By Mervyn Drage
Thousands of working people took the day off on Friday to take part in London’s traditional May Day march and rally. As usual the crowd was swelled by communists from the Turkish and Kurdish community in the capital who marched with the rest from the Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell Green to Trafalgar Square to hear trade unionists, pensioners’ campaigners and John McDonnell, the leader of the Labour Representation Committee celebrate international workers’ day and call for socialism.
McDonnell welcomed the victory of the Visteon Ford workers who have now won enhanced redundancy terms after a wave of strikes, pickets and occupations. "The Visteon workers have, through their struggle, achieved a just settlement. They are an example to us all," he said adding: "If we need a general strike to move forward, why don't we call for one? What are we afraid of?"
Manchester’s annual May Day parade, organised by the local trades council and local anti-racist and community groups, took place three days later on the bank holiday and thousands responded to the call turn out with their colourful banners on a beautiful sunny day. Attempts by supporters of the fascist British National Party to disrupt the parade slightly delayed the start but they were escorted away by the police and there were no arrests. The rest of the day was peaceful and the protest took place without any further incidents.
The organisers used the protest to demonstrate against the capitalist slump, to fight for full employment, equality at work and in favour of the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers. The organisers also used the opportunity to bring attention to forthcoming local and European elections, urging people to vote wisely and say no to the BNP.
At the rally in Castlefield, the main speaker was Billy Hayes, General Secretary of the Communications Workers Union; there were also speakers from: Unite Against Fascism, Asylum Seekers and Migrant Workers Support Groups, several trade unions and unemployed workers. At the Rally there were many trade union and campaign stalls.An excellent variety of free music followed from bands as diverse as: Claire Mooney, Alun Parry, The Score, Toxteth Rebel, Alliance and Sargasso Township.
Geoffrey Brown, Secretary of Manchester Trades Union Council, commented: “This is the deepest recession in 70 years, workers across Britain are angry and concerned. We want the right to work for all, including refugees, migrant workers and people coming to this country seeking asylum”. New Workers were sold throughout and NCP leaflets distributed.