IssueJune - August 2004

1 May is International Workers Day - traditionally a day of struggle against exploitation and capital - and each year there seems to be a widening of the issues focused on by activists globally, as detailed knowledge of the interconnectedness between oppression in all fields of life becomes widespread.

The global and creative nature of May Day activism also illustrates that people have more power and more creativity when we know that, around the world, others are acting on related issues and that there is growing knowledge and development of more life-enhancing, free and just forms of links between work structures and daily life.


20,000 South Koreans gathered in Seoul demanding the government retract its promise to send more than 3,000 soldiers to Iraq. Nearby in Japan, 42,000 demonstrated about pension reform while 12,000 others demanded the government withdraw its 550 troops from Iraq.

In Thailand 20,000 workers held rallies to demand a rise in the basic wage and end the government's privatisation drive.

Demonstrations and celebrations also took place across Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines.

Jobs not bombs!

“Jobs not Bombs”, “Peace for Workers, No to Wars and Profiteers” were the slogans in Athens, while in London activists targeted arms traders and held a Critical Mass cycle ride of 1,500 cyclists.

In Istanbul and Diyarbakir, Turkish riot police detained around 150 people who tried to hold a May Day march, and in Cairo Egyptian demonstrators were also confronted by massed police riot units.

In Berlin, street protests became violent during a second demonstration held against a far-right group; there were reports of more than 60 arrests.

Europe: no borders!

In Dublin, where the EU summit to welcome 10 new member states coincided with May Day, there was a high-level of police intimidation towards activists both before and during Mayday.

Activists called for a Europe without borders. Water cannon and batons were used by police on the Another Europe is Possible march and, unusually, activists arrested on minor charges were refused bail.

Solidarity demonstrations for those arrested took place outside prisons. After five days an Irish high court ordered the activists to be released on bail.

In Paris various marches, including the Christian trade Union CFTC, called for social justice in the new enlarged EU.

Barcelona and Milan were the focus cities for Euro May Day - which calls for a world of “steady income and access to housing, loving and hacking for all”. This year highlighted that we live in a war economy, and campaigned for a “Bush-free” Europe.