No. 140 Mayday – Still fighting for a shorter working week!

NSSN ebulletin 140

MAY DAY is the traditional celebration of international working-class solidarity. Its origins lie in great struggles in the late 19th century and the martyrdom of workers’ leaders executed in Chicago in 1887. DAVE NELLIST, a member of the NSSN anti-cuts committee, explains the fighting origins of May Day. As relevant today as it has been in the past.

WORKERS HAD long struggled for shorter hours. In England women and children were granted the ten-hour day in 1847. French workers won the 12-hour day after the February 1848 revolution.

In 1886 in America, 350,000 workers in more than 11,000 establishments downed tools demanding an eight-hour day. The centre of that movement was in Chicago, the fastest growing city of its day. It had a huge, developing factory system where workers worked between ten and 18 hours a day.

In 1868, after the Civil War, the US Congress passed an eight-hour law but it was enforced only twice. A Minnesota railway was fined just $25 in 1886 for making its workers work more than 18 hours a day.

Workers took matters into their own hands. In 1872 100,000 workers in New York struck and won the eight-hour day, mostly for building trades workers.

The Eight-Hour Movement launched by workers’ organisations was given vigorous new life in 1884 when the new Federation of Organised Trades and Labour Unions of the United States and Canada resolved: “Eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labor from and after 1 May 1886.

“Unless employers institute eight-hour days, the union will stop work at those plants. Across the nation, if necessary.”

In 1885, the Federation’s convention reaffirmed its position: the eight-hour day was coming on 1 May 1886. In Chicago, the International Working People’s Association (IWPA), led by Albert Parsons and August Spies, claimed thousands of members and published five newspapers in three languages.

In 1885, one of the workers’ leading union organisations, the Knights of Labour, planned rallies and demonstrations for the following May to enforce a law that the employers, especially the railway barons, treated with contempt. The slogan was, in the words of one of the songs of that movement: “Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will.”

THE UNIONS grew fast. In 1885 The Knights of Labour increased its membership seven-fold to 700,000. The capitalists were increasingly frightened at the prospect of widespread strikes.

The New York Herald wrote about Wall Street’s worries: “Two hours, taken from the hours of labour, throughout the United States by the proposed eight-hour movement, would make a difference annually of hundreds of millions in values, both to the capital invested in industries and existing stocks.”

On 1 May 1886, in the first national general strike in US history, 500,000 took part in demonstrations across the country – For rest of article read here



Join us at the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) 7th national annual conference – We already have several bookings from keen trade unionists to take part.

11am-5pm, Saturday June 29th, Camden Centre, Judd Street, London, WC1H 9JE – initial speakers confirmed: union general secretaries Mark Serwotka PCS, Billy Hayes CWU and Steve Gillan POA. We will have 4 workshops – Fighting for the NHS, Building the Housing front, Blacklisting & Organising & ‘Sick of your Boss’.

BOOK NOW £6. Cheques can be made payable to ‘National Shop Stewards Network’ – either email [email protected] or reply to PO Box 54498, London E10 9DE Leaflet & letter for union branches, shop stewards committees, trades councils, anti-cuts campaigns is on the resources page of the website. This is the conference to organise the urgent fightback in the unions with a clear NO CUTS policy!

New NSSN NHS Bulletin (no.3) now out! Plus new NSSN conference flyer! Please let us know if you need supplies

Stop Press! – Wales Shop Stewards Network Conference – “All out together – TUC call a general strike!” – from 10-4 on Saturday June 8 in The Maldron Hotel, 100 yards from Cardiff Central station, St Mary Street, Cardiff, CF10 1GD

Thanks to several branches and trades councils for affiliating. Please also affiliate and donate



Tax workers’ union supports UK Uncut legal fight (2 May) – UK Uncut Legal Action’s high court challenge to the deal struck between HM Revenue Customs and Goldman Sachs is an important part of the campaign against tax dodging more

Gove and advisers ignored evidence on office closures (1 May) – Education secretary Michael Gove’s civil servants will walk out on strike this afternoon in opposition to the closure of half of his department’s offices more

Mutualisation of ideological team proves lack of appetite (1 May) – The lack of appetite from civil servants to become part of a ‘mutual’ is proved today (1) by the announcement the next in line for part-privatisation is a small team wedded to the Cabinet Office’s ideology more

PCS ‘public service group’: 1 hour stoppage on Friday May 10 – Parts of the civil service which are classified as “public services” by the state are taking one-hour strike action on Friday 10th May. It includes: British Council, Department for International Development, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and others



