Partisan №2

Their May Day and Ours

The origins of May Day go back to the struggle for the eight-hour day. May 1st, also known as International Workers Day, was chosen to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket Affair, where striking workers were shot down by the Chicago Police. As workers rally to the streets on this May Day in 2011 to celebrate hard fought historical struggles against the capitalist system of exploitation and oppression, the proletarian classes also reaffirm their commitment to revolutionary struggle for Communism.

In Canada as in the U.S., the bourgeoisie have never recognized May Day as a public holiday. Instead, in the 1890s, they proclaimed the first Monday of September as “Labour Day” with the objective of erasing the revolutionary significance of May Day from people’s history. Unfortunately, most of the big trade unions followed the lead of the bourgeoisie and replaced celebration of May Day with non-militant parade on Labour Day. During the hot period of the 1970s, the trade unions embraced the militant tradition of May Day in Québec, however, today they are back to organizing dull and insipid events that look more a parade than real demos.

A few years ago, the militant tactics of May Day reappeared in the U.S. as it was reclaimed by migrant sectors of the working class. Huge demonstrations gathering hundreds of thousands of people were held to demand equal rights for migrant workers, who represent a significant portion of the working class in that country.

In Canada, a new tradition is developing that connects May Day with the struggle of the international proletariat. This year, Montréal workers are celebrating the fourth annual Anti-Capitalist demonstration, which gathers more people each year. Organized by the Anti-Capitalist Convergence, the demo calls working people to “follow the example of the angry people of Tunisia, Egypt and Greece.” As the rallying cry for the march explains, “Here, just like there, against capitalism, against all forms of oppression, for a better life, we have every reason to rise up!” This demonstration is supported by the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), who have played a key role in organizing it from the beginning. (Fore more information, visit www.clac2010.net.)

In Toronto, there are two demonstrations. One is led by the May 1 Movement (M1M), a coalition of anti-capitalist working class organizations. The other is organized by No One Is Illegal and is calling for “Status for All” migrant labourers. The two marches will begin separately but will converge together in solidarity. For more information on both marches, visit www.may-1.org and www.toronto.nooneisillegal.org.

In Ottawa, supporters of this newspaper will be attending a march on Parliament Hill in the afternoon and a benefit for USW 1005 at Avant Garde bar at 5pm. While the Ottawa events are not officially anti-capitalist, many of those attending and waving their red flags will be calling for the overthrow of capitalism! Further information is available at: www.uswa1005.ca.

In Québec City, supporters of the RCP will take part in a march organized by local trade unions and community groups against the economic policies of the Charest government (more info at reseauforum.org).

Significantly, there will be a May 1st demonstration in Kingston, Central Ontario. On the eve of another federal election, the march will condemn bourgeois politics as a “spectator sport” and protest “against the imperial capitalist system and all forms of oppression.”


For the bourgeoisie, May Day is business as usual. They don’t want us workers to reclaim our history. They don’t want us to take into the streets —except for union-marshaled parades that won’t cause them any trouble. They don’t want us to connect with our brothers and sisters in other countries, who are rebelling against the crises and injustices caused by capitalism, as we have seen recently in European, North African and Middle Eastern countries.

The truth is the bourgeoisie fears us. On May 1st, let’s show them they are right to do so!


May Day presents us with an opportunity to bring to the fore the struggles of toiling women, both in the imperialist countries and in the imperialized countries of the Third World.

From the 146 female garment workers who lost their lives in a New York factory fire in 1911, to the Filipino women who are forced, due to poverty, to leave their families and toil day and night in the homes of the wealthy to the exhausted mothers who must beg for the most underpaid and exploitative jobs, it is easy to see that women are the most oppressed sector of the international working class.

Women make up the bulk of the precarious and informal labour markets. According to Women and Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), in most developing countries, women constitute more than two thirds of those working in the informal economy, where job security, pensions, benefits are virtually nonexistent and physical, sexual and psychological assault is rife. Under patriarchal culture, women are also primarily responsible for the care and wellbeing of the family. The United Nations document, “World’s Women 2010,” reports that “women spend at least twice as much time as men on domestic work, and when all work —paid and unpaid— is considered, women work longer hours than men.”

Even though International Women’s Day is celebrated every 8th of March, May Day should equally incite recognition of the labour and struggles of working class women; for there can be no class struggle without the women’s struggle.

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