May 1, 2009

Workers of the world march on May Day

Friday 01 May 2009 - Morning Star Online

NOT FORGOTTEN: Workers in Turkey honouring fallen comrades at a site that had been off limits.

Millions rallied around the globe on Friday to affirm the importance of working-class solidarity in the face of mass lay-offs and billion-dollar bailouts for bosses.

In socialist Cuba, hundreds of thousands flocked to the May Day parade through Havana's Revolution Square, demanding that Washington end its cruel blockade and return five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters who have been locked up in the US since 2001.

Almost 2,000 representatives of social, solidarity and workers' movements from 80 countries took part in this year's festivities, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the revolution and the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Cuban Workers Federation.

In Turkey - which only last week declared international labour day a public holiday - unions held a major rally at a previously banned site where dozens died during a May Day demonstration three decades ago, chanting: "Long live May 1st."

Police attacked leftwingers and detained at least 26.

Hundreds of thousands marched peacefully through the streets of France as traditional May Day rallies became a focus for anger over factory closures, job cuts and the right-wing government's drive to hoist costs of the crisis onto the backs of working people.

Union leaders described the day as "historic," as all trade unions marched as a united front for the first time on May Day since the second world war.

In Berlin and Hamburg, thousands of trade unionists took part in peaceful rallies but some demonstrators threw bottles and stones at the 5,000 riot police who were on duty and five cars were torched.

Police said that 48 officers had been hurt and 57 people detained.

In Greece, transport strikes disrupted bus, train and ferry services as well as flights by Greek carrier Olympic Airlines, while police used flash grenades to disperse anarchists after attacks on banks and traffic cameras in Athens.

Communists led rallies in Moscow, carrying Soviet flags and chanting: "Where's the money, Dima" and "Where's the money, Vova" - using diminutives of the first names of President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov told a large crowd in Red Square: "The government must not squander money on support for big business and oligarchs."

In Italy, union leaders shifted May Day rallies from major cities to the earthquake-stricken town of L'Aquila as a mark of solidarity with thousands who lost their jobs after last month's quake.

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe joined senior Congress of South African Trade Unions and Communist Party officials at a mass rally in Hammanskraal, where they spoke on the theme of "consolidating working-class power in defence of our revolutionary movement for decent work.

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