The International Workers’ Day falls on the 1st of May. The JVP, as usual, has organized a gigantic May Day demonstration and a rally. An issue has come up regarding the legacy of the May Day. The May Day is a day of the working masses. It is a day the working masses all over the world carry out struggles to win their rights. It belongs to the working masses and the left parties only. Capitalist parties in our country too celebrate the May Day. They distort the real meaning of the May Day. They celebrate green and blue may days instead of the Red May Day. The capitalist parties that slashed the rights of the working masses and use every mean to suppress the working class have made the May Day a revelry. The UNP that brutally suppressed the 1980 general strike and sacked thousands of striking workers is commemorating the May Day. The SLFP and the Rajapaksa clique have to get participants intoxicated to commemorate the May Day, says the General Secretary of the JVP Tilvin Silva speaking at a press conference held at the head office of the JVP at Pelwatta on the 11th. The Member of the Political Bureau of the JVP K.D. Lal Kantha too was present.
Mr Tilvin Silva further said, “The present administrations not only do not grant rights of the working masses but they also slash the rights the working masses have won through struggle. The present government slashed the pension of the state employees, just like the previous government the present government too swindles the EPF. Laws are made to change the eight-hour working day. They have been delayed due to the struggles of the working masses. The UNP, the SLFP and the Rajapaksa clique that suppress the working class have no moral right to commemorate the May Day. Crowds are amassed by intoxicating them. Those who attend their demonstrations and rallies too are not aware of the true meaning of the May Day.
In fact, what is this May Day? By the end of the 19th century, large numbers of workers were employed in factories. They had to work long hours sometimes 14 or 16 hours. They did not have any sanitary facilities or any rights. A group of workers carried out an agitation in Chicago on 1st May 1886 demanding an eight-hour working day. The rulers got the police to attack the agitators and suppressed the agitation. Another agitation was held protesting against police attack on 4th May. A group of workers’ leaders who lead the struggle were arrested, tried and hanged. Based on this incident the Second International of Socialist Parties in 1889 took a decision to commemorate the 1st of May as the day of the working masses. This is why the May Day is a day that belongs to the working masses and the left parties.
Why is the flag used on a May Day red? The white flags carried by workers at Haymarket Square on 1st May 1886 turned to red with the blood of the workers who were beaten by the police. This is why red became the colour of the working class. The capitalist parties that are not aware of this history or intentionally forget it use the May Day for their selfish political interests. We ask them not to distort the May Day. It was the JVP that introduced the tradition of commemorating the May Day to Sri Lanka. Only the JVP holds a militant, disciplined, colourful May Day celebration that struggles for the rights of the working masses. This year too we are holding a militant, disciplined and colourful May Day.
However, there is a difference this year. As the May Day falls during the Wesak week the government has postponed the May Day commemoration to the 7th. The government has no right to do so. However, there is an obstacle in commemorating the May Day due to Wesak. For, bringing large crowds for May Day activities would be an obstacle for the Wesak celebrations held in Colombo. As such, we have arranged to hold the May Day in Jaffna on the 1st of May and hold a gigantic May Day rally in BRC grounds on the 7th May after a demonstration that will commence from Campbell Park in Colombo.
At present, the working masses are confronted with many difficulties. Due to the new tax bill, the working masses have to pay taxes for their salaries. The government, on advice from the World Bank and IMF, is slashing the rights of all the masses in the country. The local production is being hampered. Politics in the country has deteriorated. People in the country have lost their rights. The government has not been able to give any relief to the people even during the Sinhalese – Tamil New Year. There is an anarchic situation in the country. The government has forgotten the mandate given to it due to the power struggle that exists within it. Due to the neo-liberal economic policy followed by the government people’s rights are being slashed. The people have a responsibility to protect their rights. There are also many rights that have to be won. The working masses in this country should become the rulers in the country. A government of the working masses should be built. It is necessary to have a government that protects democracy, national unity and equality. The working masses should be the vanguard that builds a new society. The May Day should be made a day of struggle to achieve this.
The theme of the JVP for this year’s May Day would be “People’s rule for Social justice and National Unity”. We call upon all the people in this country not to go behind the capitalist political parties that despoil the May Day. Already, capitalist parties have retreated from holding May Day commemorations. Mahinda Rajapaksa has taken the May Day commemoration away from Colombo. The UNP is to hold only a rally without a demonstration. No one knows what the SLFP is going to do. Due to internal conflicts, it may not hold any May Day commemoration. A situation has come that these capitalist parties can no longer deceive the working masses. It is a victory for the working masses. It is the JVP that would commemorate the may Day with the true spirit of it. As such, we invite working masses in this country to join the militant, disciplined, colourful May Day commemorations held by the JVP in Jaffna on the 1st and Colombo on the 7th.”