On May 7, several members of the US-based National Network on Cuba (NNOC) who had participated in the May Day Brigade, were detained and harassed by US Customs and Border Patrol upon arrival to the United States from Cuba. The NNOC released a public statement on the evening of May 7, emphasizing that “In face of persecution, we reaffirm our right to travel to Cuba. Solidarity is not a crime – the US blockade is!” They added that several of the people who were detained by CBP also had their electronics seized and some were even threatened with jail time. The harassment of their brigade members comes just days after over a dozen members of the International Peoples’ Assembly delegation to Cuba were similarly detained and questioned at the Miami International Airport and the Newark Liberty International Airport. Other organizations that traveled to Cuba for the May Day activities such as LA US Hands Off Cuba, faced similar treatment by border officials.
This year’s May Day celebration in Cuba was interrupted by severe storms that knocked out electricity in much of the country. Authorities had no choice but to postpone the traditional mass marches. But for over 150 young grassroots organizers from the United States who had traveled to the country to mark the holiday, this turn of events was just more reason to deepen their efforts to end the US-imposed blockade of the country. Miya Tada, a brigade participant from New York, explained how this showed that “the biggest obstacle the Cuban people are facing is the repression and economic warfare of our own government, and that just inspires me to further the struggle against the blockade back in the United States.”
May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day, is celebrated around the world by labor unions, socialist parties, and anarchists. May Day’s origins go back to the 1886 Haymarket Affair, when hundreds of thousands of US workers walked off the job, and 40,000 went on strike in Chicago for an eight-hour workday. Despite its origins, May Day is largely unknown in the US today. TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez joins Rattling the Bars for a discussion on the history of May Day, and how the persecution of organizers in the wake of the Haymarket Massacre highlights the importance of extending solidarity from the labor movement to the fight to abolish the prison industrial complex.
International Workers’ Day celebrations were held in different countries of the West Asia and North Africa region on Monday, May 1, with trade unions and left parties organizing mass demonstrations. Marking the day, workers raised slogans of unity and revolution against capitalist exploitation. Paying homage to the martyrs of Chicago, Tunisia’s largest trade union movement, the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), issued a statement on behalf of its general secretary Noureddine Al-Tabouni. It said that the UGTT was founded “on the principles of labour solidarity and victory of the interests of the workers and general public in all parts of the world regardless of race, gender, color and belief.”
Workers from Japan to France took to the street on Monday for the largest May Day demonstrations since Covid-19 restrictions pushed people inside three years ago. Marchers expressed frustration with both their nations' policies—such as French President Emmanuel Macron's raising of the retirement age in March—and global issues like the rising cost of living and the climate crisis. "The price of everything has increased except for our wages. Increase our minimum wages!" one activist speaking in Seoul told the crowd, as The Associated Press reported. "Reduce our working hours!" "The price of everything has increased except for our wages."
May 1 is celebrated around the world, and unofficially in the United States, as International Workers' Day. In honor of this, Clearing the FOG speaks with two workers who are fighting for their rights and dignity. SN 'Yeager,' a spokesperson for the Graduate Employees Organization Local 3550, speaks about the conditions that brought them to go on strike at the University of Michigan (now in its sixth week), the tremendous outpouring of support for their struggle and how the University is retaliating against them. Billy Randel of the Truckers Movement for Justice, which is holding a day-long protest at the Department of Transportation today, speaks about the difficulties truckers are facing in the US and their demands that all workers are paid for all hours worked and greater transparency in the industry.
International Workers Day, also known as May Day, reminds us of an anecdote about the 1917 Russian Revolution regarding the working class. At the time, the Bolshevik Party, trained and led by V.I. Lenin was in the process of seizing power. An anti-Bolshevik intellectual was arguing with a Bolshevik worker and bringing up all the complexities of running a government and of deserting Russia’s allies in the great slaughter of World War I. “I see it this way,” said the Bolshevik worker. “The bosses are on one side. We’re on the other side. If we don’t take power, they will.” The worker was right. Bosses, that is capitalists, are on one side. Workers are on the other side.
I saw with my own eyes the celebration of worker solidarity and the indefatigable defense of the Cuban Revolution as waves of workers walked with signs and costumes and Cuban flags past the iconic images of Ernesto “Che” Guevara on the Ministry of the Interior building with the words he may be most famous for accompanying his image, “Hasta La Victoria Siempre,” or “Always onwards onto victory,” and another of Camilo Cienfuegos on the adjacent Telecommunications Building with the words “Vas Bien, Fidel,” or “You are doing well, Fidel,” underneath the image. Any picture or video captured of the May Day 2022 parade would reflect an unabated stream of masses of people holding banners, waving flags or scarves, and dancing to a vibrant live band between the billboards on one building at the entrance to the Plaza that read “Cuba vive y trabaja (Cuba lives and works)” and the imposing 109-meter tall José Marti memorial that overlooks the plaza.
Most young people in South Africa do not have a job and are, under current circumstances, unlikely to ever have one. For years, deindustrialization and the collapse of mining laid waste to unionized jobs. Now state austerity is hacking away at the public sector. Many of the few new jobs that are being created are poorly paid, precarious and not well unionized. Some of this can be ascribed to powerful global forces that are difficult for any state to resist. And the deep structural features of our society were built by colonialism and are so entrenched that they cannot easily be changed. But there is no doubt that the ANC’s poor economic policy choices have also been a significant part of the failure to build a viable economy. This has been compounded by the appalling state of public education, the collapse of a significant part of the ANC into a violent kleptocracy, the decay of infrastructure and a series of damaging events such as the brutally enforced hard Covid lockdowns, the winter riots and the recent floods in KwaZulu-Natal.
On May 1, in the presence of heavy police force, demolition squads of Chandigarh swooped on huts and houses of colony number 4, Industrial Area Phase 1. The homes and hearths of nearly 5000 people, all of them from the poorest sections of one of the most affluent cities of India, were destroyed within a few hours. Many of those removed have been living in this 40 year old colony for decades and have never known any other home. While this action would have been condemned under any circumstances, there are three particular reasons why this was excessively insensitive and ill-advised at this time. Firstly, this region has been passing through heat-wave conditions in the recent past and weather forecasts are for even more hot weather in the coming days.
This commentary will be published several days before the celebration of International Workers’ Day, on this May 1, 2022. It has been 136 years since that Saturday in 1886 when 200,000 workers in Chicago went on strike to demand the 8-hour workday; and every celebration of this day always makes us think. No longer was that strike, as in previous history, a battle for the sovereignty of a nation-state. This was a battle for social justice. In Cuba, many years later, we are fighting the same battle. But we are doing it from a Revolution in power, and we are fighting not to lose the social justice we have conquered, and to conquer more. The risk of losing it comes from the economic difficulties, and also from the possible wrong solutions to those same difficulties.
War, repression, and imperialism characterize the objective plight of billions of humans still gripped by the vicious colonial-capitalist world system. May 1 is the day laboring classes claim for themselves as International Workers' Day to reaffirm the struggle against the dehumanization and degradation of the global capitalist order kept in place by state violence and war. May 1 also is the deadline the United States agreed to last year to pull out of Afghanistan to end the suffering of that nation of workers and peasants. It also is the day the workers and poor of Haiti have chosen to revolt against the puppet government imposed on them by the Biden-Harris administration, a duo that has proven in its first 100 days its commitment to Black life does not extend beyond domestic public-relations stunts.