Belfast reclaim May Day 2001

Why do workers commemorate May Day? Surely there's more to it than dusting off those union banners once a year. No, its nothing to do with Tanks rolling through Red Square in the days when workers in the USSR had the privilege of oppression under a 'Communist' regime. And its as far removed from hand wringing talk of 'social partnership' as the reality of our lives is from every other myth of 'equality' fostered by boss and politician. It's time to reclaim May Day, reclaim our history and to reclaim our lives. Our history, the history of our class the world over, is marked by the poverty, misery and destitution which capital has brought down upon the heads of workers. It is a history steeped in the blood of workers. A history made proud in the common bond of solidarity that has held the Labour movement together as working men and women stood up to the tyrannies of state and capital.

Tuesday 1st May 7.00pm
Voices Still Strangled - The Real Story of The First May Day

Venue: Giro's/Belfast Youth & Community Group, 4 - 5 Donegall Lane, Belfast. £2.00 Suggested Donation.

'Voices Still Strangled.' tells the truth behind the global celebration of May Day as international Labour day. This talk will be given by a member of the Syndicalist Solidarity Network and followed by two videos produced by Labor Beat of Chicago.

'The Road to Haymarket' and 'Trainwreck of Ideologies';

In 1998 the Haymarket monument was made a US national historic site. The dedication at the Haymarket memorial saw yet another attempt made to strangle the real voices of Labour history over 100 years after the judicial murder of the martyrs themselves.

The Illinois History Society, which sponsored the event, invited a spokesperson from the US government to mumble some official remarks. Many of those in attendance, not least the anarchists, felt this was in bad taste, since it was in fact the government that unjustly hung the Haymarket martyr' s back in the 1880's. The Chicago martyrs were, not incidentally, anarchists themselves.

Insult was added to injury when a Catholic priest was invited to pronounce his invocation over the graves of atheists.

Why were representatives of the government and organised religion given a place at the podium? Why was not one anarchist permitted to speak?

But the truth is harder to suppress, from the bottom of the memorial itself the words of August Spies were plain for all to see;

"The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today".

Images From Labour History

On display throughout the evening will be a series of contemporary Images and Photo's related to the Haymarket Incident, the trial and judicial murder, and the Struggle for the Eight Hour Day.

Wednesday 2nd May 7.00pm
Confronting Casualisation - Confronting Corporate Killing

Venue: Giro's/BYCG address as elsewhere on flyer Donation Welcome A benefit for the Simon Jones Memorial Campaign

Video showings and discussion of casualisation and corporate killing. Discussion should focus on how best to raise awareness of the corporate killing of workers, its causes and the means working class people have at their disposal to fight back against this crime. A crime perpetrated against workers by companies motivated by 'profit before people'.

Video showings;

'Not This Time' by the Simon Jones Memorial Campaign. In April 1998 on his first day at work, Simon was sent to work without training or protective clothing, he was dead within two hours, decapitated by a crane grab. This is the story of the campaign which recently won a significant victory with the announcement, on 19th December, by the DPP that Euromin are to face prosecution for the manslaughter of Simon Jones.

'All For One', showing the global solidarity extended to the Liverpool Dockers during their 28 month struggle for their jobs and against casualisation, privatisation and anti-union legislation.

'The video (Not This Time)... is simply a must. Production is excellent, and the subject matter is so rock hard-hitting, it needs a Parental Advisory angry warning (warn your parents they'll be angry)." Direct Action, No. 17 Winter 2000.

Images From (Recent) Labour History

Photo's from the Liverpool Dockers dispute will be on display during video showings and discussions. These are powerful and memorable images.

Saturday 5th May 1.30pm to 5.30pm

Anti-Capitalism & The Labour Movement - Working Class First

Dukes Hotel 65 - 67 University Street Belfast

A day school, hosted by the Syndicalist Solidarity Network, for Trade Unionists and workers to discuss workplace organisation and plan a way forward.

The Early Labour Movement - The Original Anti-Capitalists Sell Outs, Let Downs, Social Partnership, Union Hopping and Splits - What Future for Reformist Trade Unionism? Anarcho-Syndicalist Unions - Organising for a Fighting Alternative Speakers from the Spanish CNT (Anarcho-Syndicalist Union), personal capacity, and the Solidarity Federation (British Section of the IWA, the Anarcho-Syndicalist international) have been invited.

Tuesday 8th May 7.00pm Labour Heritage Pub Quiz

Lounge Bar Whites Tavern 2 - 4 Winecellar Entry Belfast Minimum donation £5.00 per team

Test your knowledge of Labour history. Questions on local Belfast Labour history, Irish and Global Labour history, and on classical songs of Labour resistance. Tickets available in advance please contact the PO Box address below, or email us, for details. In the interests of 'fair play' the Belfast Reclaim May Day Collective will not be entering a team - even though we haven't seen the questions. Minimum donation £5.00 per ticket. Maximum of 5 per team. Great craic and who knows you might even win yourself a free pint or two.

Other Events

Other events, workshops, Labour history talks, and exhibitions are planned throughout May. Please contact the Belfast Reclaim May Day Collective for more details;

Belfast Reclaim May Day Collective, c/o PO Box 505, Belfast, BT12 6BQ

Or email us, asking for updated information, at;

Or if your in Belfast call into Giro's and ask for up to date info. On Reclaim May Day events.

Belfast Reclaim May Day Collective would like to thank:

Belfast Youth & Community Group/Giro's: Special thanks to all the people at BYCG, a.k.a Giro's, for use of their premises and all the help and support they've given this project.

Catalyst Arts: For hiring out their projector to us and for all their other help.

The Chicago Historical Society: This event would not have been possible without the reproduction of the many images and texts on display from the online Chicago Historical Society Haymarket Affair Digital Collection. Visit their website at

The Syndicalist Solidarity Network: Thanks also to the Syndicalist Solidarity Network, Irelands new Anarcho-Syndicalist organisation, for their support of and work with the Belfast Reclaim May Day Collective.

Book Stalls

Book stalls will be provided at all events by Solidarity Books. These stalls will stock a wide range of Syndicalist, Anarchist, Ecological, Labour History and Radical books. Whether you're looking for something by or on Chomsky, rank and file trade union resistance, Emma Goldman, the IWW, Works Councils, the Spanish Revolution, classical Labour movement songs, the battle in Seattle or something in a similar vein we may have just the book for you.


To the Syndicalist Solidarity Network