May Day Enthusiasm despite Repression and Restrictions

Hundreds of millions of workers across the world took to the streets on the occasion of May Day and raised their voices for their demands and shouted out their outrage against capitalism. Workers gathered together and became of one heart against crises caused by capitalism, imperialist wars, unemployment, persecution and attempts to eliminate workers’ rights.

The Turkish working class met May Day under heavy attacks, pressure, bans and restrictions. Attacking the rights of workers the AKP government now seeks to pass a law that allows bosses to hire workers daily or weekly and establish a fund for severance payments which means that workers will be dismissed without severance pay and have to wait ten years for any payment, a less one if any. Police state and fascist practises have become part of daily life. Presidential system debates continue to rise together with the elimination of all kinds of democratic rights. In order to increase control over the people the government creates crises and chaos. Under these harsh conditions a scare campaign was carried out in relation to May Day, with bombings in different cities, news headlines of blast danger in May Day etc. The objective of these scenarios was to create panic amongst masses and prevent workers from participating in the May Day demonstrations against capitalist exploitation, repression and bans. The suicide bombing in Bursa two days before May Day, the bombing attack the very morning of May Day in Antep limited the participation, and police terror went on in Taksim on May Day. Besides, trade union confederations failed to organise a united, strong, massive demonstration and raise the burning demands of workers. Türk-İş and Hak-İş organised their meetings at the government’s disposal, compatible with its policies.

Despite the gloomy circumstances, tens of thousands of workers took to the streets across Turkey to celebrate May Day. In many cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Kocaeli, Gebze, Diyarbakır and Mersin workers were present in the rallies and cried out their outrage against unemployment, poverty, imperialist war, capitalist exploitation and grabbing of workers’ rights.

May Day in Gebze

The May Day demonstration in Gebze was organised by the Platform of Gebze Union Branhes composed of Gebze branches of many national unions. Petro-chemistry workers, metal workers, food industry workers, glass workers, teachers, students, political parties, democratic mass organisations took part in the rally. Once more, the massive and red-hot column of UID-DER had a strong impact on workers of Gebze. Arçelik-LG and ZF Sachs workers who occupied their factories last year during the revolt of metal workers were in the UID-DER column with their own banners. They chanted their slogans against exploitation and demanded freedom of organisation.

Gathering at early hours in Trafo Square workers began to chant their slogans. They carried placards that read “No to agency work”, “No to private employment bureaus”, “No to severance payment fund”, “Stop child abuse!” The workers marched chanting “We won’t be the slaves of bosses”, “Unity of workers will defeat capital”, “No to war, Peace right now”, “Long live May Day!” During the march the slogans of woman workers against femicide, violence against women and harassment echoed in Gebze streets.

The contingents arrived in the rallying square with the slogan “Long Live May Day!” After all columns entered the square the programme started with a minute of silence in memory of workers who lost their lives in workplace accidents and fighters in class struggle. Süleyman Akyüz, Chair of the Gebze branch of Petrochemical Workers Union, saluted the mass in the name of the Platform of Gebze Union Branches. He said “Against all odds, you have come with your determination and enthusiasm, welcome!” He reminded that May Day was a common struggle day in which workers raise their voices against exploitation and tyranny. In his speech in the name of the Platform of Gebze Union Branches, Akyüz said the attacks on workers’ rights have no bounds and the rulers who want to silence and scare workers are staging severe attacks.”

Akyüz went on his speech saying: “We gathered together here for the same goal. We are here as workers raising our voices against the system of wage slavery, regardless of being man or woman, public sector worker or private, subcontracted or regular, white-collar or blue-collar, registered or unregistered. We are determined to heighten our struggle against flexible-precarious work, severance payment fund and workplace accidents. We will not die in workplaces to swell the pockets of greedy bosses.” Akyüz addressed the problems of female workers and condemned violence against women and children. He ended his speech by saying “long live unity, struggle and solidarity, long live May Day, long live workers’ solidarity.”

During Akyüz’s speech about problems of working women, the banner of UID-DER Women’s Committee was read by the presenter on the platform: “Working Women to the Front Lines of Struggle! Stop violence against women! Lengthen the maternity leave! Ban night shifts! No workplace without nursery!”

The programme continued with music. Workers formed Halay circles arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, waved their flags, chanted their slogans with enthusiasm.

13 May 2016