Innumerable rallies, marches, demonstrations and meetings took place all over the world on May Day 2013. From Jakarta to New York, from Caracas to Dhaka, millions of workers came on to the streets to celebrate their unity and to reaffirm their vow to end the exploitation of man by man.
Over 55,000 workers participated in a demonstration in Jakarta, Indonesia, reported to bQe the biggest May Day rally in that country in recent years. Workers demanded that their rights to organise and fight be restored, and that they be given better wages and benefits.
At May Day actions across Bangladesh, workers militantly demonstrated for workers’ rights in the wake of the Savar workplace massacre and demanded justice for those killed in the factory collapse, enforcement of safety standards, higher wages and an end to threats and harassment against union organisers.
Thousands of garment workers also took to the streets of Cambodia, expressing solidarity with the workers in Bangladesh and demanding that the garment industry both in Bangladesh and Cambodia increase minimum wages and improve workplace safety.
In Taiwan, over 20,000 workers staged a protest against pension “reforms” on May Day. Tens of thousands of workers rallied at Seoul City Hall Plaza in South Korea on May Day, demanding an extensive revision of the labour law and urging that the government provide temporary workers employment stability by converting their status to full-time workers.
In North Korea (DPRK), May Day was marked by workers across the country in their workplaces and institutions, who celebrated together with officials of the government and of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
May Day demonstrations took place in at least 85 cities across the United States. The main demands were for immigration reform, to affirm the rights of “undocumented workers” and grant them citizenship, as part of defending the rights of all workers. Some of the largest actions took place in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, with thousands taking to the streets. Many signs and banners expressed solidarity with the Bangladeshi garment workers.
In Canada, May Day events were organised in Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax, Toronto, Windsor, Hamilton, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and many other towns. Just a few days prior to May Day, over 50,000 people took part in a mass action in Montreal on April 27, 2013 to oppose the Harper government’s anti-social employment reforms. The workers vowed to defend the rights of all, including those who had migrated into Canada from elsewhere, under the slogan “No one is Illegal!” They vowed to uphold the rights of the native peoples of Canada and expressed their solidarity with workers all over the world, including those killed in the workplace in Bangladesh.
A one million-strong May Day march took place in Havana, Cuba, culminating in a rally in Revolution Square. In his address to the rally, Cuban President Rául Castro dedicated the day to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
Rallies were organised in more than 80 cities in Spain; the actions vigorously opposed the economic policies which are wrecking the country.
President Nicolás Maduro presided over the May Day activities in Caracas, Venezuela. The minimum wage in Venezuela has been increased by 20% on April 30, 2013, with a further 10 per cent increase in the minimum wage planned for September 2013, and another one in November of 5-10 per cent, indexed on inflation. A new labour law comes into effect on May 7, 2013 which, amongst other things, provides for 25 weeks post-natal maternal leave, for some paternal leave, outlaws unfair dismissal, outlaws sub-contracted or outsourced labour, reduces trial periods to a maximum of one month, re-establishes a retirement bonus and reduces the working week to 40 hours.
At the May Day celebrations in La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, President Evo Morales announced a bill to increase the old age pension and a law to protect mine workers.
May Day demonstrations across Britain were full of banners representing the international unity of the working class. The spirit was one of demonstrating the unity in action of workers and oppressed people to fight for a change in the direction of society, for a genuine alternative where the people are the decision-makers.
In Ireland, workers commemorated the centenary of the historic “1913 Lockout”. They marched in demonstrations holding up ten historic banners featuring images from the 1913 Lockout, a heroic page in the history of the Irish working class.
Millions of people took part in rallies and other May Day events in cities all across Russia. Vigorous May Day demonstrations were held in Berlin and other cities of Germany, while over 10,000 people participated in May Day events in Switzerland. Lively May Day demonstrations and events were organised in Paris and several cities of France.
Over 10,000 workers participated in a march in Lisbon, Portugal, protesting against the attacks on them in the name of “austerity”, which has been imposed on them since a 78-billion-euro bailout agreement was signed with the European Union, the IMF and the European Central Bank in May 2011.
In Istanbul, workers were banned from demonstrating at Taksim square, a traditional rallying point for May Day in the city and they fought back valiantly as riot police fired tear gas and water cannons at them.
May Day in Athens was marked by a general strike to denounce the brutal austerity measures being imposed on the Greek people. Workers took a stand against attempts to divide them on a racist basis -- the slogans on the banner above read: “Greek and foreign workers united” and “Solidarity with the immigrants.”
At least 25 demonstrations took place across South Africa under the slogan, “A united working class for a radical economic transformation.”