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Celebrate May Day with commitment to the struggle

Written by: Nick G. on 1 May 2023


May Day is revered as the day that workers around the world hold in common as the day of their class.

It is the day on which they renew their conviction that capitalism must be replaced with a system that will abolish the exploitation of people and the environment by the owners of capital.

It is the day on which they put on display their internationalist support for each other’s struggles.

It must be the day on which we, in Australia, renew our commitment to the development of a genuinely revolutionary mass movement with the objective of achieving anti-imperialist national independence and socialism.

That commitment must proceed from the reality that these objectives will not be fought for by the Australian Labor Party. Despite its current status as the more popular of the two major parliamentary parties, it will not implement policies for working people that are fundamentally opposed to the big corporations, both local and from overseas. Its agenda is framed within limits that accept the permanence of capitalism, and are channeled through the institution designed to serve capitalism – parliament.

This outlook extends to the majority of unions, many of which are affiliated to the ALP and are under pressure from the parliamentary wing not to upset the applecart or in any way, to embarrass the Labor governments, state and Federal.

Some class conscious workers want the unions to win back the right to strike. They can’t understand why the unions are not fighting harder for this, and whether they would even use it if it were restored.

The unions are important collective organisations of workers. They have legal status as defensive organisations of the workers, with limited rights to defend and (a recognised right to) advocate improvements in wages and conditions. Even these few rights have been eroded. Unions operate within a capitalist legal industrial system designed to protect bosses’ exploitation of workers and profits. Experience shows that workers’ victories are won through our own collective action on the ground, not by relying on the bosses’ courts and the ALP.

Unions are also registered organisations with assets and investments whose officials enjoy high salaries.

Their leaders generally fear the consequences of crossing the lines of legality. 

There is very little evidence of a daring to struggle, very few who are prepared to accept, as did John Cummins of the BLF and CFMEU, that “…it is an occupational hazard for union officials to be arrested and go to gaol.”

Cummo, a leader of our Party, walked that walk.

But workers and their militant unions have a long and proud history of fighting and breaking the bosses’ laws to defend and advance the interests of the working class.

When we talk about a renewal of commitment on the occasion of May Day, it is a commitment to objectives that are independent of the restraints that the ALP and union officialdom seek to impose. 

It is a commitment to resist the ALP shifting capitalist economic crises and imperialist war on the shoulders of the working class.

It is a commitment to an independent working class agenda, driven by rank and file workers and controlled by them. 

It is a commitment to restore rank and file militant unionism to the union movement.


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