The Guardian • Issue #2098


May Day –Dance because we need to

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2098

International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, can be quite a nostalgic event. Workers remember past struggles and victories. We celebrate old achievements, like the weekend, and the 8-hour day. It’s good to remember important goals that we’ve kicked, especially in a country where working class victories are downplayed or ignored. The Australian government puts way more money and energy into commemorating a failed attack on Türkiye than it does into remembering the 8-hour day movement, a huge international campaign which began in this country. We need to remember and celebrate wins like that, but that’s not why we need May Day.

When we attend May Day events, we are marching for the present. Look around you at your workmates, your family, your friends. That’s why we’re marching. Sure your friends, family and workmates all seem okay now, in 2024. Also, we’ve had the weekend, sick leave, and overtime for a long time now. Why march for it now? Do we still need unions and other workers?

We do. Capitalism is a live and moving target. It is not a dragon that was tamed years ago. That weekend that feels so natural? It’s under attack from employer groups who never ever stop attacking the idea of penalty rates, not to mention the right to disconnect. Timid Labor attempts to limit your boss’ access to your time with email and text messages were ferociously resisted.

Capital isn’t just making your days off less fun, it’s also attacking your health. Workers are still dying on the job, especially truck drivers and building workers. If you’re not working in those areas, cast your mind back to the 2019-2020 Australian bushfire season. Those fires, the worst on record, cost this country around $4 billion, and killed at least 34 people outright. Remember spending two months watching the air quality every day, the way you usually check the weather? The smoke from those bushfires was responsible for more than 400 deaths.

What does that have to do with May Day? The fires were directly connected to Climate Change. This country could do a lot about Climate Change, by reducing our carbon emissions. We don’t do that. Instead, we make token efforts and do some good things, but nothing that will upset the big companies that are making money from making Climate Change worse. Those companies, busy producing and using fossil fuels, won’t stop because we ask nicely. They will only stop if they absolutely have to.

The CPA isn’t reacting to the climate crisis by despairing. We are reacting by working even harder for working class control of this country.

On May Day, we march to assert that workers, united, are stronger than the bosses. We’re the majority. We should be running things, but we aren’t.

Look around the world. In Cuba, people poured onto the streets in their millions to dance and celebrate May Day.

We hope your May Day was a good one this year. Please join the Communist Party of Australia in our efforts to keep the spirit of May Day going all year.

Let’s reclaim May 1 as the day of workers’ struggle across Australia.

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