Big, jubilant, mass May Day demos in Turkey despite the state of emergency

5 May 2017 7 years old
Big, jubilant, mass May Day demos in Turkey despite the state of emergency

(İhsan Çaralan, Evrensel, 02 May 2017)

Celebrations were held in many countries yesterday, on May Day, the day of unity, solidarity and struggle of the working class.

Workers chanted their demands, claiming the values of May Day and the ideals for a world without  exploitation and wars and for fraternity of humanity as a whole.

In Turkey, despite the state of emergency one of the biggest May Day celebrations of recent years took place in many towns, especially in industrial hotspots and working class neighbourhoods.

Different trade union confederations held their seperate events in different places, some refusing to attend the activites organised by another, and some just trying to brush over.

However, the gatherings in Gebze, an industrial town, and Ankara had a huge participation by workers and the following demands were highlighted:

* Proper severence pay, job security for public sector workers,

* No subcontracting, secure jobs,

* Prevention of deaths in workplaces,

* An end to the state of emergency, “No to one man rule”.

The sections of progressive democratic forces were dominated by slogans and placards refusing the results of the recent referendum, targetting the “One Man Rule” of Erdogan and his government , and objecting to the state of emergency, the Anti-Terror Law, and the rule by decrees.

We can say the following for the 2017 May Day in general:

  • Despite the state of emergency and local governments’ efforts to terrorize the political and social atmosphere, it was one of the biggest, the most widespread, and the most jubilant May Day celebrations of recent years.
  • The main weakness of this May Day was the weak participation of workers. This was mainly due to trade unions not trying, or even preventing, the active participation of workers on a strong platform based on common demands. The confederations Türk-İş, Hak-İş, Memur Sen and Kamu Sen tried to get only a symbolic participation of workers in their events.
  • The Confederatoin of Revolutioanry Workers Unions (DISK) and the Confederatoin of Public Sector Workers Unions (KESK) see themselves as the main representative of May Day. It would be best if everybody had this approach but in a way this led to the split of workers on May Day and played into the hands of those who were trying to divide the workers. These two confederations have a great responsibility to overcome this.

Finally, the May Day of 2017 could be praised for many of its aspects. However, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that  in the history of class struggle, this year’s May Day will be remembered as a day when the workers and progressive democratic forces of Turkey overcome the state of emergency, the repression and the political tensions, but not the trade union bureaucracy.

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