This Tuesday 1st May, Staines Anarchists and friends will mark International Worker’s Day by protesting the use of workfare by companies on the high streets of Staines and Egham. If you see us out and about, then feel free to come and talk to us or join us in demonstration.
Workfare is a collection of 5 government schemes which aim to coerce the unemployed into working for free or lose their benefit entitlements. Despite what has been said in the mainstream media, there is no evidence that any of the workfare schemes have been scrapped and the threat of withdrawal of benefits for refusal still applies to at least 2 of the schemes.
Many companies have pulled out of the workfare schemes in the past few months, due to public outrage at such blatant exploitation. However, many companies are still participating in 1 or more of the schemes.
As part of actions taking place across the country, Staines Anarchists hope that tomorrows protest will help to further highlight the exploitation perpetrated by these companies and force more to withdraw from the schemes completely.
May Day – International Workers’ Day
The history of International Workers’ Day stretches back to Chicago in 1st May 1886 when workers in the city went on strike to demand an 8 hour working day. At a rally in Haymarket Square at the height of the strike, an unknown person threw a bomb at police lines. The police opened fire into the crowd indiscriminately killing or wounding many, including their own.
In the aftermath of the carnage 8 prominent trade unionists and anarchists were arrested and put on trial blamed with orchestrating the attack. Despite clear evidence that they were innocent, the state found them guilty. The court made it clear that it was their role in organising the strike which was actually on trial. In 1887, 4 of the 8 defendants were executed by hanging, another avoiding the hangman by taking his own life in prison. The other 3 languished in prison until 1893 when they were pardoned, their trial condemned as a travesty of justice; little consolation to those that had felt the noose.
In 1890, 1st May was declared International Workers’ Day by the labour movement in commemoration to those who had died in the wake of Haymarket and all others who had sacrificed themselves for the labour struggle. But May Day has also become a celebration of all the gains that workers in struggle have achieved. It is in this same spirit that we take to the streets this May 1st, in defiance of the exploitation of working class people and with the hope of a better future for all!