.

Dear Comrades

May Day greetings from the Democratic Socialist Perspective, a Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance in Australia.

May Day this year takes place amidst the most severe economic crisis for capitalism since the 1930s. At the same time, the very survival of humanity is now threatened by catastrophic climate change that cannot be solved without fundamental social change. It has never been more clear that capitalism is not working.

While trillions of dollars are spent trying to rescue capitalism, a billion people struggle to live on less than US$2 a day. While the capitalists force wage cuts on workers and price cuts on poor farmers, the retail price of food around the world remains high and most of the world’s population has no food security at all. While more and more of the world’s people are forced to flee their homes due to the impacts of neo-liberalism, war and global warming, the rich world’s leaders whip up nationalism and racism to strengthen their fortresses against refugees.

Like all capitalist governments, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Labor Party government is trying to make working people pay for the economic crisis. Although this wealthy country has not yet felt the full brunt of the crisis, just in the last seven months 140,000 more Australians joined the ranks of the unemployed. Meanwhile, the Labor government’s new industrial relations laws maintain severe restrictions on workers’ and trade union rights, the privatisation of public utilities continues, and the May federal budget is expected to further reduce the public sector and welfare provision.

The Labor government is also continuing its attacks on Australia’s Indigenous people, maintaining the forced quarantining of welfare payments to Aboriginal people, the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act and the weakening of land rights laws to allow big mining companies’ unfettered access to Aboriginal land. The Socialist Alliance is planning a national day of protest action on June 20, the anniversary of the introduction of these racist laws.

Internationally, the Rudd government is consolidating Australia’s close partnership with United States imperialism. Following a recent meeting with Barak Obama, Rudd announced this week that the Australian government will send another 450 troops to Afghanistan. This is despite 65% public opposition to such a move.

The Australian government’s complicit silence on Israel’s brutal war on the Palestinian people and on the Sri Lankan military’s ongoing massacre of the Tamil people is generating increasing anger in Australia, and members of the DSP, Resistance and the Socialist Alliance leading the anti-war campaign in Australia are working hard to build a movement to force the withdrawal of all Australian troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and build solidarity in Australia with the peoples of Palestine and Tamil Eelam.

Australian imperialism’s role in the Asia Pacific region makes our solidarity with the people’s movements for national liberation and democracy and the revolutionary organisations in this region especially important. There have recently been significant gains in our region, in particular the election of a revolutionary government in Nepal, mass movement victories such as the forcing of the Pakistan government to reinstate the chief justice, and the election of socialists to state and federal parliament in Malaysia.

In Latin America, rising revolutionary socialist movements are posing a serious challenge to global capitalist rule and, in the process of struggle, are beginning to create alternative social systems.

This May Day, millions will take to the streets to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. The Cuban people’s courageous struggle for sovereignty and socialism, now strengthened by the Venezuelan and Bolivian revolutions, and the recent election victory of the FMLN in El Salvador, are inspiring anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggles around the world. DSP members proudly continue their work in solidarity with socialist Cuba and to build the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, which last week completed its 9th solidarity brigade to Venezuela. We look forward to continuing our coverage of the developments in Latin America in Green Left Weekly and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the re-establishment in mid-June of a permanent bureau in Caracas.

This is a moment in history when the need to move towards a society founded on collective ownership, participatory democracy, social justice and ecological sustainability has never been more urgent or necessary. In the words of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez: “If we do not change the world now, there may be no 22nd century”.

That message, and the development of alliances and practical activities to advance it, was centre-stage at the “World At A Crossroads: Fighting for Socialism in the 21st Century” conference hosted by the DSP and Resistance in Sydney on April 10-12 this year. The conference was very successful, bringing together 440 activists, including 25 movement and party leaders from 15 countries, and reaffirmed for us that in the people’s struggle to save humanity from destruction by capitalism, international solidarity will be essential.

We look forward to closer links and great collaboration between our organisations and peoples in the years ahead.

Workers of the world unite!

Long live May Day!

Long live socialist revolution!

Peter Boyle
DSP national secretary

 

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May Day 2009 in Kathmandu

Besancenot Marches with LKP in Guadeloupe

From MRZine

POINTE-A-PITRE, 1 May 2009 (AFP) -- The leader of the New Anti-Capitalist Party Olivier Besancenot marched on Friday in Guadeloupe, joining the procession organized by 13 trade unions of the LKP, which started the recent general strike in the island.  Besancenot characterized his presence as "hats off" to the movement.

Several thousands of people (30,000 according to the organizers) marched in Petit-Canal (in the north of Grande-Terre), the birthplace of Jacques Bino, a unionist killed by rioters during the general strike.

Olivier Besancenot marched in the contingent made up of militants of the independent trade union CTU (United Workers Center), whose ideas are close to his own.  Answering a question from an RCI journalist, he stated that his presence was meant to "say hats off to the mobilization here and give a wink to the mobilization in France, which would do well to take inspiration from what was acomplished here by assembling forces at the same time at the same place."

At the end of the march, which unfolded without incident, the demonstrators were able to visit a "May Day Village" located in a landscaped park in Petit-Canal, where unionists, artists, and food and beverage venders set up their booths.

The 13 trade unions that organized the march are members of Lyianaj kont pwofitasyon (Movement against Outrageous Exploitation, LKP), which led the general strike that affected Guadeloupe for 44 days.  The movement that shook Guadeloupe is regularly cited as example by movements of the far left.

Besancenot défile en Guadeloupe au côté du LKP


The original AFP article "Besancenot défile en Guadeloupe au côté du LKP" can be read at the NPA Web site.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi

Venezuela: May Day with Peaceful Protests and Clashes

One of the marches heading towards Urdaneta Avenue in Caracas on Friday (ABN)
Mérida, May 2nd 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) - Thousands marched in Caracas and across Venezuela yesterday to celebrate the International Workers' Day. Sectors of a small opposition march in Caracas caused violence, clashes with police, and minor injuries.

