v‘We are meeting under the greatest ever crisis of the capitalist system,’ Chair of Chingford ASLEF Bill Rogers told 150 workers and youth at the Workers Revolutionary Party and Young Socialists May Day meeting in central London on Friday.
Opening the meeting, he continued: ‘Imperialism is being pushed back all over the world.
‘We are all involved in a revolutionary struggle, in a battle against bosses and bankers.
‘The Palestinians are not giving way against the Zionist terrorists.
‘The Tamil Tigers are going to win against the repressive Sri Lanka government.
‘But the biggest battles are here in Britain, America and Europe.
‘In France there are massive May Day marches – workers are rising up against cuts. They are kidnapping bosses.
‘Britain is the weakest of all capitalist countries.’
After warning that slump turned into world wars in the 20th century, Rogers added: ‘The trade union leaders have done nothing to save a single job.
‘In Visteon, workers were sacked on the spot, like our Gate Gourmet comrades.
‘Visteon workers were given six minutes notice and they occupied factories.
‘But the Unite leaders got them out of occupation at the Enfield plant.
‘Meanwhile, hospitals are being smashed up. Privatisation kills people.
‘In Mid Staffs, over 400 died who shouldn’t have because the trust was looking to get foundation status.
‘This government is driving through privatisation, yet the trade union leaders haven’t lifted a finger to defend jobs and services or to fight privatisation.
‘What is needed is revolutionary leadership.
‘Socialism is the only way forward.
‘The capitalists are trying to solve their problems over our dead bodies.
‘Meanwhile the Unite leaders are marching for short time working – workers can’t live on two days a week pay.’
Sacked Gate Gourmet worker Musarat Saheed said: ‘I’m pleased to speak on May Day when workers all over the world are fighting for their rights.
‘We are Asian workers who were sacked by Gate Gourmet four years ago.
‘Other workers were lined up to take our jobs.
‘The company had a survival plan – to cut wages to survive.
‘This is happening everywhere.
‘The Transport and General Workers Union leader Tony Woodley did not fight for us.
‘These leaders are more interested in helping the company than helping us.
‘The trade union officials were not present. They left us alone and leaderless so we could be sacked.
‘We got a standing ovation at the TUC, they all said they would fight for us.
‘Within a fortnight, they had signed a deal with the company for us to give up our trade union and legal rights.
‘We would not sign this “compromise agreement”.
‘We are very angry at the ruthless bosses who destroy workers lives and angry at the trade union leaders who support the boss.
‘We have suffered for years. We have tried to talk to the trade union officials but they would not talk to us.
‘So we are taking the trade union leaders to court for failing in their duty to us.
‘We are fighting in our union to change the leadership.’
Nash Campbell, YS National Secretary, told the meeting: ‘The Young Socialists stand side by side with the Gate Gourmet workers.
‘All over the world people are marching on May Day.
‘We were marching for Israeli troops out of Palestine, troops out of Iraq.
‘The imperialists went into Iraq because of oil.
‘They are attacking the Tamils and slaughtering Palestinians in Gaza.
‘The government spends our money to go to war.
‘Young people have to get this government out.
‘Students have to spend money on fees and there are no jobs when they leave university.
‘There are no jobs for any young people.
‘We are going to build the YS. We are going to march for jobs.
‘On the High Street they are recruiting youths into the Army.
‘They send them out and they are coming back in body bags.
‘There is nothing for young people to do, and they are attacked by the police all the time.’
He continued: ‘We in the Young Socialists are for occupation to defend hospitals and schools.
‘We have to fight, there is no future for us under capitalism.
‘We have to get rid of imperialism and go forward to socialism.’
Chagos Islanders Community Association Chair Hengride Permal said: ‘Every day people are fighting for their rights.
‘We are fighting because they took our islands away from us.
‘We were put in a boat. Our pets were slaughtered and we were dumped in the slums of Mauritius and the Seychelles.
‘We are still fighting. We won the right to return to our island in the court.
‘The government appealed. We appealed again and won but the government went to the House of Lords which said we don’t have the right to return to our island.’
She added: ‘They gave us a British passport in 2002 but they said not all our children are British.
‘Families are divided. I am very angry.
‘When we came here we were treated badly because we don’t speak very good English.
‘They took our home, they broke up our families and now they are saying to us “come back when you speak English”.
‘We have come together to help each other to fight this.
‘We are calling for the right to go back to our island.
‘We want British passports so families can be united again.
‘We want you all to come to our rally on October 3rd, we need your support.’
Young Tamil, Benedict told the meeting: ‘What is taking place in Sri Lanka is a genocide against the Tamil people.
‘They are killing women and children.
‘We thank you for your support against this war of genocide.’
WRP General Secretary Frank Sweeney said: ‘This May Day echoes the words of Karl Marx “let the bourgeoisie tremble at the communistic revolution”.
‘The bourgeoisie sure is trembling, the capitalist system has had its back broken.
‘This is a historic crisis, a revolutionary crisis.
‘There is a movement developing to sweep the imperialists aside.
‘But this victory is dependent on building a revolutionary leadership.
‘We are building the Workers Revolutionary Party and the International Committee of the Fourth International.
‘We have to build our party to beat imperialism.
‘This May Day we remember our friends.
‘The Palestinian people have been dispersed and starved but they are resistant, they are revolutionary.
‘The Palestinians in the West bank are suffering as much as in Gaza.
‘But the imperialist powers are holding a siege on Gaza, not just the Zionists.
‘But nothing is going to destroy the determination of the Palestinian people.
‘They are an inspiration to people across the world on how to fight.
‘We also pay our respects to the Tamil Tigers.
‘They are defending the Tamil people. Without the Tigers hundreds of thousands, not thousands, of Tamils would have been killed.’
Sweeney added that the war had been going on for decades but the crisis has meant the imperialists can no longer go on financing the Sri Lanka regime’s war.
‘They don’t have the money and now the Rajapakse government is having to attack the Sinhalese people, too.’
He stressed to ‘our Tamil friends, the only way the Tamil people will be able to set up their own state is through going all the way to socialism.’
He continued: ‘We are for the expulsion of all imperialist forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.’
He added that the conditions for this have been created by the economic crisis.
He said: ‘In the US, 600,000 workers are losing their jobs every month, and workers are losing their healthcare.
‘There’s a revolution developing in America.
‘At General Motors, Obama said wages and conditions weren’t cut enough, and that all trade union agreements should be scrapped.
‘This is not going to happen, there’s a huge anger among workers in the States.
‘The same thing is happening throughout the world.
‘They are talking about revolution in France. Greece and Spain are not far behind. Ireland is being driven into poverty.
‘Britain is the most bankrupt of all capitalist countries.
‘We’ve a government that has sided with the bankers.
‘Millions face losing their jobs, people face losing their hospitals and healthcare.
‘Conservative with a small ‘c’ workers are becoming very revolutionary.
‘The Chartist movement went from peaceful petitions to armed insurrection.’
He added that, today, the police are fearful of millions of people marching over losing their jobs and homes.
‘The collapse in Britain is the biggest ever known,’ he warned. What is emerging for millions is either socialism or barbarism.
‘That’s what we face. We have to take up the struggle for socialism.’
He concluded: ‘Our party has a spotless banner.
‘A great revolutionary confrontation is developing and we have to build the instrument to take us all the way to victory.
‘This party is going to go all the way with workers to seize power and establish socialism.’