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Mayday activites in Sheffield

ForwardSlash | 29.04.2004 19:19 | May Day 2004 | Culture | Social Struggles | Sheffield

Colonised by many a creed over time, Mayday still is a time for people across the world to celebrate there togetherness, and desires for a greater future.

The festival of Beltane has been since.. well forever. A fire festival symbolising the beginning of the season of light, a festival of fertility and of creativity with raucous fun. The May Queen would be elected to rule the crops until harvest, and the Green Man or Robin Goodfellow would be Lord of Misrule. Priests and Kings were the butt of jokes and local authority would be mocked.


This irreverence to authority was not appreciated by the state and Mayday was banned in the 1600's. As agrarian life moved into the industrial revolution traditions continued though. Sweeps dessed up as women or the aristocracy, sang songs and collected money, milk maids persuaded the dairymen to give their milk yield freely. Soot and milk bringing Mayday into the Industrial revolution.

The modern history of Mayday comes from the struggle of workers rights

Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada asserted that "eight hours shall constitute a legal day's work from and after May 1, 1886, and that we recommend to labor organizations throughout this district that they so direct their laws as to conform to this resolution".

On May Day 1947 auto workers in Paris downed tools, and marched from Republique to Concorde. The Strike Committee printed 100,000 copies of a leaflet which called for a general strike.

Mayday has always been a time of collective celebration and of resistance to power.

Its a time to question the way things are and demand something better. Isn't it time we had streets where people could walk, cycle and breathe in safety, rather than ones dominated by motor vehicles; a public transport system run for people's needs and not for profit; societies across the world where people had control over their own lives and communities rather then having things dictated by big-business and governments?

This year in Sheffield

Fight debt and financial exclusion on the Sheffield Moor, 1st May. Help promote credit unions, locally based savings and loan cooperatives which help their members save and borrow.

Members of Sheffield Social Forum and others will be raising the issue of personal and global debt on Sheffield Moor. Use Credit Unions as a local solution to personal debt.

Help grow a greener world in Abbeyfield Park Burngreave Sheffield, 2nd May

* Subsidized compost bin sale - compost display, information and advice.
* Build a solar car
* Make a recycled sculpture for display at the festival
* Help make a plastic bottle 'greenhouse'
and more ..

For information of events nationally and internationally see the events section on

or check the Schnews

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Hide the following 3 comments

More Mayday History

29.04.2004 19:29

The Workers Maypole
The Workers Maypole

More can be found on the history of Mayday here:


SSF Debt Leaflet

29.04.2004 19:35

This is the text of the debt leaflet as it stands (I guess the published one might be different):


We are protesting outside Brighthouse today because it is a company that makes massive profits by fleecing the poor. What they do is quite legal, but it is also immoral. They sell goods on credit to people who wouldn’t be able to get credit from other sources. People often end up paying double or more of the cost of the original product they buy.

They are not alone in the business of ripping off those that can least afford to be ripped off. Another company, Provident Financial, (or the Provvy) have just launched a new credit card called VANQUIS. It has an APR (annual percentage rate- the number you should always use to compare lending rates) of 64.9% as well as an annual fee of £19. This would be illegal in most countries in Europe but our Government continues to allow big business to rip off the poor. The Provident also offer doorstep loans. A typical loan would be £100 repaid at £5 a week over 30 weeks. The APR can be up to 170%. Loan sharks like this should be made illegal.


Credit Unions are locally based savings and loan cooperatives. If you save some money each week in a credit union you will soon be able to take out a small loan. The rate of interest you will be charged is very fair- for instance a loan of £100 over a year will cost about £6.50 in interest-about ten times less than the Vanquis credit card. Credit Unions are regulated and so must operate within the law. Members of the Credit Union elect the Board of Directors at the Annual General Meeting. These are volunteers who are responsible for the day to day running of the Credit Union. To find out your nearest Credit Union call 2812105

If you already have problems with Debt phone DEBTLINE on free phone 0800 8002237

IMPACT is currently working on introducing an ETHICAL LOAN COMPANY to Sheffield. This will charge far lower rates of interest than the Provvy and other doorstep loan companies. Look out for more news of this soon!

This demonstration has been brought together with the support of Sheffield Social Forum, Sheffield Green Party, Impact, Church action on Poverty and Sheffield Samba Band. Visit


Mayday event: a clarification

30.04.2004 10:37

While I won't speak for anyone else in the Sheffield SF, I have to say that the title Mayday while clearly correct by date is not actually a Mayday Event as we have come to know it.Although Mayday is a fine tradition and we should honour it, in this case, this is not a 'Mayday'(tm?) event as currently defined and which brings with it, certain connotations and often unwanted neg press, etc. It really is a co-incidence that we are doing this event on that day. The event is a broad based event with many different parties involved, inc, the church and credit unions themselves. Imo, this is quite important and historic as it is the first w/class/poverty, bread and butter,etc,protest for many years in Sheffield and may mark a sea change to focussing on local issues as well as the major international ones.

It's going to be good though and exciting, come along!