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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.

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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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