Continuing it’s tradition associated with ‘radicalism’ London’s May Day kicked off on Friday, May 1st with a rally in Clerkenwell Green. Conscious of the fact that the event was taking place one week before a General Election banners from many Trade Unions, Campaigning groups, and political organisations - both national and International - were raised in solidarity against a ‘ConDem’ Government whose “austerity” policies had plunged the majority of people into economic and social deprivation.
The march, rousingly led by “The Big Red Band” playing many familiar ‘socialist songs’ wound its way through London’s streets to Trafalgar Square. Other groups joined in on the way and people gathered to welcome the hundreds of marchers at Trafalgar Square, including the workers on strike against the privatisation of services at the National Gallery.
The granite base of Nelson’s ‘Victory’ Column was turned into the platform for speakers from Trade Unions and campaigns to address everyone gathered in the square. This year the rally was addressed by: Paul Nowak (Asst Gen Sec TUC), Mary Turner (Pres. GMB), John Hilary (War on Want), Matt Wrack (Gen Sec FBU), Chris Baugh (Asst Gen Sec PCS) and representatives from migrant community organisations The Rally was ‘chaired’ by Eve Turner from London’s Trade Councils (GLATUC) and Tony Lennon from BECTU and recently elected President of South East Region of the TUC (SERTUC).
PCS strikers from the National Gallery also used the occasion to draw attention to creeping privatisation of our national galleries and cultural centres as well as how the continuing cuts are shredding the cultural fabric of the nation.
The statement under which every one marched this year was:
“The first May Day celebrations fought for the 8 hour working day - we still have the same call from both directions, ending ‘zero hours’ contracts at one end and too long hours at the other. We celebrate what was won by workers’ campaign over many years - things like the NHS, good education for all, good pensions, affordable housing - all now under attack by the austerity agenda. We carry on the fight for a better life for workers - to end the “1%” screwing the rest of us.”