No. 16May 4, 2019

May Day Around the World

Militant Actions Defend Rights and
Uphold the Dignity of Labour

Havana, Cuba, May 1, 2019.

Around the world, workers and oppressed peoples used the occasion of May First, the international day of working class unity and struggle, to take bold stands to defend their rights and the rights of all, and to uphold the dignity of labour.

This organized resistance is more necessary than ever, as the living and working conditions of the peoples of the world deteriorate under a broad neo-liberal assault in those countries where liberal democracy has failed and the so-called democratic institutions that it is claimed will empower the people, clearly do not work. Meanwhile, in those countries whose proud independence and defence of sovereignty and the rule of international law have made them targets of interference from the U.S. imperialists and other aggressors, the people are resisting these assaults with great resourcefulness and steadfastness, with the support of the peoples of the world. The working people of the world are united in the common desire for the recognition of their rights, to be able to exercise control over their own affairs and to have peaceful relations with one another so that the human person can flourish.

In this way, the actions of May Day 2019 expressed the striving of working people for renewal, for human-centered social, political and economic arrangements at home, and for international relations that uphold the peace and sovereignty of all countries, and the rule of international law.

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Canada and Quebec

Montreal, May 1, 2019.

Working people across Canada and Quebec proudly organized their May Day events in this spirit of defending their interests and providing a venue to raise their concerns and express support for all the struggles being waged by the peoples at home and abroad.

Across Canada and Quebec, workers are facing a serious problem of governments that serve the interests of the rich and cannot be held to account by the people. This has been made clear by the protracted lockout of the Hamilton steelworkers by German monopoly MANA; the lockout of workers in Becancour by ABI, with the collusion of the Quebec government and its public utility Hydro-Québec; the deregulation of safety standards and self-monitoring that the federal government has permitted in the rail industry, with fatal results; the wrecking of the economy in the name of making "private business decisions" that the auto monopolies are permitted to carry out; the federal government's continued abuse of postal workers by legislating them back to work once more, with none of their serious concerns addressed; the abuse of federal public sector workers through the Phoenix Pay System, brought in as a so-called cost-saving measure that the government will pay IBM billions of dollars to fix, while the workers continue to suffer from financial instability. To boot, newly elected governments of Alberta, Ontario and Quebec have come into office openly promoting an agenda of serving private interests, declaring their provinces to be "open for business" and are proceeding to intensify the anti-social offensive.

As the cartel parties begin their electioneering in the lead-up to the federal election, it is crucial that working people reflect on their own experiences and in the spirit of May Day, develop their independent thinking and voice so as not to get caught up in the false choices and contrived issues presented by these parties that do not serve their interests.


This year's rally was held at the Maritime Centre, where the Department of Labour and Advanced Education is located. Speakers highlighted the situation of underpaid and vulnerable workers, including migrant workers. They called for proper compensation for workers who work more than an eight-hour day or a 40-hour week, and the abolition of so-called training and probation minimum wages and the unpaid training shifts that occur in restaurants. They also called for employers to be penalized for wage theft and for workers to receive a minimum of two weeks’ notice prior to dismissal, regardless of how long they have been employed. A letter outlining these demands was hand-delivered to Minister of Labour and Advanced Education Labi Kousoulis.


The May Day Coalition, which brings together unions and community groups, held a march in the streets of Montreal on May First, under the theme "For the Quebec we want" in which hundreds of people participated. There were workers from different sectors, many of them construction workers, who a few days earlier, on the Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured on the Job, denounced the attacks on their health and safety, as construction remains the deadliest sector of the economy in Quebec. According to official counts, 226 workers lost their lives at work from work-related causes,  well below the actual number of deaths. Public sector workers were also at the march, along with members of several community groups and a good participation by students.

Defence of the right of workers to negotiate their working conditions instead of these being dictated by monopolies and governments, a massive increase of investments in public health and education sectors and opposition to the privatization of these sectors, the immediate increase of the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, measures to protect the environment were among the demands expressed by the participants.


May Day was celebrated in the Ottawa-Gatineau region with a lively political and social evening of discussion at the Brasserie Bas Canada in Gatineau, Quebec. Hosted by the Jos. Montferrand Collective, other participants were members of ALBA Social Movement Canada-Ottawa Chapter as well as activists and friends of the Ottawa-Gatineau Branch of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).