RMT slams Orkney Ferries over “complete contempt” for workforce in long-running pay dispute – RMT today slammed managements complete contempt for the workforce in a long-running dispute over pay justice on Orkney Ferries and warned that that arrogant and bullying attitude of the company could force an escalation of the current action more

RMT to ballot all Northern Rail staff for strike action in casualisation dispute – RMT said today that it will begin balloting all members on Northern Rail next week for strike action in a dispute over the casualisation of core rail work in a bid by the company to undermine job security, pay and working conditions more

RMT May Day protests target rail cuts and social dumping in shipping industry as union’s build for General Strike (April 30) – RMT will be turning the spotlight on rail cuts and social dumping this May Day as the fight to stop the savagery of the McNulty rail review, and the exploitation at sea, is ramped up more

London transport Mitie engineers and electricians balloted for action (April 26) – RMT confirmed today that electricians and engineers working for contractors Mitie on the TFL contract are to be balloted for strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute over redundancies and unilateral changes to working conditions more

New ‘London Calling’ RMT April Newsletter more – includes update on 33 sacked Trainspeople agency workers – come to their protest on Friday May 3rd at 8am – District line entrance Edgware Road



Manchester airport cleaners to take 24-hour strike tomorrow (2 May) – Manchester Airport cleaning staff working for Mitie, one of the biggest cleaning companies in the UK, will take part in 24-hour strike action from tomorrow (Friday 3 May) over an attack on their terms and conditions more

One Housing management justify pay cuts for low paid staff: ‘the market is the market’ (May 1) – At an ‘information’ meeting for One Support staff threatened with pay cuts management dismissed concerns that services would be damaged by a loss of experienced and skilled staff. more




GMB to Consult Members at Circle Anglia  – GMB to Consult Members at Circle Anglia in Bishop’s Stortford Over Unfair Dismissal Of GMB Shop Steward And Cuts To Terms And Conditions Of Employment. The allegations against the GMB Shop Steward are vigorously refuted and defended by GMB at the disciplinary process which reeked of double standards more



Fourth Post Office strike announced for Tuesday May 7 (30th April) – A fourth round of strike action has been called by the Communication Workers Union for the whole of Tuesday affecting the country’s network of 373 Crown Post Offices. Management want to slash the network by 20%, impose a pay freeze and are refusing to negotiate with the union. This full day of strike action is part of a dispute over closures, franchising, jobs and pay. Management continue to refuse to negotiate, despite their financial arguments being proved wrong with their calculations out by more than £6 million and their closure and franchising plans meeting opposition across the country more

Strong support for Post Office strike (29th April) – CWU members working in the country’s 373 Crown Post Offices have overwhelmingly supported strike action this afternoon more


NUT / NASUWT– Public Rallies for Education:-

Saturday 11 May – Birmingham  11.00am – 12.30pm

Location: ICC, Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EA

Speakers: Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary and Kevin Courtney, NUT Deputy General Secretary.

Saturday 11 May 2 – Leeds 11.00am – 12.30pm

Location: Hilton Leeds City Hotel, Neville Street, Leeds, LS1 4BX

Speakers: Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary and Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT Deputy General Secretary.

Saturday 18 May – Cardiff  11.00am – 12.30pm

Location: Motorpoint Arena, Mary Ann Street, Cardiff, CF10 2EQ

Speakers: Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary and Kevin Courtney, NUT Deputy General Secretary.


Saturday 18 May – Newcastle 11.00am – 12.30pm

Location: Centre for Life, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4EP

Speakers: Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary and Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT Deputy General Secretary.



NORTH-WEST REGIONAL STRIKE and LONDON MARCH & RALLY ON JUNE 27 – Michael Gove’s announcement that he plans to attack our holidays and conditions, on top of his attacks on pay, have angered teachers’ right across the country. In the North-West, those attacks will only encourage an even stronger response to the call for joint NUT / NASUWT regional strike action on June 27th. Over 500 teachers packed into rallies in both Liverpool and Manchester on April 27. Reps left inspired and even more determined to bring out every school on strike. In London, according to the calendar of action agreed at NUT Conference, teachers will not be called out on strike until the autumn. However, we can all play our part in building publicity for our campaign this term more from Martin Powell Davies’s blog – NUT NEC report



Unions say 0.5% pay offer for college staff is unacceptable (25 April) – Unions representing staff in English further education colleges said a 0.5% pay offer made at the first round of pay negotiations yesterday was not acceptable more