The pro-government mayor of Caracas, Jorge Rodriguez, approved two march routes in Caracas: one by the National Front of Bolivarian Workers, and the other by the Confederation of Workers of Venezuela (CTV), the opposition associated trade union federation.

The National Front of Bolivarian Workers march, supported by the National Union of Workers (Unete, which split from the CTV after it supported the coup against Chávez in April 2002), the Socialist Confederation of Workers (CST) and the Cruz Villegas current of the Confederation of United Venezuelan Workers (CUTV), began at three different points in Caracas then converged on Avenue Urdaneta, extending a kilometer and half as participants listened to a range of speakers and bands.

Marchers interviewed by national channel VTV expressed repeatedly that they were out marching in order to support the revolutionary process and the Chávez government.

President Hugo Chávez, addressing the large crowd said, "There's no socialism without the working class... solid, conscientious, and committed to what is being born in Venezuela, which is Socialism."

"The happiness and passion in the streets of Caracas [today] and the excellent transmission by [community and government run media] VTV, TeleSur, TVes, Radio Nacional, YVKE Mundial...affected me so much that although it wasn't planned that I would speak today, the enthusiasm motivated me."

Retired army general Melven Lopez said unlike before Chávez's presidency, when May Day was a time of "violent protests against the abuses of capitalism, under the Bolivarian Revolution we celebrate this important day."

However Orlando Chirino, a coordinator of Unete and a leader of the United, Revolutionary, Autonomous, Classist Current (C-CURA), said his current wouldn't participate in either the pro-government or opposition marches because the "government, its ministers, its workers, its political party, its governors and mayors, maintain a brutal offensive against the workers to give up their rights that belong to them as a social class and that they have gained over many years of hard battles," reported Laclase.info.

Examples he cited in which he believes the government has "acted against the rights of unions" included some unfair dismissals, unrenewed contracts, various public sectors who are still negotiating collective agreements, and a "growing criminalization of protests."

Meanwhile, the opposition march clashed with police after some sectors tried to breach barricades set up to mark their route. According to the Bolivarian News Agency (ABN), while the CTV was prepared to follow the approved route, which was specifically designed so that the two marches would not meet or clash, some opposition members called for the march to follow a different route and go to the National Assembly, with opposition TV channel, Globovision, confirming such a route.

When opposition marchers attempted to pull down the barricading fence, the police tried to block them. According to a range of news sources, they were encouraged to break down the fencing and march to the assembly by opposition Metropolitan Mayor, Antonio Ledezma. Photos and video footage also confirm that they damaged a Pdval food distribution point (where the government sells food at solidarity prices).

Police and the National Guard used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the violent sectors.  The police and ABN report that such sectors threw rocks and glass bottles at police and that two police officers were injured. Opposition press then carried headlines claiming the Chávez government had repressed the opposition march.

Pablo Castro, a CTV leader and a national leader of the opposition party, A New Time (UNT) said before the march that they were marching "not just for the defense of the rights of the workers but also for all the democratic rights of the country."

In his speech to the other rally that afternoon, Chávez commented on the opposition march saying it was "almost non-existent... The march wasn't workers precisely, but a march of conspirators, and widows of the Pact of Punto Fijo and of capitalism." The Pact of Punto Fijo was a cooperation agreement made between major Venezuelan governing parties in 1958.

Speaking at an event yesterday, commemorating the workers' day and in which 173 workers from various sectors were awarded with medals of the "Work Order of Merit", Chávez also said, "Workers will never again be slaves." He emphasized that its necessary to use education to consolidate the "liberated worker" and that "workers can't be slaves to work" and reiterated his support for the reduction of the working week, one of the proposals in the constitutional referendum of November 2007.

According to Chávez, the unemployment rate (which does not include informal workers) was 7.3% in March, down from 7.4% in February. He pointed out that this is despite the fall in the price of oil, Venezuela's principal export, and compared the statistics to the rest of the world where unemployment is generally increasing.

He also ratified a decision to intervene in a sardine factory in Sucre state and said, "When you all see a private company, a capitalist company that is exploiting workers and not complying with the law...denounce it, as the government is prepared to intervene where necessary." He also emphasized that state companies must be transformed and not operated like capitalist companies.

"They have to be socialist companies where the workers have a fundamental and active role and where the privileges of the managers are no more."

As Chávez announced recently, beginning on May 1st, a 10% increase in the minimum wage will come into effect. Another 10% increase will be implemented later this year. According to Panorama Digital, around half of Venezuelan workers are receiving the minimum wage. Chávez also confirmed yesterday that teachers would receive a wage increase.

Source URL (retrieved on May 3 2009 - 06:47): http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/4414

Socialist Party USA: For Socialists, Every Day is May Day

Editorial, The Socialist, May 2009

There is a new feeling this May Day. Though not exactly a haunting
specter, there is sense that the world may be on the brink of
something new and significant. In one short year, we have witnessed
the near total collapse of a global financial system once so dominant
that it motivated calls for “the end of history.” Capitalism is
failing – drowning in a sea of its own debt, unable to direct the
monumental strands of individual greed and unwilling to submit itself
to the kind of emergency surgery it underwent in the 1930s. And now
it is May Day again, a day for the victims of capitalism to gather
strength through their free association and common desires for
justice.

The severity of the economic crisis can be measured by the outburst of
discussion about socialism on a nearly daily basis in the mainstream
media. Much of this has been fueled by Conservatives who have
creatively discovered socialism inside of every movement of the
Federal Government no matter how wasteful. Former Arkansas governor
Mike Huckabee has led this charge by tagging Barack Obama “the world’s
best salesman for socialism” and hailing the creation of “the Union of
American Socialist Republics.” B-movie actor Chuck Norris boasted of
thousands of right-wing cells preparing to curtail the march toward
socialism.