A representative of the Jos. Montferrand Collective welcomed everyone and extended special greetings to a representative of the Republic of Cuba, the Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission of the Cuban Embassy in Canada Giuvel Orozco. He highlighted the militant May Day march of the Cuban people in Havana under the banner "Unity, Commitment and Victory" -- a fitting response of the Cuban people to new threats by the U.S. to intensify the illegal blockade of the Republic of Cuba.

He also warmly welcomed the Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Canada, Luis Acuña and hailed the heroic resistance of the Venezuelan people who the day before prevailed against another U.S.-backed coup attempt.

The Jos. Montferrand Collective representative emphasized that in the case of both countries, Canada is playing a treacherous role on behalf of U.S. imperialism and also denounced the activities of Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland in the service of U.S. interests. He concluded by encouraging everyone to discuss the advances being made by the working class and the battles being waged by workers in Quebec, Canada and internationally.


Hundreds of people converged at City Hall and marched to Regent Park in downtown Toronto to mark May Day. Young workers and activists marched despite the pouring rain to oppose the Ford Conservative governments’ cuts to health care and education programs, libraries and other services that Ontarians need. Migrant worker organizations demanded that all workers be treated with dignity and respect and that those coming to Canada as temporary foreign workers be given status on arrival.


The Toronto Airport Workers’ Council organized a spirited street festival and rally at Pearson International Airport to celebrate May Day. The airport workers have just finished a joint TAWC and International Transport Workers' Federation airport organizing conference where workers from four continents shared their successes in fighting for their rights and discussed how to tackle the problems they face, such as the contracting out of jobs. A number of delegates stayed to join in the May Day celebrations, including a large contingent organizing at Incheon International Airport in Korea. They, along with airport workers from Indonesia, Thailand and the UK brought their greetings to the rally. The TAWC announced that a global day of action for airport workers’ rights will be held September 1 and invited everyone to participate.


The Alliance of Progressive Canadians.CA held an early morning march in downtown Brampton, an event they initiated last year, determined that Brampton workers should have the dignity of their own independent stand on May Day. At city hall, speakers denounced the Ford Government’s brutal anti-social cuts to social programs and attacks on workers’ rights and pledged to step up the fight against the anti-social offensive in Ontario and Canada.


Hundreds of workers and youth filled Gore Park to celebrate May Day in Hamilton, Ontario. They marched to the Federal Building where President of USW Local 1005 Gary Howe and Hamilton and District Labour Council President Anthony Marco spoke of the growing unity of the workers in defence of their rights and the rights of all against the attacks of the ruling elite. Rolf Gerstenberger, former president of USW Local 1005, spoke of the fraud of the governments in Canada that claim to uphold the rule of law, while they are in the forefront of attempts to overthrow the legitimate government of Venezuela and are passing legislation at home to allow companies that engage in illegal activities, such as SNC Lavelin, off the hook. He said the workers produce all the goods and provide all the services in Canada but have no decision-making power. This is the central problem the workers themselves have to solve -- how to become the decision-makers. Bill Mahoney, resident USW Local 1005 poet, ended the rally with a poem on the wrecking of society by the rich and powerful, which ends: "Who will build a world that's just and free, if it ain't those like you and me?" The rally then took to the streets to carry on their march.


A May Day Rally and Speak Out organized by the Greater Essex Elementary Teachers' Federation was joined by representatives of all other education unions and of students. Emcee Laura Chesnik said, "Those who provide public services produce immense value which must be recognized so it can be reinvested into the social programs Ontarians require." A representative of District 9 of the Secondary School Teachers' Federation opposed attempts of the Ford government to divide members from their unions, "We are the union and the union is us!" A representative of high school students affirmed they will continue actions to defend their education. A cultural evening followed the rally.

Also on May Day, a press conference was hosted by the Windsor & District Labour Council for striking public health nurses, represented by Ontario Nurses' Association Local 8. The nurses spoke about important health services the community has been denied because their employer refuses to negotiate or seek a mediated or arbitrated settlement to the almost eight-week strike.


A large rally of education workers was held outside of Sarnia PC MPP Bob Bailey's constituency office. Those working in different educational sectors joined together to say No! to the direction the Ford government is taking education and affirmed that those who work in the education system have a right to participate in deciding its direction and the direction of the economy as a whole.

Thunder Bay

In Thunder Bay, a rally of 400 people opposed the Ford government's attacks on public education and those who provide it. Participants included many workers in the education sector.


May Day began with a short rally at the Legislature with music and speakers. A very lively and militant march followed through downtown Edmonton with the workers and youth chanting non-stop and expressing their conviction that they are up to the challenge facing them.

