The Guardian • Issue #2098

May Day 2024

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2098
May Day event in Caloundra, 2024.

May Day event in Caloundra, 2024.

Victory Day Celebrations.

Victory Day Celebrations.

May 9 defeat of fascism commemorated

With all the recent celebrations of May Day, let’s not forget May 9, the anniversary of the defeat of fascism. Also known as Victory in Europe (VE) Day, and simply Victory Day in countries that made up the Soviet Union, which bore the brunt of the fighting and had by far the most casualties, May 9  marks the anniversary of the official end of World War II with the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany.

May Day 2024 Port Adelaide Workers Memorial.

Port Adelaide Workers Memorial.

May Day 2024 in Adelaide

May Day was celebrated on the day with a dinner where outstanding unionist were recognised with several awards. A feature of the evening was a direct video from Gaza of an interview with a social worker who organises programs to help children. The grim reality of the desperation facing families in Gaza became starkly clear.

On the Saturday the May Day March paraded through the centre of the city from the south parklands to Tandanyangga (Victoria Square) including the Communist Party of Australia where a family fun day took place, and solidarity and other groups were able to operate their stalls, including the Communist Party of Australia.

Key themes in the celebrations were solidarity with the Palestinian people, ending the cost of living (really a cost of profits) crisis, and women’s rights.

May Day 2024 Fremantle, Western Australia

Richard Titelius

On a mild autumn day, the union movement in Western Australia held their annual May Day rally and march. Secretary of Unions WA, Owen Whittle started the speeches with occupational health and safety, especially the ongoing toll caused by asbestos in Australia and amongst workers in Indonesia. Recently in WA two teenagers contracted non-occupational mesothelioma, showing the prevalence of asbestos is still with us.

Whittle recognised the 20,000 people who lived or worked at the former mine in Wittenoom in WA’s northwest, noting more than 2000 had died of asbestos related diseases. Owen also spoke about the efforts of organised labour in Australia to secure improvements in wages and conditions through persistent struggle and improvements in the Fair Work Commission and Federal industrial relations laws.

The rally platformed the work of Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA), helping in the struggle for the protection of workers and their unions in countries such as Myanmar, the Philippines, Cambodia and Palestine. In Myanmar, the military junta has outlawed unions and union officials have often been arrested and imprisoned. The leader of their peak union body was even stripped of his citizenship and expelled from the country making it impossible for him to return. However, said Whittle, this did not stop many in the country continuing the fight for a free Myanmar and for a return of democracy and union rights.

Chief Executive Officer of APHEDA, Kate Lee spoke about the work of APHEDA. She spoke of APHEDA’s solidarity work to protect and maintain the rights of workers across the globe including in Myanmar, Philippines, India, Indonesia and in Palestine. She made particular mention of work being done to protect the lives of workers in Gaza and their communities.

Michael Kaine, the National Secretary of the Transport Workers Union spoke about the struggles and wins of members who work for Qantas, and in the gig economy in transport generally. Casualisation, and sham contracting has lead to 54 truckies dying in one year – totally unacceptable.

May Day is also a day of celebration of the victories of organised labour, and Kaine described the TWU’s sustained struggle with the former CEO of Qantas, Alan Joyce who tried to eliminate the jobs of 117 members of his union during COVID. The TWU fought back and won.

Over 5,000 unionists, their families, friends and activists joined together for the colourful and vibrant march through the streets of Fremantle. There was a strong presence of activists across many community groups supporting the Freedom of Palestine. Among them were comrades of the WA Branch of the Communist Party of Australia, Australia Cuba Friendship branch of WA, Stop AUKUSWA, and Nuclear Free WA. We also celebrate Karl Marx’s birthday on 5 May 1818.

May Day & Free Palestine Melbourne

Melbourne Communist Party of Australia comrades ran a stall at the Trades Hall May Day event, and joined in the May Day march, which this year combined with the weekly Free Palestine rally. Comrades joined with their unions in the rally.

The Federal Secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) Annie Butler addressed the Free Palestine rally, stating that nurses and midwives demand the prevention of war and the end of all wars. Therefore: the ANMF condemns the attacks on Healthcare Workers and  hospitals, and the killing of innocents.

Healthcare workers in Gaza are doing what they do in Australia, care for the community.

In addition, the ANMF condemns the use of starvation as tool of war, and calls on Israel to guarantee devices and humanitarian assistance to Gaza. Along with all union members at the rally, the ANMF calls on the Australian government to work on immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and for an end to the occupation in Palestine.

All workers at the May Day event called for a free and independent Palestine.

For a just and sustainable peace for every community:

Healthcare not warfare!

May Day 2024 Sydney

May Day Sydney

On the 1 May 2024, in Belmore Park, Sydney, the atmosphere was jovial as it was May Day, the day to celebrate the achievements of the working class. Many people took a day off work to be here at this rally.

The crowd was a sea of union flags and logos of all types, but this year, the Palestine flag also had a large presence. The terrible actions of the Israeli settler colony loom large over this year’s May Day. The display of Palestine flags is a show of solidarity with our fellow workers in Palestine.

Australian workers have struggled hard in the last year and they had several achievements to celebrate. The CFMEU have pushed hard to ban engineered stone which carries fatal health risks to construction workers, and this regulation is on the precipice of being passed. We also must take this opportunity to congratulate all the rank-and-file workers who fought for improvements within their own enterprise or workplace!

Paul Keating of the Maritime Union delivered a speech in which he underscored several of the main issues facing Australian workers today. The lack of a right to strike and the cost of living crisis are squeezing the pockets of everyday Australians. There is a housing crisis, yet the government is spending $368 billion on AUKUS submarines instead of addressing our material needs. There is a genocide in Palestine, an impending climate catastrophe and draconian anti-protest laws. The capitalist system is oppressing and squeezing workers in many ways.

Of course, we have some large issues to face up against but let’s not forget that we, the working class, are the largest class. We are the most powerful class when we organise together, so happy May Day comrades, we hope you have a fantastic and militant year to come!

CPA City of Sydney Branch


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