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May Day: Asia's socialists -- Intensify the struggle against poverty and neoliberalism

STOP PRESS: Socialist Party of Malaysia leaders, May Day marchers arrested

May 1, 2011 -- Malaysiakini -- PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvan earlier tried to negotiate with the police near the Chow Kit monorail station before being taken away by police officers. Arutchelvan, one of the key members of the Labour Day organising committee, was supposed to have joined others in the march from Chow Kit to the Dataran Merdeka. In a a short press conference prior to his arrest, Arutchelvan told reporters that he considers the police obstruction to the peaceful march a "violation of basic rights". He also said that he had already informed the police prior to the march, and said such a notice is sufficient as opposed to a police permit.

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Statement by the Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Laboring Masses, Philippines)

Sobra na Kahirapan! Tama na ang Pagpapabaya ng Pamahalaan!

Enough of poverty! Enough of government inaction!

May 1, 2011 -- This May 1, despite getting rid of the hated government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and electing a new president, Noynoy Aquino, who has promised to end corruption and poverty, over 100 years since the first May Day, Filipino workers and the poor have very little to celebrate. Despite the high expectations of large sections of the working class and the poor who voted for President Aquino, his government has failed to address any of the substantial questions facing Filipinos today: poverty and hunger, low wages, unemployment.

In fact the latest SWS survey shows an increase in hunger and is a major concern that must be taken seriously and not brushed off in a squabble over statistics. According to the March 4-7 poll, 20.5% of respondents -- or an estimated 4.1 million families -- have gone hungry at least once in the past three months. This is up from the estimated 3.4 million families recorded in November 2010, i.e., almost 1 million extra families are going hungry today due to poverty. Along with the other examples of poverty and marginalisation -– such as the shocking deaths of up to 30 people in Palawan, including children, due to easily preventable ailments such as diarrhea -– this demonstrates that the situation of the masa is deteriorating.

The fact is that widespread poverty, and related hunger, continues to exist and is the most serious socioeconomic problem that the country faces today. We don’t need statistics to tell us this. The masa know this and we experience it in our daily lives. The deteriorating situation of the masa and the seeming inability of the government to reverse the trend represent the failure of the government to carry out its promise of poverty reduction during its first year in office.

We needed far-reaching reforms and strategies -– at least 12 months ago. Without meaningful measures and reforms the situation for the masa will continue to worsen, and poverty and hunger will increase. The president must put forward a concrete development plan. The president must have a clear strategy for poverty reduction and must have the political will to implement them. At the heart of such a strategy and plan should be far-reaching measures for job creation for the country’s citizens -– not Conditional Cash Transfer programs. There is no time to waste. The people are hungry and are getting desperate.

This May 1 the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) commits to intensifying the struggle around a series of demands that will provide immediate protection for the working class and the poor. We will now take up the fight in direct opposition to the government of President Noynoy Aquino. The PLM and our allied mass organisations will launch a series of campaigns around the following demands:

  • Scrap the value added tax!
  • Price ceiling now!
  • Extend the moratorium on demolitions!
  • For a P125 daily minimum wage increase!
  • Job creation program for the youth!

In intensifying our struggle around these demands, we reaffirm our commitment to the unity of the left and progressive movements who also support these demands and we will explore all avenues to maximise the unity of the mass movements to strengthen our struggles to protect and defend the masa.

This May 1 PLM also reaffirms its commitment to international solidarity. We will draw on the lessons and the inspiration provided by workers and comrades struggling around the world, to challenge the capitalist order and build socialist alternatives -- from peoples power in the Middle East, to the mobilisation of workers and students against cutbacks in Europe, to the comrades in Latin America who are showing us the way towards the socialism of the 21st century.

We also extend our warm solidarity to our sister socialist parties in the Asia region and we will continue to support all initiatives to strengthen our networks and relations.

With renewed determination to intensify the struggle we declare:

Long live May Day!

Issued by the international desk, Partido Lakas ng Masa.

KASBI (Indonesia): One commitment, one stance, one action: Eradicate neoliberalism!

Wipe out contract-based work system and outsourcing now!

Confederation of Congress of Indonesian Unions Alliance (Konfederasi KASBI) statement on May Day 2011

May 1, 2011 -- May Day is a victory day for all workers in the world. May Day is the victory of workers by seizing 8-hours a day working system which will always be a milestone in workers movement until today.

May Day is a resistance day for all workers in the world to oppose a capitalism and neoliberalism.

May Day is not just only celebration. The spirit of May Day is more about struggle and solidarity of the
working class all around the world. May Day is a day when all workers unite in a struggle against
capitalism. As Engels reminded us, “we have nothing to lose but our chains” to promote
resistance and solidarity among workers. We have to fight for our rights with all commitment,
braveness and militancy.

Today, as happened in all the countries, workers in Indonesia still live under the capiltalism system
which has extended its form with neoliberalism. Workers in indonesia still live under exploitation of this
neoliberal agenda that produced labour market flexibility, a cheap labour policy and violence against the
workers. Under labour market flexibility program, government implemented contract-based
working system and outsourcing to extend and intensify their exploitation.