A dinner followed, where discussion carried on for several hours with workers and youth all speaking, especially about the election results, which are on everyone's minds. A major point of discussion was how to strengthen the workers' opposition -- the need for our own thinking, relying on our own organizations, our unity and setting our own program.


May Day celebrations in Calgary started with the traditional picket at City Hall under the theme "Step up the Fight for the Rights of All." Workers and youth were joined by delegates from the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) Convention, which began May 2.

Everyone then marched to the Memorial Park Library for a book launch of A Graphic History of the Winnipeg General Strike, sponsored by the Calgary Public Library and the Alberta Labour History Institute. Discussion organized by the May Day Committee followed, led by activists from different sectors who spoke about the challenges they are facing, with many people joining in to give their views and speak about how to strengthen the workers' opposition in the face of the election results and the election of Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party.

At an awards ceremony at the AFL Convention, Peggy Morton, long-time political activist with CPC(M-L), was honoured by the labour movement for her contributions and presented with the AFL's May Day Award.


Prince George

Working people in Prince George held their 10th Annual May Day celebration and banquet at the Bentley Centre at the University of Northern BC. Over 100 workers, retirees and youth participated in a lively evening of presentations, songs and good food. Remarks by speakers highlighted the essential role of the workers as the producers of all the wealth in the society, and the need for working people to unite around a political program they themselves set.

Presentations were made by representatives of four local unions who have been involved in particularly sharp strike and organizing struggles over the last year, including Unite Here 40 (Coast Inn of the North, Ramada Hotel, and UNBC food services); United Steelworkers, Local 2017; Canadian Union of Postal Workers; and CUPE 2278 (representing newly-certified teaching assistants at UNBC).

This was followed by reports from the other sponsoring unions regarding the issues and challenges facing them.

(Photos: TML, OSSTF, Metallos, VDLC, B. Hogan, A. Bock, R. Devet.)

May Day Around the World


Istanbul, Turkey

Baghdad, Iraq

Shatrah, Iraq

Jenin, Palestine

Dhaka, Bangladesh


Lahore, Pakistan

Hyderabad, Pakistan

New Delhi, India

Kandla, India

Jakarta, Indonesia

Manila, Philippines

Seoul, Korea

Tokyo, Japan


Sydney, Australia

Auckland, New Zealand



Casablanca, Morroco



Guinea Bissau


Nairobi, Kenya


Accra, Ghana

Lusaka, Zambia


Latin America and the Caribbean

Havana, Cuba

Matanzas; Guantánamo, Cuba

San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Salvador, El Salvador


Panama City, Panama

Caracas, Venezuela

Bogotá, Colombia

Porto Alegre, Brazil

Ceará, Brazil

Montevideo, Uruguay



Quito, Ecuador

United States

Venezuelan Embassy, Washington, DC

Boston, MA

New York City, NY

Long Island, NY

Jersey City, NJ

Perth Amboy, NJ

Detroit, MI

Grand Rapids, MI

Madison, WI

Raleigh, North Carolina

Columbia, SC

Los Angeles, CA

San Francisco, CA

Oakland, CA

Sacramento, CA


Oslo, Norway

Geneva, Switzerland

Brussels, Belguim

London, England

Paris, France

Santander, Spain

Lisbon, Portugal

Aveiro, Portugal

Bologna, Italy

Athens, Greece

Moscow, Russia

Caucasus, Russia

(Photos: TML, DISK, General Federation of Iraq Trade Unions, International Trade Union Confederation, Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign, D. Noor, International Transport Workers' Federation, E.R. Saliban, Kilusan Mayo Uno, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, Japan Press Weekly, M. Goodwin, First Union, M. Lakhal, UGTM, Central Organization of Trade Unions, Ghana News Agency, Xinhua, Angola Press Agency, CubaDebate, Trabajadores, Granma, Agencia Cubana de Noticias, V.R. Birriel, L. Lopez, FMLN, O. Rodriguez, TeleSUR, Barrio Tricolor, Resumen Latinamericano, CUT, Colombia, L. Castro, Confederacion Sindicale de Trabajadores de las Americas, Patria Roja, Agencia Boliviana de Informacion, ANSWER, 32BJ SEIU, H. Luna, Laundry Workers Center, Let's Drive NJ, A. Azikiwe, La Cosecha, Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association, North Carolina Association of Educators, South Carolina Education Association, B. Winston, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, ELogITForbundet, R. Gammarano, FGTB, Compact News, C. Peepovich, Union Sindical Obrero, CGTP, CISL, KKE, Communist Party of the Russian Federation.)

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