Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bracing for the global May Day protest surge

Some of the actions planned in places other than Greece:

Berlin braces for violent May Day

German authorities are bracing for unusually strong violence accompanying May Day demonstrations in Berlin.

The German capital's far-left scene has over the past few weeks staged numerous attacks. It torched cars, damaged company buildings and expensive apartments. Authorities have been surprised by most attacks, as the individuals staging them seemed to be striking randomly.

The large numbers of these attacks has observers worried that the far-left scene is gearing up to disrupt the traditional May Day protests, which have in the past led to violent clashes between police and far-left extremists.

To prepare for an unusually rocky May Day, Berlin's authorities have asked for 1,700 additional police to be dispatched to the capital, a senior security official told German daily Tagesspiegel. More than 5,000 police will secure Berlin on May 1, a public holiday and a traditional day of protests.

One of the biggest left-wing scenes in Germany has amassed in Berlin, where rent remains relatively cheap and unemployment is high. During the late 1980s and 1990s, the Kreuzberg district saw yearly mass brawls between police and protesters, with several hundred people injured and cars and shops set ablaze...

May Day protestors warn of "nation of criminals" (In The News)

Protestors are planning on gathering outside the Bank of England next week to demonstrate against the police handling of the recent G20 protests.

Planned to coincide with May Day, the group Space Hijackers has called on people to dress as either convicts or prisoners and gather outside the bank at 17:04 BST on May 1st.

Those dressed as convicts are advised to wear striped clothing and stand in a designated "prison yard".

The "police" are being asked by the protest's organisers to dress in high-visibility or "riot black" clothing. They are urged to "encircle the prisoners to p**s them off and start some fights". They are also asked not to accept food or drink from those dressed as convicts.

Those dressed as the police are also asked not to wear fake police ID numbers and cover their faces as a way of drawing attention to the reports Metropolitan police officers failed to wear their official identification during clashes at the G20 protests earlier this month.

A poster on the Space Hijackers website defiantly declares: "If they want a nation of criminals then let them have it..."

The protest comes as the police continue to face fierce criticism over the way the G20 protests in central London were controlled on April 1st.

Working to Reclaim May Day
by Karen Yi
(The Indypendent)

The government has committed trillions of dollars to bail out Wall Street in less than a year. And as the Obama administration and the corporate elite bicker over what money goes where, those most affected by the economic crisis have been seemingly shut out of negotiations.
Caught in between the finger-pointing and bank bailouts are the communities that are absorbing the brunt of foreclosures and rising unemployment. But this May 1, the unemployed, the homeless and immigrants are taking their demands to the streets.

The New York May 1st Coalition, a committee of more than 40 immigrant and worker rights organizations in the New York region, will rally at noon at Union Square to celebrate International Workers’ Day (May Day) and to hold President Barack Obama accountable on his 100th day in office...

Why Immigrant Workers Will Fill the Streets This May Day by David Bacon (La Prensa San Diego)

In a little over a month, hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of people will fill the streets in city after city, town after town, across the US. This year these May Day marches of immigrant workers will make an important demand on the Obama administration: End the draconian enforcement policies of the Bush administration. Establish a new immigration policy based on human rights and recognition of the crucial economic and social contributions of immigrants to US society.

This year’s marches will continue the recovery in the US of the celebration of May Day, recognized in the rest of the world as the day recognizing the contributions and achievements of working people. That recovery started on Monday, May 1, 2006, when over a million people filled the streets of Los Angeles, with hundreds of thousands more in Chicago, New York and cities and towns throughout the United States. Again on May Day in 2007 and 2008, immigrants and their supporters demonstrated and marched, from coast to coast.

One sign found in almost every march said it all: “We are Workers, not Criminals!”...

Deregulation: Labour, allies, begin nationwide protest May 1 by Victor Ahiuma-Young (Vanguard)

...Represented by the Congress’ Assistant General Secretary (Organisation), Mr. Denga Yaqub, Odah stressed that unlike the usual May Day celebration, this year’s May Day would be used to trigger off the commencement of the nationwide anti-deregulation policy of government.

He said: ''The General Secretary said I should tell you that unlike the usual May Day cerebration, this year’s May Day would be used to commence the national protest and mass rally by labour and its civil society allies, otherwise known as LASCO. We are determined to resist the government plan to fully deregulate the downstream sector of the nation’s economy.

Even the father of capitalism, the United States, has realised that deregulation and market driven economy has failed. That is why they are bailing out their private sector. In the US, it is no longer news that several private companies had been bail out. The same in Britain and other European countries. We see no reason why our government should not intervene and bail out our oil industry that is in deep crisis. Again, the government should explain to Nigerians where the got the money they claimed they used to subsidise petrol and how the money was spent. So, I am directed to tell you that the mass rally and protest will begin from the First week of May.”

Take it to the streets for May Day by James Ellis (Metro)

Greetings, comrades - this year is the 50th anniversary of Fidel Castro's victory in the Cuban revolution and the 60th anniversary of communism in China. So with International Workers' Day just around the corner, we present you with the best places to go to find the Red Flag flying.

Perhaps not the first place you'd expect to see on a list of May Day celebrations but Edinburgh is pulling out all the stops this year by getting Che Guevara's daughter Aleida to lead the parade. Joining her on the podium will be Red Pepper magazine editor Hilary Wainwright, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union Matt Wrack and Mark Lyon, TGWU-Unite union convenor at the Grangemouth oil refinery. The parade is actually on Saturday, May 2, starting at noon from Market Street and heading towards the Scottish parliament.