The Confederation of Congress of Indonesian Unions Alliance (Konfederasi KASBI) confirming that the system of contract-based work and outsourcing, with its various forms such as freelance workers, daily workers and partners in transportation is the main enemy of workers in Indonesia. The system of contract-based work and outsourcing cause people to lose the rights of certainty of work and decent work. This system also became a main factor of the problem for workers to get their freedom of expression and freedom to form a union.

In line with labour market flexilibity, the government of Indonesia is still implementing the cheap labour
policy (which is a relic from [Suharto's] New Order regime) to promote and attract foreign investment to Indonesia. This government policy shows that government of Indonesia has betrayed its own people by sacrifing welfare and prosperity of the people for the capitalist.

Now, workers and unions in Indonesia are facing massive acts of union busting at every level. These
brutal acts are happening in many forms in all factories in Indonesia. From “soft” approaches like mutation of union leaders or promotion of management unions, to a brutal acts like dismissal, intimidation and criminalisation of unions and union activities.

Based on these situations, the Confederation of Congress of Indonesian Unions Alliance (Konfederasi
KASBI) conclude that we don’t have any choice but to build one commitment, one stance and one
action to eradicate neolieralism and to wipe out the contract-based work system and outsourcing.
On this International Workers' Solidarity Day – May Day, the Confederation of Congress of Indonesian
Unions Alliance (Konfederasi KASBI) states:

1. The capitalist system with its extention as neoliberalsm has failed and is a rotten system. This system only serves capital and puts workers and all people in poverty.

2. Labour market flexibility as the main agenda of neoliberalism and has been proving a draconian system that creates workers who work under uncertainity and make workers a commodity in favour of capital.

3. The government of Indonesia, with support of false politicians (in the parliament, political parties and other institutions) has become a servant of neoliberalism. This government is not a government of the majority of people in Indonesia.

In this moment, Confederation of Congress of Indonesian Unions Alliance (Konfederasi KASBI)
would like to express our respect and appreciation for all workers in Indonesia who participate in
May Day celebrations with mass actions in factories, industrial areas and government offices. We believe that May Day is not only a celebration. May Day is a day of resistance and struggle of the workers' movement.

The Confederation of Congress of Indonesian Unions Alliance (Konfederasi KASBI) as a part of
international working-class movement promotes a unification of workers' movement, peasants'
movement, student movement and all oppresed people to build a one commitment, one stance and
one action to eradicate neoliberalism. To replace the capitalist system with the system that can
produce universal justice and prosperity for people.

Socialist Party of Malaysia May Day statement

By the Socialist Party of Malaysia 

May 1, 2011 -- More than a century after the birth of Labour Day, what progress is there in the rights, and working and living conditions of the working class and the marhein all over the world? More than a  century since, our basic demands -- for a minimum living wage and 8-hour workday -- remain unchanged.

Malaysian workers continue to be at the mercy of individual bosses in the absence of a minimum wage act. The 8-hour workday has been insidiously converted into 12 hours in two shifts in an arrangement that benefits the bosses. Compulsory overtime to supplement low wages has become a necessary evil for workers but it deprives them of rest, and time for family and community.   

The Malaysian government’s low-wage policy incentive to attract foreign investors continues to erode whatever rights workers enjoyed. By amending labour laws the government has made it easier to sack workers. Unemployment and job insecurity have been created by allowing cheap and docile migrant labour without exhausting local labour supply first. 

Living standards have deteriorated. Adequate and affordable housing for 60% of households remains out of reach. Privatisation of public utilities and services has resulted in deterioration in quality and increase in cost to consumers. Private hospitals with superfluous state of the art gadgets and specialists exist for the rich, side by side with neglected public hospitals with inferior facilities and a serious brain drain to serve the vast low income majority.

Government statistics show that 34% of workers earn an income below the official poverty line of RM720, and 70% earn less than RM1500 a month. In March 2010, the National Economic Advisory Council to the NEM reported that 80% of households had an average income of less than RM3000 per month, and that the distribution disparity of income was getting wider. Despite being fully conscious of the daily struggle of the majority of the rakyat [people] in trying to make ends meet, and also of the widening gap between rich and poor, the government continues to make decisions that worsen the problem for the rakyat. It tried to, and still has intentions of, implementing the GST (goods and services tax) to ease corporate taxes and transfer the tax burden to the rakyat.

In addition, in 2010 the government started cutting down the RM24 billion subsidy for essential items like cooking gas, petrol and sugar, citing imminent bankruptcy if it were to continue with the subsidy, but retained the RM84 billion subsidy to the corporate sector.

The message is clear. The government will betray workers and pawn their rights and those of the marhein to preserve the interests of the capitalists with whom the ruling elite are strongly bonded. This has become all the more obvious with the adoption of neoliberal market mechanisms that are hostile to workers. 

