Mayday

Mayday had its origins in the executions of anarchist union organisers in the USA - we look at this history and report on modern celebrations of Mayday as a workers holiday

The Anarchist Origins of Mayday

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In 1887 four Chicago anarchists were executed. A fifth cheated the hangman by killing himself in prison. Three more were to spend 6 years in prison until pardoned by Governor Altgeld who said the trial that convicted them was characterised by "hysteria, packed juries and a biased judge". The state had, in the words of the prosecution put "Anarchy .. on trial" and hoped their deaths would also be the death of the anarchist idea.

[Print out and distribute a PDF leaflet of this text]

The Dublin EU Mayday protests of 2004 - The Ghost of Mayday Past

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Compared to many other European countries May Day demonstrations have always been small in Ireland, even in the 1980's when the Stalinist left was much more influential and the unions were much more powerful. By the mid-1990's, with the old left in complete disarray and the union bureaucrats more focussed on partnership with the state and the bosses rather than workers' rights, May Day had become a fairly underwhelming event.

So, given this dismal tradition why were the explicitly libertarian May Day events in 2004, comparatively speaking, such a success? Of course there was the impetus of a major European Union summit but to understand why anarchists were in a position to organise big May Day events calls for a brief examination of the development of libertarian ideas and practices in Ireland over the past few years.

Mayday 2017 in Dublin - video & photography of the march and anarchist bloc

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Mayday 2017 saw the annual Dublin Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) organised march through Dublin. The theme of the march was the struggle for housing, with it being led off by housing action groups including the Irish Housing Network. Other campaign groups on the march included Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland, Abortion Rights Campaign, Sex Workers Alliance and a range of other campaign groups, unions and left groups.

Mayday: Building A New Workers Movement - International Anarchist statement

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The WSM is one of the signatures on this international anarchist statement produced for Mayday 2014 involving 8 groups in 7 countries at time of publication.  This is part of our ongoing involvement in the Anarkismo.net network involving anarchist organisations in some 30 countries.

 

PDF version of the text & graphic

A migrant reports on Mayday in Sydney

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A few thousand took part in the annual mayday parade in Sydney this year with organisers claiming it was the largest in years.  This years event theme was a 'a proud past, a fighting future' which certainly matched the range of trade union banners on display and political groups of all shades including the James Connolly Society involving recent Irish migrants.

Mayday in Belfast in Photos

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Around 2000 people took part in the Mayday march in Belfast on Sat 4th May.  The WSM were on the march and our photographer prepared the photo slideshow below, you will find more photos from Belfast Mayday in our Facebook album

2013 May day in Dublin with text of WSM leaflet

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Mayday in Dublin save a collection of historic trade union banners and the Fintan Lalor pipe band lead over 1,000 people from the Garden of Remembrance to Liberty Hall. The march is organised by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) and featured ten banners created for the ITGWU by the artist Jer O’Leary with images of militant syndicalist trade union leaders  Jim Larkin and James Connolly and scenes from the 1913 Lockout.

Dublin May Day - A Call to March with the Anti-Authoritarian block

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The WSM are calling for people to march with us on an anti-authoritarian block for this year’s May Day march which is happening on the day itself, Tuesday 1st May, assembling in Parnell Square from 18.30hrs.

The Dublin Council of Trade Unions are the organisers of this event, and this year the theme is the anti-household tax, which has seen the start of a movement against the presiding wisdom of the 1% and the government for stringent austerity. People have seized onto the idea that it is not alright for us to continue to pick up the tab for the bosses, the developers, the banks, and the rich.

May Day 2011 Celebrations in Cork

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This Sunday, the international celebration of the working class was marked in Cork with the now-traditional May Day march organised by the Independent Workers Union. Cork WSM also marked the occasion by hosting a pair of talks after the march on May Day-related topics at Solidarity Books on Douglas Street. As a finale to the day's festivities, a fundraising cabaret was held for the union and the bookshop that night at the Spailpín Fánach on South Main Street.

Why We Celebrate Mayday

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The struggle against capitalism and authority is constant but each year on May Day the labour movement takes time out to celebrate its history and achievements. Rather than dwell on the hardships of struggle we take to the streets and remember what it is we are aiming for - the emancipation of our class. Climbing a mountain means paying close attention to the ground you walk but it’s important to look up now and again in order to focus on exactly where it is you’re headed.

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