In progressive circles, conversations have been less bombastic but
equally searching. The Nation presented the choice as either
“Reforming Capitalism” or “Re-Imagining Socialism” and took some tepid
steps away from their electoral support of Obama. Newsweek took a
more direct approach declaring that “We are all Socialists Now.”
However, their version of socialism amounted to little more than state
intervention fueled by a non-descript “populist rage.”

Thankfully, May Day is about something besides the speculations of
pundits. On this day workers who directly suffer under the worst
impositions of capitalism claim public space to speak out about their
common condition. This tradition was born as a commemoration of the
1886 Haymarket massacre in Chicago. From this point forward, the
holiday served as a symbolic means to link working people across
national borders in a common struggle to cast aside the social and
economic limitations enforced by capitalism. Gatherings big and small
– in jails, public squares and city streets – have pronounced the
simple truth that working people are prevented from reaching their
full human potential by a parasitic employer class.

This year, more than any in recent memory, there is much to speak out
about. Our analysis always begins with the simple fact that we live
in a society where 5% of the population controls 85% of the wealth.
Even this is not enough for the employing class. The lure of
super-profits through speculation has drawn them, and de-facto much of
the world’s population, into a massive economic crisis. Humanity is
left to deal with the consequences. In February alone, employers sent
more than 500,000 workers in America to the unemployment line. The
ILO estimates that as many as 230 million people will be put out of
work by the end of 2009. Consequently, the UN estimates that more
than 100 million more people could be forced into the deep poverty of
less than $2 a day.

Employer class spokesmen will respond by crying poverty and demanding
“shared sacrifice.” May Day is the perfect moment to cut through such
false declarations. As a result of the economic crisis, the shortfall
between what could possibly be produced and what is produced amounts
to $7 trillion. Tax structures throughout the world continue to
unevenly favor the wealthy thereby allowing trillions more to be
funneled into private hands. Banks and financial corporations who
hold the immediate responsibility for polluting the global economy
with “toxic assets” have also mostly escaped punitive taxation or
nationalization to clean up their mess. There is plenty of wealth
which could be put to work productively. Only the profit-motive of
capitalism is preventing this.

There is, however, a political and economic option available to the
millions who will spill out into the streets this May Day. Democratic
socialism offers the greatest hope for humanity to live in a world in
which resources are used in rational productive ways to enhance the
development of each individual. All of those things which make us
human – good health, food, shelter, education – should become
inalienable human rights. It is time to trade in our credit cards for
union cards – to make demands for more wages, better working
conditions and jobs in productive enterprises. Socialism will allow
working people to take hold of their lives and become active creators
of the future.

Every day should be directed by the fighting spirit of May Day. By
marching, organizing, and extending bonds of solidarity we can create
socialism for the 21st century from the bottom-up. Such a movement
will be built to last since it rests upon the timeless truth that it
is workers who create all that is valuable in this society.

http://socialistwebzine.blogspot.com/

SACP May Day Message 2009

SACP May Day Message 2009

Build working class power to drive the implementation of the ANC Manifesto"

The SACP joins its alliance partners and millions of ordinary South Africans in celebrating our ANC-led election victory. This was a victory of the workers and poor of our country.

A victory the “analysts” said wasn’t going to happen

But it was a victory that, according to some, was not meant to be.

For the last several years, not a day has gone by without the majority of political commentators and so-called analysts predicting failure and crisis for our alliance. Not a day has gone by without ANC President, our national president in waiting, cde Jacob Zuma, having to endure belittling insults and allegations of all kinds.

COPE – BEE “third termers”

It was an overwhelming victory that was not meant to have happened because, we were told, the Shikota splinter group would pose a “major threat” to the ANC-alliance.

The great majority of South Africans have once more demonstrated their political wisdom and maturity by punishing political opportunism.

The leading personalities in COPE and their financial backers are all “third-termers”. Defeated democratically at Polokwane, they wanted a third-term for their tenders, a third-term for their private wealth accumulation, a third-term for being the BEE favourites who always won the state contracts, a third-term for ripping off public assets. They needed a priest on their posters to try to cover up their true agenda. But the overwhelming majority of South Africans were not fooled.

DA – swartgevaar, rooi-gevaar,

As we got to March and early April, as the ANC victory that was not meant to happen looked more and more likely, so the desperation of opposition parties grew. It was the DA that once more led the way with an increasingly hysterical and personalised campaign. Their campaign said nothing about jobs, or land and food, or houses, or health-care. It was reduced to two words: “Stop Zuma”.

Once more, we were back with the old apartheid-era minority mobilisation around minority fear of a majority. Once more, it was “swart gevaar” and, because cde Zuma is supposedly a “hostage of the SACP and Cosatu” - “rooi gevaar”.

Of course, the ANC president is not the hostage of anyone – but the chattering classes hate him because he has not distanced himself from the alliance partners.

And they hate the SACP and COSATU, because we did not fall into the trap that they have been laying for us for the past 15 years. For 15 years and more they have been predicting that the left would split from the ANC. The media even sometimes praised us and gave us headlines if we raised concerns about the ANC-government. They pretended to mistake our constructive concerns for oppositionism. It is a tiny right-wing that has split from the ANC, not the left.

The bourgeoisie wants the SACP and COSATU to split from the ANC, not so that we can run the country, but so that THEY can run the ANC. They want the ANC and its leadership to be THEIR hostages. Those dreams have been defeated!!

Two-thirds gevaar

In the run-up to April 22, we also had a “two-thirds gevaar” campaign. The ANC and its allies were supposedly going to use a two-thirds majority to change the constitution. Who was spreading this lie?

