Unity Leader: Solidarity Forever
By Lynda Walker
ON May Day 2020 workers’ solidarity was spread throughout the world using imaginative ways to ensure that this historic May Day was marked. In Ireland this included a day of action organised by the Belfast and District Trades Union Council in co-operation with Northern Visions Television, (NVTV) who broadcast a series of programmes related to the labour movement.
This included some archive footage of two Irish Congress of Trade Union May Day rallies, in 1992 and 2001. Both rallies featured comrades who are no longer with us, Lance Noakes, Andy Barr, Billy Ennis, John Hanna and others.
NVTV also broadcast a programme about the Cleaners Co-op in Belfast with Alice McClarnon speaking about the practical and ideological work for the co-op. Paddy Nash and Diane Greer, from Derry and Joe Solo, from Scarborough recorded labour songs specially for the programme, with some of the old favourites, Solidarity Forever, Joe Hill and Bread and Roses getting an airing.
NVTV also did an interview with Francis Devine of the Irish Labour History Society with Ciarán Ó Brolcháin about a new book Left Lives, which is about past and present members of the Communist Party of Ireland. The programme also included live interviews with trade unionists (Adam Murray being one of them), about the situation that workers are facing, and a message of solidarity was given by Paddy Mackel, President of the Belfast Trade Council.
In Connolly Books, Dublin, the Communist Party of Ireland held a virtual launch of the new book The Capitalist Illusion, by Eoghan O’Neill, with Eugene McCartan facilitating the event.
In other parts of the world, communists and progressive people found different ways of marking the day and some did take to the streets.
Of course this came and went with little recognition from the capitalist media, in spite of the entire clap trap about valuing frontline workers. The lack of recognition of workers’ rights and May Day makes the observation of journalist and writer Ravinder Randhawa poignant when he writes that he will not be clapping on Thursday nights because “our clap- ping gives the impression things are working and lets the government off the hook. “In fact it lets them join us, as if they’re not responsible for the perilous situation in which healthcare workers find themselves, and for the deaths of healthcare staff.” .(Huffington Post) Whilst this is a true observation, the act of getting onto the streets with our neighbours, some of whom are nurses
and frontline workers, is a community action that is welcomed and should be developed. Many of these workers recognise the government’s right-wing agenda.
People are helping each other in a communal way this is not just for the new friendships but potential for future political action. We are far removed from Cuba politically and geographically, but the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution comes to mind, we live in hope!
We are in an unknown situation where thousands of workers are being locked out of work without option, working from home (home working is not a new phenomena), and being sacked from their place of work without recourse to justice.
In addition health, service and industrial workers are risking their health as they ensure essential production and services.
May Day 2020 will undoubtedly remind us of the huge battles that lie ahead, because the Covid-19 pandemic has confronted us with the challenge of our lifetime, any gains that are made for the working class in this situation must be built upon.
Originally Printed in Unity Weekly Paper of the CPI