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Militants mark May Day in Timor Leste, Pakistan and Malaysia (video)

Timor Leste: Workers and students rally for May Day in Dili

By Mericio Akara

DILI, May 1, 2008 -- A May Day rally attended by some 700 workers organised by the Trade Union Confederation of Timor Leste demanded the implementation of labour laws, just wages that comply with the minimum wage regulations and lowering of prices. Demonstrators consisted of workers from several companies in Dili, students and civil society activists. The Luta Hamutuk Institute sent along its members to participate also.

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The main demands of the rally were: the need for fair labour laws in Timor Leste, that employers and government must pay attention to and comply with workers' rights through the payment of a fair minimum wage; decrease prices as the Timorese government now is unable to deal with spiralling prices of consumer items. Demonstrators also pledged to continue their actions until their demands are met. The slogans were: ``Workers of the world unite'', ``International solidarity among workers is necessary'' and ``Workers need to organise for their future'', ``Let the momentum of May Day become the way to unite workers'' and so on.

At the same time, students also held a speakout at the social and political sciences faculty of the Timor Leste National University. Their demands were very similar, but the slogans were different, such as ``We are anti-capitalist'', ``Get out capitalists'' and "Get out those who suck the blood of the people''.

Photos courtesy of Mericio Akara, Luta Hamutuk Institute, Dili. Report by Mericio Akara. Translated by Vannessa Hearman.


Labour Party Pakistan mobilises thousands at May Day rallies

By Farooq Tariq

More than 10,000 people participated in May Day rallies organised by Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) and its sympathising organisations. They include Women Workers Help Line (WWHL), National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM) and Labour Education Foundation (LEF). This May, we had the largest mobilisations ever. No other left or right political party in Pakistan could match this mobilisation.

In Lahore, WWHL mobilised more than 1200 working-class women to raise the issue of home-based workers. This was the largest women's rally in Lahore. Another 500 workers were organised by NTUF and LEF in a rally that joined the main rally of the Pakistan Workers Confederation.

In Faisalabad, the LQM organised the largest rally of the city with more than 3000 workers mainly from textile sector. In Karachi, the NTUF organised a seminar with more than 1300 participants and later the LPP organised a rally with more than 500 participating. the NTUF seminar was the largest May Day gathering in Karachi.

At Murdan, more than 250 women participated in a WWHL seminar, the largest women's mobilisation in this religiously dominated city in North West Frontier Province.

At Sanghar in Sind, more than 2000 participated in a joint rally of different trade unions and the LPP. This was the main rally in the district. At Moro in Sind, more than 500 participated in workers rally organised by the LPP in cooperation with different trade unions.

At Qasur in Punjab, more than 400 power loom workers held a sit-in to demand the arrest of a power loom boss who had attacked a worker. The police had to act on the demand immediately to end the sit-in. This was an LPP rally with different trade unions.

At Hyderabad in Sind, more than 700 participated in a May Day rally organised by the LPP, the NTUF and LEF.

At Bahalwal Nagar in Punjab, more than 500 participated in a joint rally of the LPP and other social and trade union organisations. At Multan, LPP participated in a joint rally with other trade unions attended by hundreds.

Similar smaller meetings were organised in several other cities and towns for May Day.



Malaysia: May Day rally proceeds despite police disruption



More than 2000 people attended

May 1 2008, Kuala Lumpur

All major newspapers this morning had a warning from the city police chief asking people not to participate in the May Day rally called by JERIT. The chief police officer of Kuala Lumpur, Muhammad Sabtu Osman, stated that the rally was illegal as it did not obtain a police permit and those participating would be arrested under Section 27 of the Police Act. Consistent with the threat, Dataran Merdeka was cordoned off by riot police. The crowd then gathered near the Bar Council,while Malaysian Socialist Party leaders led by secretary general S. Arutchelvan and chairperson Dr Nasir Hashim held negotiations with the district police Chief Mohammad Zulkarnain.

Video of the disrupted May Day rally in Malaysia

After a tough negotiations, the police -- who initially decided to disperse the crowd -- backtracked and allowed the people to gather and walk in smaller numbers. The organisers decided to compromise on carrying the banners. Besides that, leaflets on the importance of May Day were distributed along the way. The crowd then moved in three-four people and walked to Confucian School where the main event was to take place. The walk was led by Comrade A. Sivarajan.

Whatever said, the May Day this year was once again disrupted by the police who do not respect the democratic rights of the people. In spite of the huge victory in the elections, freedom of assembly remains curtailed. The Bar Council held a watching brief on the events today.

The crowd then walked past the busy KL streets and moved into the venue of the event. Inside, around twenty newly elected state assembly members and MPs also attended the event. It was perhaps the first time that so many elected reps attended a May Day rally.

The event started with a big applause to the people who have successful marched to the venue. The vent was conducted in three languages. It started with a workers' song. The highlight was when the demands were put on stage and each representative read out the demands. The May Day logo was the unveiled. The political parties’ representative then gave their commitment and pledged to carry out reforms on workers rights. The main speakers were Dr. Lo Lo from PAS – MP from Setiawangsa, Charles Santiago- DAP, MP for Klang, Zuraidah PKR, MP from Ampang while Dr. Nasir represented PSM.

Charles Santiago said that the Selangor State Government would try to implement RM1500 minimum wage in government-linked companies in Selangor while Dr Lo Lo said that reforms would start form the five states and it will be used as a pressure point for reforms in the Federal Government. Dr Nasir spoke about workers' power and their rights.

The event ended with the May Day Declaration which has 15 points read out one by one. 102 organisations endorsed this year's declaration. The declaration among other things called for a minimum wage, special retrenchment funds for workers, housing for the poor and an end to forced evictiona, abolish the University and Colleges Act, give land for farmers, abolish the Internal Secuirty Act, equal rights for migrant workers, stop the Free Trade Agreement tals and privatisation of water and public health care, enact laws to protect women and resolve land issues involving the indigenous community.

The finally May Day 2008 was concluded with the singing of the Internationale.

The organising committee need to be applauded for continuing this great tradition of May Day. There are many other efforts done to commemorate May Day but it is only when the spirit of the workers are alive can any event be successful.

Photos by Colin and Nalini E

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