In the weeks before the election, FW De Klerk emerged from deep obscurity to make this claim. Let’s remind De Klerk of a past he thinks we have forgotten. In 1991 and 1992, then President De Klerk was still trying to prevent a non-racial, majority-rule constitution. Amongst other things, he was proposing that we should have three rotating presidents written into our constitution!! Cde Chris Hani had to die before De Klerk and his National Party finally shifted from attempts to block our new constitution. And now HE, De Klerk, is presenting himself as a great champion of this Constitution!!

The “two-thirds gevaar” campaign was also taken up by Zille. But what are the democratic credentials of her Party? Not so very long ago, during the era of apartheid, the Progressive Party (the fore-runner of today’s DA) – opposed apartheid in name, but argued that the majority of blacks in SA were not yet “ready” to vote. They called for a “qualified franchise” – only a minority of black persons with enough property or education were considered fit to be “citizens” of SA.

It is true that in the recent period, the DA has not argued for a “qualified franchise”, but that is only because it thinks it has found a much more effective weapon for achieving the same result. That weapon is called “the free market” – they don’t need pass laws, or group areas, or forced removals, or a qualified franchises, because the so-called “free market” and its price tag excludes the great majority of workers and poor from their suburbs, from their golf-courses, from their holiday resorts, from their board-rooms, from their schools, from their private health-care clinics …unless, of course, workers are there to tidy up their mess as cleaners and sweepers, as casualised security guards watching over their ill-begotten wealth.

And the DA wants to extend the boundaries of their “free market” empire –which is why they say there must be more privatisation, a more flexible labour market, and why there must be no central planning, no developmental state, no cadre deployment, no affirmative action, no broad-based empowerment.

And this goes to the heart of the matter. All of these so-called “defenders of the constitution” and of the “rule of law” – the De Klerks, the DA’s, and the COPEs - want to separate the constitution from social and economic realities. Yet, that is in direct contradiction with the actual letter and spirit of our democratic constitution. The opposition parties want to separate equality in NAME, from equality in FACT. They want to invoke the “rule of law” to protect the privileges of a minority against the legitimate aspirations and needs of the majority. When Mosioua Lekota arrogantly proclaimed that he was serving “divorce papers” on the ANC…he was, in fact, serving divorce papers on the working class and poor majority of South Africa.

But enough about the opposition parties.

What lessons must the working class draw from these elections?

There are FOUR key issues:

*ONE *– *Sustain the momentum, build popular organisation *

April 22 is a strong indication that the process of internal renewal and revitalisation of the ANC has now been further deepened and consolidated. The first big step in this process of renewal and revitalisation was marked by the Polokwane, ANC National Conference in December 2007. Now April 22 has taken this a step forward.

One of the many messages of congratulation that the ANC received from its international allies came from the Russian Communist Party. Speaking from its own experience of being in power, and then of losing power dramatically in the early 1990s, this is part of what the message says:

It is well known that it is easier to get on top than to stay on top.

It then goes on to say:

The ANC convincingly proved that a party that relied on the people not only during the liberation struggle but also in the process of national reconstruction would retain support of the masses.

We believe that an important ingredient of the ANC success is its decades-long alliance with other progressive forces – South African Communist Party and Congress of South African Trade Unions.

There is much truth in this message.

We all know, that in the midst of our third-term as an ANC ruling party, there were increasing signs of deterioration – careerism, factionalism, aloofness, technocratic arrogance, denialism about the real situation on the ground, attempts to marginalize the alliance partners, and even to weaken ANC branch activism.

Polokwane was the beginning of renewal. April 22^nd 2009 and the campaign that preceded it continued the process. Once more, in this election campaign, we have reminded ourselves that the only way to renew a ruling party and movement, is through re-connecting with our mass base, through daily door-to-door work in our communities and work-places. The election is over, but the struggle continues.

Let us sustain the spirit of volunteerism that we have built through mobilisation in the election campaign.

Let us transform our election machinery into street committees, worker locals, land committees, community policing forums, health committees, school governing bodies – in short, let us now re-double our efforts at building organs of popular power.

Through programmes of action, let us strengthen our branch-level and shop-floor organisation. We have won an overwhelming electoral victory – now let us fill that space with popular organisation.

*TWO – No blank cheque! *

In celebrating our overwhelming election victory, we would be making a big mistake if we thought that the workers and poor of our country had given the ANC-alliance a blank cheque to rule for another 5 years.

Over 65% of SA’s electorate have voted to defend their organisation and to defend their gains.

But our mass base is also telling us that we must address with determination and discipline many issues.

In particular, *corruption* is a scourge that we must deal with. We must do this with renewed vigour, without fear or favour. Corruption is the route through which the bourgeoisie hi-jacks our revolution, and undermines transformation. Corruption is the theft of public resources.

The SACP salutes the role played by COSATU affiliates in exposing corruption in our parastatals. Let us build working class and community vigilance to expose and root out the theft of public property.

*THREE – Build working class unity across ethnic divides!*

Where the opposition has made some gains – like the DA in the Western Cape – it is on the basis of our own disunity and our own mistakes. But is also on the basis of the opposition mobilising minority fears and prejudices.

We have defended and consolidated our mass African base in these elections. But as the ANC-led alliance, we are committed to building a non-racial SA. Just as corruption creates a space for the capitalist class to hijack our revolution - so minority fears and ethnic mobilisation also creates an electoral space for the neo-liberal agenda. To combat this danger, the trade union movement has a particular responsibility.

Apartheid settlement patterns still continue in our country. The DA mobilises minorities as residential communities.

But the capitalist work-place brings workers of different back-grounds together, and exploits them all. Let us build a non-racial SA, rooted in our trade union and work-place struggles! We call on the working class to close ranks, to unite, to drive forward our non-racial, democratic revolution.

