May Day Demonstration London 1st May 2015

Report by Laurence Humphries, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), Britain, 3.5.2015,


The annual May Day demonstration in London on 1st May always starts from the Marx Memorial Library which has a collection of books on Marxism. The March of 15,000-20,000 people always marches onto Trafalgar Square where there are speeches by trade union bureaucrats and others.

The March is always organised by the South East Region of the TUC. There were a number of political tendencies present as well as trade unionists representing the different trade unions in Britain. There were banners from the RMT Newham Trades Council Unison, PCS, the NUT and other trade unions. There were many other international banners from various political tendencies around the world, including the Iraqi Communist Party, the Worker Communist Party of Iran, Iranian Solidarity Committee, the Turkish Communist Party, and a number of Kurdish Groups marched as well. The Frontline Socialist Party of Sri Lanka had a banner with a number of young comrades.

There were a number of British leftist organisations who had stalls. The biggest and most numerous were the SWP and the Socialist Party. There were also various small groups from Socialist Appeal and the AWL, there were other sporadic small groups selling their papers including the Spartacists and several Anarchist organisations.

The Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) marched behind a banner of Josef Stalin and there were also a number of Turkish, Greek and other Stalinists. It is the only time that they march and show their colours.

We then marched from Clerkenwell Green to Trafalgar square with many slogans being shouted in several languages. There were many young comrades on the march especially from the south, including Turkey, Kurdistan, Iran Iraq and Pakistan.


Reformist Speakers


When we arrived at Trafalgar Square we met many workers in the PCS Trade Union who are on strike at the National Gallery. The first speaker was Paul Novack, Assistant General Secretary of the TUC. He stated that we are stronger in the global movement nationally and mentioned the heroic battle of the PCS workers at the National Gallery which is right next to Trafalgar Square.

The next speaker was Mary Turner, President of the GMB, who mentioned the closing of our maternity and A&E Units and the consequence for workers and their families. She mentioned the support of Ricky Tomlinson who was jailed as one of the Shrewsbury building workers.

Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union and a leftist, spoke about the May Day marches in Istanbul in Turkey. He hoped that the election would be the end of appalling attacks on public services. Interestingly none of the bureaucrats mentioned the Labour Party by name and insisted that politics was not be used in a Trade Union March. Wrack further said that these attacks will continue and austerity will be the policy of whoever is elected on the 7th May. He reminded everyone that working people are paying the price for this crisis with the rich getting richer. The housing crisis has meant that housing has become the playground of the super-rich. He said as a Socialist he believed in a truly democratic society and the necessity to organise the fight back.

Candy Unwin, the suspended shop steward from the National Gallery, said that PCS workers at the National Gallery had been 23 days on strike. The gallery management was trying to privatise services and make it only for the super-rich. We need a wider audience, she said. All the management want is events for bankers or corporate sponsors. This privatisation hopefully will be got rid of next week. She said her members had voted to escalate the strike. We want an end to austerity. She said we are not going to have an anti-austerity government.

A speaker from Kurdistan spoke about the role of Kurdish fighters against what she called the ISIS gangsters and she saluted the victory at Kobane. What we want, she said, was a Revolution. On the 7th June there is to be a general election in Turkey and she wanted a victory for the HDP, the Democratic Party in Turkey, and to remove the AKP government in Turkey.

Steve Hedley, Assistant General Secretary of the RMT, talked about the attacks on his members in the London Underground where they are planning to shut ticket offices and get rid of our staff in Network Rail. We need a national strike throughout the country. He said that he had lived under a Labour government and they hit working people very hard. We should strive for a new Workers Party.

Mark Serwokta, General Secretary of PCS, another Leftist called for a vote against austerity. He claimed whoever wins this election we are going to have a fight for a welfare state. We need solidarity with the unemployed and the disabled. We need a decent welfare state to end the benefits sanctions. He said the trade union movement has failed to stop austerity. We need to take strike action against the public sector as well as the private sector. He saluted the strikers at Bromley, Barnet and Barking. We must stand up against privatisation. He saluted his members at the National gallery and said the result of the general election should stop privatisation or we would escalate the strike. He said there would be a 30th May Demonstration in support of Candy Unwin, the sacked PCS Steward at the National Gallery, and the other PCS members who are on Strike. He finished by saying that we need to win these disputes against austerity.


Hot Air Speeches


Most of these bureaucrats who spoke exhibit a lot of hot air and nothing else. Both Serwokta and Wrack have been involved in public sector strikes over pensions, pay and conditions. Both these leftists have called off strike action and caved into government demands. The role of the trade union bureaucracy as always is to capitulate in front of capitalism. They are always looking to have crumbs from the masters table. Their history is littered with betrayals and cowardice. Both left and right bureaucrats are part of the capitalist state and are always ready to blame workers when the situation does not improve. Serwokta is typical of the bureaucracy who blames workers for not fighting against austerity.

The RCIT has pointed out time and time again that the crisis of leadership in Britain is the main question. Serwokta in his speech denounced benefit sanctions but does not think that he has responsibility in this matter. Many poor and unemployed claimants have sanctions issued against them by members of Serwokta’s Union the PCS in the Department of Work and Pensions. If he feels that sanctions by the government are wrong he should persuade his members not to operate the sanctions regime. To date he has done nothing .This speaks volumes about the character of the trade union bureaucracy in Britain today.

The RCIT Britain calls all revolutionaries in this country to join us in the struggle to build a revolutionary workers party as part of the new world party of socialist revolution which will be the Fifth Workers International!

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