May Day Calls for United ActionCategory: Land + People
The most widely representative and colourful May Day march for many years took place in London. The Musicians’ Union band headed the march as it wound through the city to cheers from bystanders. Engineering, draughtsmen-technicians, printing workers, tailors, furniture trades, sheet-metal workers, building workers, railwaymen, electricians and vehicle builders marched behind their union banners. Along with trades council banners were those of Labour Party Young Socialists from Harlesden and Woolwich.
Prominent in the over 2,000-strong march was the banner of the Morning Star. There were large contingents marching behind Communist Party and Young Communist League- banners from London, Kent, Surrey, South Essex and West Middlesex. A young black girl travelled in a cage on a back of a lorry with placards calling for the release of Angela Davis. As the march went along Oxford Street, old age pensioners joined in with placards calling for higher pensions.
The marchers’ major demand was that the Government should drop itsanti-union proposals. The demonstrators also called for more money to be spent on schools, old age pensions, housing, social services and transport. International solidarity was displayed with placards proclaiming support for the Indo-Chinese people’s fight, freedom for political prisoners in Greece and Spain and the freeing of Angela Davis and the Soledad Brothers.
Mr John Gollan, Communist Party general secretary, told a Hyde Park rally that the Labour Party movement should be proud of its fight against the Industrial Relations Bill. It had shown the need for industrial action to protect the trade unions, forced the Trades Union Congress to discuss a general, strike and forced the TUC to call on unions not to register. He warned that the workers must be prepared to use industrial action again if the Bill was to be defeated. On behalf of the Communist Party he sent international greetings to workers in Socialist Countries, to fighters for national liberation — including those in Ireland, and to all those fighting for peace and against imperialism.
There was loud applause for Mrs Khompheng Boupha of the Association of Patriotic Women from Laos, who thanked the British workers for their support of the struggle of the Indo-Chinese people.
Prof. Ichiro Moritaki, who lost the sight of an eye in the Hiroshima bombing, called for people throughout the world to step up their campaign for peace and against the use of nuclear weapons.
Labour MPs Sidney Bidwell and Russell Kerr said that the Labour movement’s industrial and political wings must unite to defeat “the evil politics of this evil Tory Government”.
Glasgow: The time has come for the trade union movement to demand programmes of its own on the B.B.C. and I.T.V., Labour Party Vice-chairman Anthony Wedgewood Benn told Glasgow’s May Day rally yesterday. This would allow the movement to speak directly to its members without having everything it said “edited away by self-appointed pundits and producers. Surely the trade union movement, with nearly 20 million members, should be entitled, as an absolute minimum, to say a quarter of an hour out of the 200 hours of B.B.C. output each week”, he said. It should also have time on other networks “so that it could present in depth and free from bullying interrogators the needs and problems of those who earn their living in industry”.
Mr Benn told the 10,000 demonstrators he hoped the trade union movement would formulate a clear demand to the B.B.C. and I.T.V. companies for their own programme. “It would represent a substantial advance in democratic development and that would immensely enrich our Society.”
Many people lined the streets to watch the city’s colourful May Day parade, which was a show of the unity of the trade union and Labour movement to defeat the Tories. Every major union, from engineers to shop workers, was represented, with Labour Party branches and Co-op Societies also taking part. The largest contingent marched behind Glasgow committee of the Communist Party’s banner.
Dozens of children in the Socialist Fellowship sang songs of peace and friendship along the three-mile route to Queen Park. And at the rally there were songs from the Socialist Fellowship choir and the Glasgow Trade Union Centra choir.