*FOUR – Now let us implement our election programme!*

At the heart of our ANC-alliance election manifesto is a commitment to
*decent work* and *sustainable livelihoods* for all South Africans.

With the global capitalist melt-down, this commitment has become more relevant than ever.

The commercial newspapers are talking about a “crisis” - as if it was something new. But for working people around the world, not least for the workers and poor of SA, life is always a crisis. The crisis of low pay, the crisis of casualisation, the crisis of unemployment, the crisis of housing, the crisis of poor public transport and long hours of waiting, the crisis of health-care and poor education for our children, the crisis of food prices, the crisis of old-age.

This new global melt-down is not caused by workers. It is a crisis brought about by an unsustainable world capitalist system in which a tiny minority owns and controls most of the world’s resources. Their greed, their bonus payments, their Reserve Bank neo-liberal policies, their unregulated banks, their tax havens have brought about this meltdown. But now, as always, they are trying to make the workers and poor carry the major burden.

But workers and progressive forces all around the world are not taking this lying down. From London, to Athens, to Iceland, throughout Latin America, to small Pacific islands like Guadeloupe (where there has been a month long general strike), there are growing waves of popular mobilisation. Our own election mobilisation must be seen as part of the global wave in response to the capitalist crisis.

*MAKE THE CAPITALISTS PAY FOR THE CAPITALIST CRISIS!!*

Here in SA, to save jobs we must now ensure that the NEDLAC framework agreement is implemented with a sense of urgency by the new ANC administration.

To save jobs, we must, amongst other things, ensure that we greatly expand the BUY LOCAL campaign.

Tendering policies from government departments and from parastatals must now put much greater emphasis on job creation. The same with BEE score-cards – the priority must be job creation potential.

Government’s infrastructure spending – the Eskom generation-capacity spending, the purchase of buses for 2010 – all of these things must be much better aligned with local industrial policy. We must stop importing goods and components that we can manufacture here.

Labour brokers must be toughly regulated. The casualisation of workers is a deliberate ploy to evade our progressive labour market legislation.

Commitments to improve the wages and conditions of public sector workers must be accelerated.

The Expanded Works Programme must be massified and consideration must be given to making these jobs more permanent – and not just a few months of “work experience”.

The role of Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAS) must be reviewed and greatly improved.

Our Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) – like the DBSA, IDC and Land Bank – and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) – must stop prioritising narrow BEE and focus centrally on social development and job creation.

Let us get down to work to drive a progressive rural development, land and agrarian transformation for food production, food security and food sovereignty. Let us stop approaching land and agrarian reform from a narrow BEE perspective. Let us empower the mass of our people in the rural areas to work the land for their benefit!

Let us start in earnest to implement the National Health Insurance Scheme. Let us, during this May Day, give a clear message to the bosses in the private capitalist health sector that they will face the might of South Africa’s working class if they try to sabotage the efforts of building the NHI!

Our social security net must be defended, and expanded.

*ON APRIL 22, THE WORKERS AND POOR OF OUR COUNTRY DEFENDED THEIR ORGANISATION, THEIR MOVEMENT, THEIR GAINS.*

* *

*NOW, LET US ENSURE OUR ELECTORAL VICTORY IS TRANSLATED INTO REVOLUTIONARY ADVANCES ON THE GROUND!! *

* *

*SOCIALISM IS THE FUTURE…BUILD IT NOW!*

COSATU May Day speakers notes and message

Consolidating working class power in defence of our revolutionary movement for decent work!

COSATU May Day speakers’ notes 2009

The origins of May Day

“Hundreds of thousands of American workers, increasingly determined to resist subjugation to capitalist power, poured into a fledgling labour organization, the Knights of Labour. Beginning on May 1 1886, they took to the streets to demand universal adoption of the 8-hour day.

“Chicago was the centre of the movement. Workers there had been agitating for an 8-hour day for months, and on the eve of May 1, 50,000 were already on strike.30, 000 more swelled their ranks the next day, bringing most of Chicago manufacturing to a standstill.

“Fears of violent class conflict gripped the city. No violence occurred on May 1 — a Saturday — or May 2. But on Monday May 3 a fight involving hundreds broke out at McCormick Reaper between locked-out unionists and non-unionist workers McCormick hired to replace them. The Chicago police, swollen in number and heavily armed, quickly moved in with clubs and guns to restore order. They left four unionists dead &many others wounded.

“Angered by the deadly force of the police, a group of anarchists, led by August Spies and Albert Parsons, called on workers to arm themselves & participate in a massive protest demonstration in Haymarket Square on Tuesday evening, May 4. The demonstration appeared to be a complete bust, with only 3,000 assembling. But near the end of the evening, an individual, whose identity is still in dispute (possibly a police agent provocateur), threw a bomb that killed seven police and injured 67 others.

“Hysterical city and state government officials rounded up eight anarchists, tried them for murder, and sentenced them to death. On 11 November 1887, four, including Parsons and Spies, were executed. All of the executed advocated armed struggle and violence as revolutionary methods, but their prosecutors found no evidence that any had actually thrown the Haymarket bomb. They died for their words — not their deeds.

“250,000 people lined Chicago's street during Parson's funeral procession to express their outrage at this gross miscarriage of justice.

“For radicals and trade unionists everywhere, Haymarket became a symbol of the stark inequality and injustice of capitalist society. The May 1886 Chicago events figured prominently in the decision of the founding congress of the Second International (Paris, 1889) to make May 1, 1890 a demonstration of the solidarity & power of the international working class movement. May Day has been a celebration ever since.

“For all these 119 years, workers around world traditionally come together to pursue their demands for shorter working hours and improved working conditions as well as to celebrate their victories.”