British lorry drivers know how much our friends in France love a good protest and May Day provides the perfect platform for a parade. Everything in the city bar the Eiffel Tower closes for La Fête du Travail, which sees the main unions march through east Paris. Website recommends the Bastille as the place to see the parade. Not only is it 'an enduring symbol of royal repression' but the area is also packed with a host of designer bars at which you can re-establish your consumerist credentials.

Eurostar ( has breaks including return train tickets from London and accommodation in two-star hotels from £99 per person per night.

Love or loathe Fidel, you have to give him props for both longevity and managing to
stick it out against the power of US pressure for half a century. Following the election of Barack Obama and Castro's move to the background of Cuban politics, a thawing of relations between the US and Cuba is on the cards. Until then May Day in Havana has to be seen to be believed. On an island with a population of 11million, some 6million take part in May Day celebrations and more than 1million gather in Plaza de la Revolucion, making it the largest annual gathering after the Mecca pilgrimage.

Virgin Holidays ( has seven nights in Havana departing April 26 from £847.

Forget having one day to celebrate Labour Day; in China you get three although most people take the whole week off. And while this means you're unlikely to have any of the major sites to yourself, it also makes for a great atmosphere as the major parks and squares will be teeming with people out in celebration. The main event, though, takes place in Tiananmen Square.

Thomas Cook ( has seven nights in Beijing departing April 26 on a room- only basis plus flights from £503 per person. ...

Hong Kong may (finally) take action by Craig Stephen (Market Watch)

...Neighboring Macau has raised expectations, announcing last week cash gifts of 6,000 patacas ($752) to all permanent residents and 3,600 patacas for non-permanent residents. This move is not just designed to inject some feel-good spending patacas into the economy, but also to avert possible unrest at the upcoming May Day rally from the swollen ranks of laid-off workers.
Hong Kong is also approaching protest season, although it's the July 1 Handover holiday that is the big date to watch. If Hong Kong copied Macau's policy, it would offer goodies to more potential protesters, as approximately one-third of the population pays income tax...

What’s next? May Day editorial (Workers World)

...The question in the minds of those who want to take the struggle further is: What’s next?

Barring dramatic changes, the answer is obvious: Organize for May Day!

May Day—International Workers’ Day—was first inspired in the 1880s by the actions of tens of thousands of mostly European immigrant workers fighting in Chicago and demanding the eight-hour day. The Communist International recognized the importance of the workers’ struggle in the United States—a rapidly developing capitalist country, continental in scope, and with none of Europe’s feudal past—and declared May 1 as the day for workers to demonstrate across the world.

May Day had been mostly ignored for decades here in the U.S. when in the spring of2006, immigrant workers and their supporters demonstrated by the millions in a wave of demonstrations across the country. Angered by the threat of the horribly repressive Sensenbrenner bill, they held the strongest May Day job action ever in the U.S., and have been marching on May Day ever since...

Call for support for May Day celebrations in Turkey (ITF)

The ITF is calling on affiliates to back workers in Turkey as they gear up for Labour Day on 1 May. Trade unionists have in the past borne the brunt of police violence during previous years’ celebrations.

The ITF has urged unions to send a protest email to the Turkish government to reinforce the federation’s demand for 1 May to be recognised as Labour Day by the Turkish government. It is calling on the government to make the move as part of ongoing assistance to its Turkish affiliates, Tumtis and Hava-Is.

Last year May Day celebrations were disrupted as police attacked venues, spraying people with pepper spray, carrying out brutal beatings and making arrests, all of which received worldwide media attention...

Gearing Up for May Day, Diverse Groups Take to Queens Streets by Karen Yi (The Indypendent)

Against a backdrop of multi-colored flags from Filipino organizations and amidst indigenous music from the Ecuadorian group Raices, day laborers, immigrants and community activists came together to demand dignity and rights for all workers in a protest on April 19 in Woodside, Queens. The march began at 11:30 a.m. as protesters marched along Roosevelt Avenue, chanting “The People United, Will Never Be Defeated!”

Gearing up for the May 1 rally, day laborers and Filipino worker and human right organizations came together to demand an end to deportations, raids and workplace discrimination. Filipino organizations such as the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FIRE), Philippine Forum, and BAYAN NY/NJ marched with primarily Ecuadorian and Mexican day laborers in a show of solidarity against increased police harassment towards day laborers in Woodside.

“Although the geographies and the locations are different, our communities, and the immigrant workers in our communities, are suffering the same kind of exploitation,” said Valerie Francisco, chair of the Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FIRE)...

Tenants' Protest Against Rent Increases by Akai47 (

...The Warsaw Tenant's Association joined in organizing yesterday's protest, which was also supported by members of the Office of Social Justice, Union of Syndicalists and Left Alternative. Another protest will be held next Monday and on May Day, when the rent increase is set to take place. The Union of Syndicalists are calling for a Rent Strike but realizes that the level of organization of tenants is not high enough yet.
Many tenants obviously will not be paying these news rents because they simply cannot afford them, but unless people make more efforts to organize themselves, people will be fighting isolated, individual battles against the city which will eventually move to evict many of them. The Tenant's Defense Committee is hoping that people will begin to take a more organized approach to the problem.

In the meanwhile, tenants, especially from the Praga district, are outraged by the rent hike. People in Praga point out that most public housing is in tragic condition. Most buildings do not have central heating and many even to do have hot water, bathrooms or toilets in the flats. In addition, there are many health and safety violations in the building and the dangerous incidents, including fires are on the increase...

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