Where there is no vision, the people perish.—Proverbs 29:18
The history of May 1 as a workers’ holiday is intimately tied to the generations-long movement for the eight-hour day, to immigrant workers, to police brutality and repression of the labour movement, and to the long tradition of American anarchism.
This year, International Workers Day arrives with more than 250 million of the world’s workers unemployed. The UN predicts that up to more than 70 million more could be thrown into the streets by year’s end.
May Day protest actions in the United States are planned across the region, state and nation, but many eyes are on where organizers say “traditional labour and precarious workers will strike together” at Occupy’s call. Strikes, walk-outs, marches and rallies are part of Occupy May Day plans. Evidently, there would be no ending to more mass protests and industrial actions.
We boast that we are and are supposed to be a democratic country and, as such, the force should not belong to the corporations, nor to the politicians and the media. It should belong to the people.
After years of devastation in the clutches of the capitalist governance, masses of people are discovering their own power to change the world. The Arab Spring has given birth to a global movement of Occupiers that has revived the politics of class struggle and revolution for the 21st century. Instead of the cutbacks, unemployment and repression that our rulers offer us, solidarity in struggle shows that “another world is possible.” This crisis is worldwide. Workers of the World, Unite! One Big Union!
“A global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiter.” This is how Malcolm X characterized the international scene in 1965. But the description seems even more apt today. The contrast between the profits of the bosses and the plight of the workers is even more stark today.
Bailing out the rich doesn’t help the people. Putting profits before the needs of the workers, employed and unemployed, is just deepening the suffering and the economic crisis. After all, wasn’t it capitalist greed that brought this crisis on in the first place?
In recent years, Europe has seen a dramatic increase in precarious work due to certain factors, such as, the crisis of capitalism and the unbridled greed of multinational corporations. Without any exception, we are witnessing a deluge of such abusive exploitation of the working population in our community. Workers exploited through precarious conditions, such as; low wages, few or no benefits, no job security, are not ‘rats.’ We demand that the government, instead of bailing out the banks, put up the money to guarantee everyone a decent job or income, our basic rights!
Hopefully, the traditional protest march would encompass the vast majority of workers, whether in employment or not. We must not remain behind, although I do not see any justifiable reason for celebrating, while our workers’ unions are up front in their denunciations of these harsh and cruel measures of austerity that are breaking the backbone of our nation. Corporations are laying off workers while demanding deep concessions from those still employed, while governments are cutting jobs and slashing services. Corporations are running to wherever they can pay the least and profit the most. What is there to celebrate in today’s pitiful situation with capitalism in its highest imperialist stance?
Today, capitalism is in a serious crisis and is exposing every aspect of its barbaric, brutal and shameful mien, sequestrating all working class rights and achievements. We must not let banks steal our children’s future. May Day should be a lesson to all future generations supporting the principles of the workers’ gains. Let’s reclaim May Day. In San Francisco, they used to say that if you didn’t like the history we have so far, go out and make some that you do like.
Once, the labour movement had been decimated and co-opted, but there is still a spirit of defiance that is rising to the surface once again. It could be hard to believe that we, as European Union members, have the power in the society we now inhabit. We may feel declawed and powerless. If we think only of what we, as individuals, can do, then certainly we feel overwhelmed in an organisation as big as the E.U. However, there are lots of us, literally millions all around us. We don’t have to accept any tyranny. We do not deserve poverty, destitution, unemployment, exploitation and degradation, all caused through the greed of the capitalist elite. What we need is to make our voices heard. We need to make noise. If we are too afraid to say “NO”, we deserve to live our lives under the heel of those who own the “apple cart” we seek to upset and the “boat” we need to rock.
On this May 1st, let us raise our fists in solidarity with workers who are fighting bosses and governments everywhere! May Day should never become Loyalty Day to any government that does not respect and strive to ameliorate workers’ livelihood.
Don’t miss this chance to meet and join, even perhaps in spirit, hundreds of others like you, committed fighters against a system of greed, racism, war and oppression.
Today is the day workers around the world celebrate workers’ solidarity and our ongoing struggle to win fairness on the jobs and social and economic justice in human society.
Whatever you would be doing, spare a thought for the events and sacrifices that gave rise to this important event. Please don’t forget!
And so today on May Day, let us recommit ourselves to a more just future.
We must remain united. And today we are all united in ANGER and DEFIANCE!
Workers of the world, awaken!
Rise in all your splendid might
Take the wealth that you are making,
It belongs to you by right.
No one will for bread be crying
We’ll have freedom, love and health,
When the grand red flag is flying
In the Workers’ Commonwealth.
Joseph M. Cachia resides in Vittoriosa, Malta.