[From A Brief history of May Day, on ‘Our Daily Bleed’ http://www.eskimo.com/~recall/bleed/0501.htm]

South Africa and May Day

Workers in South African fought for many years for recognition of May Day as a special holiday dedicated to their demands for justice and freedom. Initially it was migrants from Europe who brought in the militant traditions of May Day celebrations, which later were to inspire all other workers to establish unions of their choice. Thus the first May Day celebrations in South Africa were in 1904. COSATU was barely five months old when it pulled one of the biggest stayaways to demand recognition of May Day as the paid public holiday in 1986. Shocked by this wave of new worker militancy, P.W. Botha responded by declaring the first Friday in May as the workers day – a paid public day. COSATU led by the uncompromising Elijah Barayi and the General Secretary, Jay Naidoo made it clear that it would take both days. Faced with the reality that workers were going to take the first Friday of May as well as the real May Day on the 1st of May, the stubborn P.W. Botha apartheid regime threw in the towel and recognised the 1st of May – the May Day - as a paid public holiday in 1987. Today May Day is one of the 12 public holidays in South Africa.

What are South African workers celebrating in 2009?

Just a few days ago on 27 April 2009 we celebrated 15 years of freedom and democracy. We thus celebrate this year’s May Day under conditions of thriving democracy.

South African workers have their basic fundamental rights protected in the constitution. Through working together with our ANC government we have ensured that those rights are further entrenched in progressive legislation and extended to cover workers historically excluded – the most vulnerable sections of workers including the farm and domestic workers. It has been 15 years of advancing worker rights!

In an addition to these gains, workers have also benefited immensely from the rolling out of basic services by the ANC government. We celebrate that today 88% have access to water, 80% have access to electricity, and 3.1 million houses have been subsidised, with 2.7 million free houses for the poor providing shelter to 14 million people.

We celebrate that an average of 500 000 new jobs a year were created between 2004 and 2008. We celebrate that more than 480 000 people living with HIV and AIDS receive antiretrovirals from state health institutions. We celebrate the improved access to health care and education and celebrate all these gains.

Our celebrations are taking place today while we are also still celebrating last week’s historic fourth election victory for our revolutionary movement – the African National Congress. Today’s rallies are therefore a double celebration. We have succeeded in defending our revolutionary movement the ANC, the tripartite Alliance and the congress movement as a whole.

We have succeeded in defending worker rights and the progress registered in our country under the leadership of the ANC. We have defended the gains workers made in the 52nd national conference of the ANC held in Polokwane in December 2007.

The commitment the ANC has made through its progressive elections manifesto has invigorated a new spirit of hope and determination in all of us workers. We do believe that the ANC, under its new leadership elected in the Polokwane conference, will ensure that these commitments are taken forward, and we will mobilise to see that this happens.

The pessimism that was beginning to set in, over the last 10 years, has been replaced by a new hope that workers’ priorities have been made national priorities. Detailed programmes are being developed to realise the workers goal of decent work for all. As the manifesto eloquently states, the ANC will “make the creation of decent work opportunities and sustainable livelihoods, the primary focus of our economic policies”.

We have defended our liberation movement – the ANC! We have defended the revolutionary tripartite Alliance – we have defended the congress movement! We have defended our gains and our space.

The election result is a massive demonstration of the power of the working class and the poor majority of South Africans, and of their confidence in the liberation movement that they built. Workers and our people in working-class communities can be proud of the crucial part they played in this victory, and the defeat of the opposition, the media, and all those determined to protect and entrench the minority interests of the rich and powerful.

Workers saw through the opposition’s barrage of attacks, misinformation and lies, and came out as never before to protect and advance our movement.

COSATU wishes to thank the thousands of our shop stewards and activists who worked so hard to ensure this victory and all its members who voted in defence of the revolution and to take forward the fundamental transformation of our society.

The election result is a vote for decent jobs, for healthcare, education and rural development, and against crime and corruption. It is the latest stage in a process, which began at Polokwane, and the Alliance Summits that followed it May and October 2008, and the adoption of the ANC 2009 manifesto. These delivered a new leadership led by President Jacob Zuma, and a decisive move towards pro-poor and pro-worker policies, which gave us new hope that workers’ priorities had been made national priorities.

We stand here excited that we can declare with certainly that at the national level and in most parts of our country the Alliance has never been in such a healthy state. The days of our marginalisation belong to the past. Consultation about every sphere of transformation, including the appointment of the new cabinet, is the order of the day.

Gone are the days of using state institutions to pursue factional battles. Gone are the days of using state resources used for personal accumulation of wealth and sidelining of the real peoples’ interests. We are happy but we did not pray for this to happen. These are the fruits of the 2015 plan COSATU adopted in 2003.

But whilst we rightly claim these achievements of the people and our movement, we know that much more still need to be done. Far too many of our people remain unemployed and too many workers are in temporary and casualised jobs or employed through the labour broking system. Too many of us live in poverty, while a tiny minority control most of the country’s resources. Our country’s wealth is still unfairly distributed and we live in one of the world’s most unequal societies.

We know that our biggest challenges still lie ahead - to ensure that the ANC government now implements the manifesto policies without delay. We are confident that our new President will take these policies forward, and COSATU will mobilise its members to back him up.

The first priority is to ensure that the manifesto pledges are swiftly translated into an implementable programme of action to radically improve our people’s lives.

These tasks are all the more urgent against the backdrop of the global economic crisis, which has already led to thousands of retrenchments. There will undoubtedly be many more employers shedding jobs or shelving plans to create new jobs. And thousands more jobs are disappearing without trace, because of the growing number of permanent jobs being casualised or outsourced to labour brokers, where it is virtually impossible to track the number of jobs.

COSATU applauds the ANC’s pledge to “intervene to ensure that Government, together with labour, business and other sectors work together to develop practical solutions that will ensure that in the short, medium and long term South Africa's economic prospects continue to improve and that jobs losses are avoided or minimised.”

