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Saturday, 12 March 2011

In defence of International Workers' Day

Alongside the revolutions in the Middle East, the traditions of May Day marches and the need for a socialist alternative to cuts and poverty, there is an additional reason to support and celebrate International Workers' Day in 2011 - David Cameron wants to cancel it!

Bob Severn
Prime minister Cameron and his Con-Dem government claim they want to move the bank holiday away from the first Monday in May to 'boost tourism'.

However, the front runners for Cameron's replacement bank holiday are St. George's Day in March or a UK Day to 'celebrate' Admiral Nelson's 1805 Battle of Trafalgar victory. It seems Dave wants to replace internationalism with nationalism!

In truth, Tories have looked at abolishing the May Day bank holiday and its recognition of International Workers' Day ever since the day was officially marked by the then Labour government in 1978.

International Workers Day has been celebrated worldwide since the late 19th century. Its origins lie in the first US-wide general strike that took place on 1 May 1886, when workers demanded a maximum eight-hour working day. Many workers won shortened work hours without any cuts in their pay. Other workers made the highest sacrifice when the US government and police responded, especially at the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago.

Following a call by the socialist Second International's first congress, demonstrations took place across the world on 1 May 1890 in commemoration of the workers who were killed. The following congress agreed that the day would become an annual event.

You can help celebrate International Workers' Day in 2011 by supporting the Socialist, the paper that fights all cuts with a May Day greeting.

The Socialist does not just report the battles taking place against cuts and oppression in Britain and worldwide. It shows the lessons of past struggles for today. These include the 1983-87 Liverpool Labour council that won £60 million of extra funding from Margaret Thatcher's Tory government. Another example is the anti-poll tax struggle which, with 18 million people refusing to pay, led to Thatcher's resignation as prime minister in 1990 and to the abandonment of the regressive tax. But the paper also puts forward the socialist alternative that puts people before profits and bankers' bonuses.

Celebrate International Workers' Day and help the Socialist continue and expand its reporting with a May Day greeting from your trade union branch, committee, workplace group, anti-cuts campaign, student group, Youth Fight for Jobs group or Socialist Party branch, or as an individual.

email editors@socialistparty.org.uk or phone 020 8988 8781 for more information or to give your greeting. Greetings paid for by 8 April can be doubled in display size for no extra cost. The deadline for greeting messages is 13 April.

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