International Workers Day - demonstrations, actions and protests held around 1st May 2010.
With the national elections less than a week away, Mayday celebrations to remember the Haymarket massacre of 1887 (and in support of worker's movements internationally) took place in many towns and cities across the UK. Despite that fact that the authorities had banned the planned march in Coventry, a spontaneous event took place marching from the Council House to Millenium Square, with a No Borders slogan reading 'Asylum is not a crime' at the head of the procession. In Nottingham, hundreds joined a procession which managed to overcome the City Council’s bureaucratic machinery. Several hundred people joined a march in Chesterfield and 400 braved the rain for Dublin's march which ended with a speech by Arthur Scargill. In Bradford people gathered on Infirmary Fields and in Manchester up to 200 joined a march, and enjoyed a firework display, and in Edinburgh about 100 joined a rally at West Princes Street Gardens.
In London, trade unionists and Communists marched from Clerkenwell Green to a rally in Trafalger Square. The four horsemen of the apopcalypse, last seen out at the G20 protests last year, were central to the 'Election meltdown' which saw effigies of party leaders dragged from their party HQs to Parliament Square for public execution, before an estimated crowd of 500. While some stayed to set up a Demockracy village in the square, many others were led to a tunnel by the samba band, for a Rave Against the Machine.
Mayday, International Workers' Day, fell on a Saturday this year, and was celebrated in Nottingham by a march from Victoria Park to Speakers' Corner in the centre of town and back. It was followed by a rally with speakers from local campaigns and music and dance. The theme of this year's event was fighting against the public sector cuts that all of the major parties are planning to bail the country out of the recession. It was attended by over 100 trade unionists, socialists, anarchists and environmentalists.
There was also a rally at Derby Silk Mill on the Saturday, attended by hundreds of trade unionists. The region's biggest Mayday celebrations were held in Chesterfield on bank holiday Monday.
In the run up to Mayday, Nottingham Free School held a discussion on the issues surrounding Mayday, such as the gendered nature of work, critiques of paid work and the workplace as a site of resistance to capitalism. These discussion events are set to continue.
Newswire: Mayday edition of the Nottingham Sparrow | Notts Indypendent: New Nottingham community newsletter | Chesterfield Mayday 2010 | Nottingham Mayday 2010 | Nottingham Free School's May Day Discussion | The Future Of Protest In Nottingham : Whose streets? Our streets!
Previous feature: Whose streets? Our streets?
Mayday, 1st May, is a day of anti-capitalist workers' struggle. Traditionally, Nottingham's contribution has been a march through the town centre and a rally of anti-capitalist campaigns and agitators. For the past few years, this gathering has taken place in Brewhouse Yard near Nottingham castle. However, this year the City Council have been putting all manner of obstacles in the organisers' way.
Permission for a rally in Brewhouse Yard was refused because "there were going to be Robin Hood activities in other places"! Permission was finally granted for the rally in Victoria Park on the St Ann's end of town but only subject to restrictive conditions such as displaying the Council logo on all publicity, displaying Council banners and was subject to a charge... all for using a 'public' park. In addition, organisers are having to pay to get roads closed for the march.
All of this has led one of the organisers to question whether the streets and public spaces of Nottingham really do belong to the people or are just an extension of the City Council's private fiefdom. These restrictions have very serious impacts on people's freedom to protest and assemble, as demonstrated by recent police crackdowns on festivals, such as the Strawberry Fair in Cambridge.
MayDay rally and march from 11am, Victoria Park, Bath Street.