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(en) Canada, Anarchist Report from May Day in Vancouver by the May Day Anarchist Organizing Group

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 13 May 2004 13:24:12 +0200 (CEST)

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On May 1st of 2004, a small anarchist contingent joined about
10,000 workers at the May Day march and rally in downtown
Vancouver which was organized by the BC Federation of Labour.
The May Day Anarchist Organizing Group had come together
and made a call-out for an anarchist contingent at the march,
since we did not want to allow the union bureaucrats to totally
co-opt and corrupt the spirit of May Day. Our goal was simply to
have an anarchist presence at the event, with respect to May
Dayâ??s anarchist history, to unify our forces and connect with
rank-and-file workers. We also took the initiative to organize an
independent, anti-capitalist May Day parade on Commercial
Drive later in the day.

In the week leading up to May Day, health care workers across
the province had gone on strike and defied the governmentâ??s
back-to-work legislation. Union and non-union workers in both
the public and private sectors of the economy had gone on wildcat
strike in solidarity with the health care workers and in response to
the generalized attack of the Liberal government on all working
and unemployed people in BC. This naturally added a lot of
energy and potential to this yearâ??s May Day.

About 10 masked-up anarchists gathered at the beginning of the
BC Fed event, with black flags and arm shields which also served
as percussion. Union marshals stood around next to the
anarchists and then began to follow them as the march began.
Some unknown comrades had spray-painted 'General
Strike' slogans on walls near the meeting point, and a large
banner with the words 'General Strike. Solidarity is our
Weapon.' was hanging from some trees.

Another small crew of anarchists with black-and-red flags met up
with the first group and formed a contingent. Together they
initiated chants such as 'General Strike' and 'What's
the solution? Revolution!', while also using their batons and
flag poles to bang on newspaper boxes. Another 'General
Strike' banner was spotted hanging from a building along the
route of the march.

There were a few negative comments from some demonstrators
towards the anarchist contingent, but most people were either
curious (and asked questions) or showed signs of support
(thumbs up etc.)

Towards the end of the march the anarchists burned an effigy of
Prime Minister Paul Martin which a union worker had handed to
them. This attracted the attention of a bike cop who said
something to the effect of 'Nice to see you guys. Now leave.'

Since the anarchists were uninterested in listening to the union
bureaucrats' speeches they dissolved into the rally at the Art
Gallery and left the scene.

Later in the afternoon, about 60 people took part in the
un-permitted anti-capitalist May Day parade on Commercial
Drive, chanting 'We can't wait until the next election!
General Strike! Insurrection!'

In reference to the recent police 'crack down' in the area,
and the string of attacks on the neighbourhood's Community
Policing station, the demonstrators chanted 'No more pigs in
our communities! Burn â?~em down!'

A comrade also made a couple of short speeches during the
march, reminding us of May Day's anarchist roots and the
police repression that Chicago anarchists faced more than 100
years ago.

A few angry motorists attempted to drive through the crowd, but
were blocked from doing so. The march stopped at major traffic
intersections to maximize disruption, but unfortunately there
were no direct actions carried out along the route. Nonetheless,
an angry and rebellious spirit was evident and several new faces
took part (the majority of those in the march were not anarchists,
but were people from the neighbourhood). There were no
marshals, media spokespeople or police liaisons appointed. The
event was organized autonomously. It was also the first
specifically anarchist-organized May Day event in years.
Previously, anarchists had simply participated in May Day
marches put on by other organizations.

The following day, a group of anarchists returned to the picket
lines at St. Paul's hospital that they had been supporting for
several days. Railway workers walked off the job and everyone
was preparing for the General Strike which was supposed to take
place the next day.

A General Strike was called off at the last minute by the BC
Federation of Labour. A deal cut between the BC Fed and the
Liberal government enforced 15% percent wage cuts, 600 layoffs,
and a longer work week for health care employees. The unions
and the government collaborated at the workers' expense.

On May 3rd, the town of Quesnel was almost totally shut down
by wildcat strikes. Cross-picketing by hospital workers in
Nanaimo, Victoria, and on Salt Spring Island disrupted bus and
ferry services. Teachers in Victoria walked off the job, and
hospital workers in Kelowna tore up their picket signs and threw
them at their union representative. Hospital Employees Union
offices were picketed by union members in Burnaby and Victoria.

An anarchist group waved black flags outside the Vancouver
General Hospital and passing motorists honked in support and
yelled 'General Strike!'. As the day went on, workers came
out to the line and expressed their anger at the union bureaucrats
and politicians. This rage was restated at a noon rally on the front
steps of the hospital, during which workers aggressively pushed
corporate journalists out of the area.

On May 4th, eight high school students in Prince Rupert walked
out of a class and marched to City Hall and the local hospital in
solidarity with health care workers.

At 8am on the morning of May 7th, union members and their
supporters set up a hard picket line at the entrance to the BC
Federation of Labour office in Burnaby, preventing bureaucrats
from entering the building. On the other hand, workers (including
postal employees) respected the picket line and bus drivers
honked in support.

Despite their best efforts, the unions have not succeeded in
completely crushing workers' resistance. The possibility of
ongoing worker self-organization and wildcat action is on the

Wildcat Strikes Sweep Across BC:
copied from infoshop.org

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