If after five decades of nationhood, there is still no minimum wage act to provide a minimum guarantee, this government is totally irrelevant to the vast majority of Malaysians. Let us vote this government out as the first step towards a better alternative to capitalism. 

Released by Rani Rasiah

PSM national deputy secretay general

Pakistan: Working Women Organization

Dear Friends!

On International Workers Day, I send warmest solidarity greetings to workers all over the globe. No doubt we are going through a period when the exploiting powers have imposed wars, brutality, socioeconomic and political turmoil on the nations. Every next day starts with experience of horrific price hikes, increased unemployment, poverty and extreme violation of basic human rights.

Thousands innocent children, women, and men are victims of so-called campaign against terrorism around the world. The situation is certainly very challenging for workers, especially women workers to keep their spirits high but we "workers" have always led with light and hope in most disappointing circumstances and get successes to break the circle of injustice and exploitation.

The world is witnessing that no power can stop workers, not in 1886 and not now or ever. The workers' struggle may get a few punches but will not get crushed.

So let's continue our struggle and be strong and celebrate our day with energetic minds and souls. Congratulations for May 1.

Great successes and power to workers!

In solidarity,

Aima Mahmood, executive director, Working Women Organization, Lahore, Pakistan.

Comments

Free Malaysia: May Day rally proceeds despite police arrests

K Pragalath | May 1, 2011

About 400 people gathered to celebrate May Day this morning despite the arrest of at least 20 protesters, including an MP and PSM's sec-gen.

KUALA LUMPUR: The May Day rally today saw the arrest of about 20 protesters including Sungai Siput MP Jeyakumar Devaraj and Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general S Arutchelvan.

They were arrested for failing to disperse from an illegal assembly.

Most of them were arrested at Maju Junction along Jalan Sultan Ismail while Arutchelvan and another person were taken in near the Chow Kit monorail station.

One person was arrested opposite the Dang Wangi police station for carrying  a banner. He was at the police station to support his arrested colleagues.

About 400 people had gathered since 10.30am to take part in the May Day rally, calling for a minimum wage and against the continuing price hikes. The protesters were made up of estate workers, residents from displaced housing settlements and representatives from the civil societies.

The rally was organised by 75 non-governmental organizations.

Peaceful sit in

The rally was to have started at 10.30am at the Chow Kit monorail station from where the protesters had planned to march towards Dataran Merdeka.

However a strong police presence at the monorail station saw the protesters emerging at Maju Junction, located about 2km away from the original venue.

Here the protesters carried banners and placards, and chanted slogans for the government to introduce minimum wage and bring down the prices of essential goods.

“What do we want? Minimum wage, no GST, no subsidy cuts, free education,” they chanted.

Minimum wage was among the 18 demands that the protesters sought in their memorandum.

They then proceeded to Information, Telecommunication and Culture Ministry located in a nearby building and staged a peaceful sit-in.

The organisers also managed to submit a memorandum to Malaysian Human Rights Commissioner James Nayagam at the entrance of the building.

It is learnt that Jeyakumar, Arutchelvan and the other protesters were brought to the Dang Wangi police station.

Nineteen of the protesters were released on police bail at about 5pm but Arutchelvan was held back, apparently over an old theft case filed in Alor Star in 1995.

The 19 released protesters and a group of supporters were still waiting at the police station as at 6pm, urging for Arutchelvan to be released.

“They are chanting his name and braving the rain,” said an acvist from PSM.

No room for negotiation

Jeyakumar, speaking to reporters just before he was arrested, criticised the police for not allowing the protesters to march peacefully to highlight their plight.

“Why do they (police) have to arrest people for this?” he asked, adding that the protesters would continue with their protest despite the police action. He was soon arrested after that.

“We don’t need to have police permit since the government recognises May Day as a public holiday. The police don’t understand their role in a democracy,” he said.

Prior to his arrest, he attempted to negotiate with the police.

“We want half an hour only and then we’ll disperse,” he said. The police however demanded that the placards carried by protesters were brought down.

Valerie Mohan of the Woman’s Aid Organisation, who is also a joint organiser of the rally, added: “They don’t realise that what we are doing is for them as well.”

The protesters dispersed at about 12 noon. Some of them proceeded to the police station in support of those arrested.

Minister on minimum wage

Nayagam meanwhile assured the protesters that their rights would be protected.

“I will ensure the rights of those detained are protected. I will also ask the police to release the detainees and ensure that they are not harassed,” said Nayagam.

In a related development, Human Resources Minister, Dr S Subramaniam tweeted on the minimum wage demand.

“Income should increase with productivity. Prices in Malaysia are competitive on a global scale.

“Shift of industry towards knowledge and technology will move wages up,” he added.

Great contents. May 1 was

Great contents. May 1 was labor day and this is the time where the government should reflect on the workers salary and effort to work for hours to provide for their family. I hope the government from all over the world will hear the workers call to somehow raise the salary as the prices on the market is rising there are lots of people who are suffering the circumstances. Everything has increased from rice to clothes you wear and the salary of the workers remain the same. How can a family of 5 ever budget the expenses they have?

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