May Day! May Day! ‘Switch holiday’ call
04 May, 2018 — By Samantha Booth
Islington Trades Union Council supporters proudly display their banner at the Clerkenwell Green rally
WORKERS’ rights activists have called for May 1 to be made this month’s bank holiday as thousands of campaigners joined the annual May Day rally from Clerkenwell Green.
The May Day March, founded in 1890, celebrates International Workers’ Day, with supporters taking the traditional route to Trafalgar Square.
Harsev Bains, a trustee at the Marx Memorial Library, said this year was significant as tomorrow (Saturday) marked 200 years since Karl Marx was born.
Addressing the crowd before the march, Mr Bains said that the Labour Party had introduced a May Day holiday in 1978.
“But 40 years on, it would be nice to actually have a holiday on the day itself and that perhaps could be a demand from this rally,” he added. “Let’s make May Day an official holiday on May 1, not any date that suits our bosses. These things have to change.”
This year, organisers said there was focus on the recent Windrush immigration scandal, the Grenfell Tower fire and Brexit.
Islington Trades Union Council was among groups at Clerkenwell Green. Secretary Mick Gilgunn said: “We must always remember trade union rights are human rights. Locally, we’ve been campaigning on issues like the Whittington [Hospital] and housing like the Holloway [Prison] site.
“Our trades council is quite appalled that people who have lived and worked all their years in Britain – some were children at the time and came with their parents – have now been victimised.”