We are even more pleased that even before the election, the ANC government working with labour, business and community organisations began to implement this manifesto pledge, through the Framework Plan, agreed in December 2008.

This is a most significant example of social partners coming together to produce a strategy to counter the impact of the economic crisis and to protect jobs and livelihoods. We fully support the agreement by all parties “to increase the level of employment as well as improve the quality of jobs”.

But however good this agreement is on paper, it has yet to be implemented in practice. Business leaders who signed the agreement must convince all their CEOs to abide by the letter and spirit of this plan. We urge our affiliates to monitor the undertaking from organised business “to urge and encourage CEOs of companies to do everything in their power to avoid retrenchments as a result of the global economic crisis” and to make sure they are abiding by it.

COSATU is working hard in the five task teams, which are meeting to implement the Framework Plan. The unions are represented at the level of General Secretaries and we appeal to the new government to reciprocate this level of seniority. Faced with a crisis that is threatening all the gains registered in the past 15 years, we need the direct involvement of President Zuma and his Ministers to drive this process forward, so we can minimise the impact of the crisis and emerge with a stronger economy, more quality jobs and significant reductions in poverty and inequality.

It has never been more vital to unite as a nation to protect and create employment in our manufacturing industry by buying local and breaking the traditional cycle of exporting raw materials, allowing them to be converted into manufactured goods overseas and then imported back at a huge profit to foreign companies. We must seize the chance to build and strengthen our manufacturing sector.

We shall be monitoring the new government to make sure that all its manifesto promises are urgently and fully implemented. We will not win the fight for decent work without sustained pressure from the trade union movement, to back up the measures the new government has pledged to introduce.

COSATU will never stop representing the workers and campaigning for policies to address their problems. In particular we shall be checking on the implementation of the ANC manifesto’s declaration that “decent work is the foundation of the fight against poverty and inequality and its promotion should be the cornerstone of all our efforts”.

COSATU will not relax until we have put an end to poverty and the wide inequalities that disfigure our society. We shall continue to campaign for the expansion and improvement of public services for the poor, and strongly oppose privatisation and commodification. We shall keep battling for honest, accountable government, and the stamping out of corruption and the use of state institutions for self-enrichment.

We will not however change anything unless we unite our movement and build strong trade union and alliance structures, from branches and locals up to the provincial and national committees. Only then can we mobilise our forces on the scale necessary to ensure we carry forward the great work done in the election into the next five to ten years. We need to translate the incredible energy and mobilisation we have seen in this campaign into a mass movement for transformation to propel our country to greater heights.

Among those challenges is to protect the May Day holiday itself. Employers are eroding the significance of all our historic holidays - May Day, Freedom Day, Women’s Day, Human Rights Day and even Election Day – by forcing more and more of us to work. Some bosses do not even pay workers double time for working on a public day or give them a day off in lieu. COSATU demands that these days be declared non-trading public holidays, on which no employers, apart from those genuinely providing emergency services, can open their workplaces.

On this international workers’ day, COSATU recommits itself to solidarity with our fellow workers under attack - in Palestine, Swaziland, Western Sahara, Colombia, Burma and other parts of the world!

We have dedicated our election triumph to the ANC’s greatest leaders – Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Chris Hani. It is also a victory for our late 2nd Deputy President, Violet Seboni, who tragically died while campaigning for the ANC victory.

As always too, on May Day we raise our red flags in honour of countless workers who build and sustained our trade union movement. A gala dinner will be held in East London on 30 April to honour the contribution of SAAWU and other leaders of the trade union movement in the Eastern Cape.

We shall confer the highest award COSATU gives to individuals – the Elijah Barayi award - to Thozamile Gqwetha, Yure Mdyogolo, Mbuyiselo Ngwenda, Eric Mntonga and John Gomomo.

We salute not only these leaders but all our forbears, in particular Elijah Barayi, Chris Dlamini, Moses Kotane, Leslie Masina, JB Marks, Steven Dlamini, Moses Mabhida, Ray Alexander Simons, Gana Makhabeni, Vuyisile Mini, Oscar Mpetha, Billy Nair, Rita Ndzanga, Liz Abrahams, Curnick Ndlovu, John Nkadimeng, Archie Sibeko, Violet Seboni and many more.

Let us remember them in the way they would have wished – by rededicating our movement to the struggle for the liberation of humankind and a socialist world order! The struggle for a socialist South Africa continues!

Solidarity forever! Workers of the world unite! The people united will never be defeated! Down with the capitalist barbarism and forward to a socialist future forward!

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)

Congress of South African Trade Unions

1-5 Leyds Cnr Biccard Streets

Braamfontein, 2017

P.O. Box 1019

Johannesburg, 2000

SOUTH AFRICA

LALIT’s Labour Day Celebration will be Remembered for Years

4 May 2009

http://www.lalitmauritius.org/viewarticle.php?id=884

LALIT gathered its members, supporters and their families for a Labour Day celebration at Grand River North West in Port Louis on Friday, 1 May. The weather was idyllic, the newly renovated hall was packed, and the atmosphere was at times serious and at other moments festive. With a seamless joint-chairing by Rada Kistnasamy and Cindy Clelie, and around the theme “Economic Crisis and Job Security”, there were inspiring speeches, moving music, camaraderie and friendship. Even the food beautifully prepared by members and their families and brought to be shared, all contributed to making the day thoroughly enjoyable.

The main LALIT speech was by Ram Seegobin, who outlined how LALIT sees the economic crisis as both a difficult time for workers and also an opportunity for the working class to mobilize around and advance a program thoroughly in its favour, a program to oppose capitalism itself, as well as its State. “It is an international struggle,” he said, “And Labour Day is an international holiday, symbolizing the need for international struggles”. He explained how layers and layers of crisis have unfurled in Mauritius, starting with the systemic crisis triggered by the end of preferential markets for sugar and textiles, going through the food crisis, and on until the recent financial and economic crisis have hit, thus exposing the bancruptcy of capitalism itself for everyone to see.

