Details of the ICTU Belfast May Day parade and associated events are available here. The parade will be held on Saturday May 2nd, leaving its traditional departure point at the UU Art College in York Street at 12pm. Marchers are asked to assemble at 11.30. After the parade there will be a family diversity festival in St George’s Market. There will also be on May 1st and 2nd a Migrant Workers’ Festival, and an event organised by the Shared History Interpretive Project (S.H.I.P.).
The main speaker will be SIPTU President Jack O’Connor, and the march will be led by SIPTU and by workers involved in occupying the Visteon plant in west Belfast. This occupation is for better severance conditions from the company, which supplied Ford.
May Day in the north has been an important event for decades, as a visible representation of progressive social and political thinking that draws in people from across the community and rejects sectarianism and the damage it does to the lives of ordinary workers. Now that we have a power-sharing government, the trade union movement has a vital role to play in keeping pressure on the politicians to deliver, and to promote progressive ideas. A big May Day turnout is especially needed at this time of cuts and job losses, both as an expression of resistance to the bailout of ruthless speculators, and to raise awareness among ordinary people that alternatives economic strategies that stress job preservation and creation are possible.
On a related note, there will be quite a few familiar faces missing from this year’s Belfast May Day parade. Instead, they will be attending May Day in Cuba. Around 80 members and supporters of The Workers’ Party are in Cuba for the May Day celebrations in this, the year of the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban Revolution as an expression of solidarity and support with the Cuban people in their struggle against imperialist oppression. This is the essence of what May Day is about. Solidarity among workers of all countries against the common enemy – the exploitation of one human being by another.
Hasta la Victoria Siempre! As the lucky so and sos in Cuba would say.