Blacklisting & victimisation

Gerry Downing has won his a appeal after he was summarily dismissed on Tuesday 12th by Metroline Travel at its Cricklewood bus garage in London

Man City football club in blacklisting protest (02 May) – Unite, together with blacklisted workers, will stage a protest outside Manchester City Football Club (MCFC) to raise awareness that BAM, the construction company redeveloping the club, is involved in blacklisting more

Crossrail chief under fire for blacklisting (01 May) – Unite, together with blacklisted workers will stage a major protest tomorrow (Thursday 2 May) against Crossrail chief Andrew Wolstenholme for allowing blacklisting to take place on Europe’s biggest construction project more

Blacklisting Debate at Scottish Parliament May 2nd – Here is the Facebook event for the debate on the 2nd May. Please forward and spread the word. Thanks. more

International see also Labourstart

Swaziland police make illegal house arrest – A senior trade union leader in Swaziland was illegally placed under house arrest today (1 May 2013) by police who wanted to prevent him attending a May Day rally more

Please protest immediately! – Nigeria: Twelve members of Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) have been today arrested in Abuja, Anambra, Oyo, Niger and Kaduna states at May Day events. While those arrested Ibadan and Minna have been released those in Abuja, Anambra and Kaduna are still (May 1) being detained variously by State Security Service (SSS) and police – Please email letters of protest to [email protected] addressed to Mrs J.C. Ejere, administrative attaché to the deputy high commissioner. Mark them for the attention of the deputy high commissioner more

Petition to Wal-Mart, H&M and Gap: Do your part to stop the murders of garment workers in Bangladesh – Join us in calling on Wal-Mart, H&M and Gap, the largest buyers of clothing made in Bangladesh, to make immediate safety improvements in their supplier factories by joining the legally-binding Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement. All three retailers have been involved in the scourge of factory disasters in Bangladesh more


International Workers Day – May Day events – see Diary and here

Scottish events here

Belfast events celebrating May Day and the Dublin Lock-out here


Legal Aid Support Haldane Society Campaign against Legal Aid Cuts (02 May) – The Haldane Society has released a document in opposition to further legal aid cuts, which is in line with the IER’s viewpoint on the restriction of access to justice. Please take some time to read the Society’s consultation response and standard letter and support them in their campaign here




2 ‘The Thatcher years’ month long anti austerity festival opens with an photographic exhibition by Dave Sinclair, charting some of the fightback against Thatcher. (Richmix, E1

4 Cardiff, Swansea, Nottingham & Brighton  TC Mayday Rally & March

5 Ipswich Trades Council May Day Festival12 noon with Tony Lennon SERTUC, Peter Kavanagh Unite, Paul Moffatt CWU, Nancy Taaffe NSSN.

7 Dying for the Vote suffragette Emily Wilding Davison Centenary exhibition in Ewell, Surrey to 27 July Irene [email protected].

8 Lobby Brighton and Hove Council Housing Committee – NO to the Bedroom Tax!

3:30pm Hove Town Hall

11 Lewishams Carnival against cuts.

12 Don’t Mention the 47 Documentary & discussion at Richmix, London (£7/4) plus other events that day including Unite Housing workers, ‘How to stop the housing cuts & what are the alternatives?’ Radicals & Revolutionaries walk (£5/£2) of the East End, 3pm ScriptReadEast (£4).

13 Counihan-Sanchez campaign Open meeting @ The Albert, NW6

 14 The Institute of Employment Rights & The Haldane Society invite you to hear: Frances O’Grady General Secretary TUC In conversation with Sharan Burrow, General Secretary ITUC – Trade unions at work globally: offering an alternative to austerity Chair: John Hendy QC – 6.30pm At the Diskus Conference Centre, UNITE House, 128 Theobolds Road, London WC1X 8TN – Nearest Tube Holborn

18 Fight the NHS cuts London march [email protected]



8 Confronting the Climate Crisis – Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union group, from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM (PDT) London Metropolitan University, Stapleton House 277 Holloway Road N7 8HN London more


22 People’s Assembly – Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, London, Westminster, London SW1H 9NH – for regional meetings more

29 7th annual conference of the NSSN – 11am-5pm Camden Centre, Judd Street, London, WC1H 9JE more



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Secretary: Linda TaaffeEmail: [email protected]

Phone: 07952 283 558

NSSNPO Box 54498, London E10 9DE