It’s always tempting, on May 1st, to tell, yet again, the story of the Haymarket Massacre, the Second International’s commemoration of those events, the May Day riots, the Amsterdam conference, and the fight for the eight hour day. Trouble is, you all know this stuff, and yet lots of you will have forgotten what links you to those workers in Chicago. Their struggle is our struggle: it’s the same struggle. Now, some will tell you that nothing’s changed. Well, that’s not true. Most of you will benefit from limited working hours, sick pay, health and safety legislation, weekends, national holidays, trade union recognition, minimum wage, unfair dismissal legislation and so on. It’s miles from perfect. But it’s progress, and none of us would want to turn the clock back.
None of this was given to us, brothers and sisters. We fought for every single bit of what we now have. And those that pioneered the struggle got the least out of it, and suffered the most pain.
So let’s remember them today, on May 1st, while celebrating what we now have. And let’s concentrate on following those long gone comrades’ example and fighting hard and uncompromisingly for everything else that we deserve.
There’s a song on our new album called Don’t Forget What The Movement’s Done For You. If you come and see us at the DDRofRnB on June 7th or at Marxism 2012 you’ll probably hear it. If you come to see us at the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival you will definitely hear it. Until then, here are the lyrics, to celebrate this great day, and those that fought hard to get us where we are. Don’t stop fighting.
Don’t forget what the movement’s done for you baby
Don’t forget what the movement’s done for you
Without the Tolpuddle boys and the match-fact’ry girls
You’d have a diffident voice in a different world
Trim the advantage, don’t feel abandoned
Remember your Grandad, don’t take us for granted!
Don’t be a dot in the city
When it’s hot in the city
We’re what you got in the city tonight
We’re a lot in the city
Don’t you rot in the city
We ain’t gonna give up the fight
Your bank holidays, the 1st day of May
Half Saturdays and the minimum wage
Comradely salutations this May Day, brothers and sisters. We can see a much better tomorrow on the horizon.