The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 10th May 2019

Bristol workers’ march on May Day

by New Worker correspondent

WORKERS marched through Bristol’s main shopping streets on May Day to a rally at Castle Park. There the crowd heard union leaders and speakers from the broader movement chart the way forwards with the prospect of a snap general election on the horizon. Bristol’s Kurdish solidarity network brought a message of support and asked for the rally’s solidarity with thousands of people across the world who are on hunger strike calling for an end to the isolation of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, who has spent 20 years in Turkish jails.

Steve Turner, Assistant General Secretary of Unite the Union, opened by exclaiming how fantastic it was to be holding a demonstration for May Day on May Day, and went on to say that it is really important to recognise and remind everyone that May Day is Labour Day.

Steve reminded those at the rally that 133 years ago, on 1st May, Chicago mounted police tore apart striking workers and mowed down people. Many workers died. May Day was consequentially chosen as labour day to remember their sacrifice.

He said that we must never forget our history and spoke about the struggles taking place in Bristol at the same time as the police attack on workers in Chicago. Particular mention was made of the Bristol gas workers, mainly women, fighting for an eight-hour-day. They went on strike along with others in London and Manchester, and won the eight-hour day and better rates of pay.

Organised labour has always recognised that as individuals we can do very little to improve our conditions, whether that be at work, a decent home, a health service, free education, an end to fuel poverty and pensioner poverty, an end to zero-hour contracts, or the raising of collective bargaining to replace the pittance of a minimum wage.Steve said that we must take these battles into the political arena as well. For all those people who feel abandoned by politics, not listened to, it’s our duty to fight against the far right. He asked everybody at the rally to take a message back into their workplaces to defeat the rise of the very dangerous, divisive, hateful and spiteful message of division and racism. Take the message back into your homes, into your workplaces, onto the buses and back into your communities that it’s only when we’re well organised, when we’re standing in unity together, black and white, men and women, gay and straight — it doesn’t matter who you are — the struggle is your struggle of working-class politics to better and improve society for all of us.

He concluded that under a Corbyn-led Labour government, that’s exactly what we will strive to do. It’s not about the individual, it’s about all of us winning the politics of ideas to build a better society, a fairer economy, a better politics that engages and involves all of us in building a better fairer society and a better world.