He also explained how a fine working class mobilization had been building up, symbolized by the 28 February enthusiastic trade union march with some 8,000 workers participating actively, and that it had then melted gradually into smaller and smaller demonstrations with wider and more contradictory class components. He said the leaders of the movement had, perhaps inadvertantly, led the mobilization of workers into the hands of people who are workers’ class enemies. The movement is now left, by the time of the march of 25 April and their May Day rally, with a diffuse content wherein bourgeois forces like capitalists and even oligarchs who are opposed to an incineration project because they are competitors of the project-promoters participate, where right-wing parties like the PMSD and MMM send their members, and wherein even like communalist movements like the FCM send their supporters. Harish and Sarita Boodhoo were invited. MMM and PMSD leading members promised to be [and Ganoo and Allet actually were] present. All the trade union leaders sitting together for one day on a podium does not mean working class unity.

Alain Ah-Vee delivered the opening speech in the name of Ledikasyon pu Travayer (Workers’ Education), a co-organizer. He spoke in defense of the mother-tongues that LPT promotes, and announced for the first time, LPT’s plans to hold a Hearing later this year on the damage done in schools by suppressing the chidren’s mother-tongues, Kreol and Bhojpuri. He called on people to come forward and give evidence of their own experience.

Ragini Kistnasamy gave the final speech in the name of the Muvman Liberasyon Fam (Women’s Liberation Movement). It was a tour de force, in which she linked security of employment with the need for security in women’s reproductive work, and thus with the need to decriminalize abortion. She outlined the present MLF campaign to get the 1838 anti-abortion law suspended, following the death of Marie-Noelle Derby, the photographer-journalist who tragically lost her life after an illegal abortion. She also expressed solidarity with the young woman facing charges in the Intermediate Court this Thursday.

Inbetween Sadna Jumnoodoo spoke in the name of Inter-Labaz-Sindikal, a grass roots analytic and mobilizing association of union members of all the different work sectors and unions, and Vimala Lutchmee informed everyone present that the Federation of Preschool Playgroups intends to defy the outrageous interdiction by the Mauritius Qualifications Authority of their training courses.

Solidarity messages from five organizations abroad and two in Mauritius were also read out.

Eugene Cairncross, a WOSA member from South Africa, who was present gave a speech on the different levels of danger in the massive incinerating waste. This follows LALIT having taken a stand on the issues involved in waste incineration (See web article).

The music on Labour Day was divine - going from Rajni Lallah’s solo performance of her compositions around Kaya songs and traditional music interpreted in her own style, to Mark Joseph’s unusual rendering Gerschwin’s “Summertime” with Rajni’s exceptional accompaniment, and from a voice-only rendition of the George Moustaki’s “La revolution permanante” by three women to the late Marie-Ann Both John’s “Anfler” by Marlene Joseph, from Alain and Marousia and two other younger singers’ version of a traditional folk-song to a fantastic ravann duo as part of a perfomance by Plaisance young people, from the CF3 brothers (one being only three, and a fine percussionist) to the roof-lifting singing of the “Linternasyonal”.

Alain Ah-Vee, now a highly skilled Taiti master, gave a particularly powerful exhibition, especially as emotion ran high because Yugo, who was his partner in the same even last year, had died young and suddenly in the intervening year.

The youngest person present was a little one of less than a year, and the oldest had just turned 88 on Tuesday. And after putting order in the headquarters, people went home to the South, the North, the East and the West of the Island, to small villages, all the towns, to housing estates, and coastal villages.

Partido ng Manggagawang Pilipino: Socialist Revolution is Answer

Socialist Revolution is the Answer to Capitalist Crisis

Tens of thousands of workers are victims to the pandemic of layoffs and more than a hundred thousand have seen their incomes cut with the outbreak of rotation, forced leave, compressed workweek and other so-called flexibility schemes. There is no doubt that the working class is being made to pay for the crisis sparked by the capitalist class.

In the US , ground zero of the global recession, more than half a million workers are being laid off every month since the start of the crisis last year. Millions of workers worldwide will bear the burden of a crisis that is not of their own making.

The working class will not pay for a crisis created not just by financial speculators but by the capitalist system itself. It is not just capitalist greed but capitalist need that is to blame for the crisis. The global recession is a crisis of capitalism.

The global recession was set off by the subprime housing implosion but its extent and depth is rooted in the crisis of overproduction that is the bane of capitalism since its birth. The global race to the bottom in wages and working conditions in the last two decades of globalization has created the yawning gap between depressed global demand and a glut in the global supply of goods generated by the international production system.

The world is witnessing the rebellion of the advanced forces of production against outmoded capitalist relations, the contradiction between the socialized forms of production and bourgeois private property exploding into crisis and revolution.

In 2000, on the first anniversary of the revolutionary party that Ka Popoy Lagman founded to replace the old communist party, he made the fearless forecast that the first decade of the new millennium will be the eve of the post-modern socialist revolutions.

Events have proven Ka Popoy’s foresight to be sharp. Working class struggles are reviving in the midst of the global recession while in other countries the proletarian rebellion is advancing by leaps and bounds. In Latin America, historic class struggles have been the foundation for the electoral victories of leftist leaders to the peak of the state machinery. In Europe, general strikes are the character of the workers rebellion.

In the Philippines , the Party is at the forefront of the stirrings of working class struggles in the export zones of Cebu and the depressed communities of Metro Manila. Under the leadership of the Party and under the hammerblows of the crisis, these economic struggles will inevitably develop into a political movement that will challenge the rotten elite system. A new socialist revolution is the answer to the crisis of moribund capitalism.

May Day 2009
Partido ng Manggagawang Pilipino (Workers Party)

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