May Day 2006: Swedish demonstrations not indicative of opposition to government attacks

CWI members campaign for an end to attacks and for a decent minimum wages in preparation for September elections

Despite being an election year, May Day was an example of the relatively low level of worker’s struggle in Sweden. This has nothing to do with workers’hatred of privatisation and the attacks on living standards but everything to do with the traitorous role of the trade union bureaucracy who have done nothing to stand up to the tidal wave of attacks on Swedish workers carried through by the Social Democratic government.

Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna, CWI Sweden, took part in demonstrations in several cities. In Luleå and Umeå we were co-organisers of the demonstrations, and in Gothenburg the material we produced on the anniversary of the Spanish revolution was much appreciated.

In Stockholm, 4-5,000 marched with the Left Party (ex- Communist Party). The numbers marching under the banners of the national trade union federation (LO) and the Social Democratic Party were even lower than on the Left Party demonstration. A Social Democratic newspaper, Dala-Demokraten explained the reason for the fall in numbers by saying “May Day is the day of the worker’s movement, but the number of demonstrations are declining, and so is the number of people participating. […]May Day is no longer a day of hope, but sooner a forgotten day. Most workers has lost faith in our movement, mostly due to that the party leaders have turned their backs on the common people.”

It is a difficult task for the Swedish Prime Minister to speak at all on any Mayday platform given the fact that many of their public statements these days boast about cuts and privatisation of the public sector conducted during the government.

Lars Ohly, leader of the Left Party, not suprisingly, completely avoided the opportunity of the Mayday demo to criticise the politics of the government. He just concluded that they and the governing Social Democrats didn’t agree on foreign policy – not a word about low wages, privatisation or the huge profits of big business fat cats – questions you might suspect that a left wing-party would disagree on. In contrast, Ingrid Eriksson’s (CWI Sweden local councillor in Umeå) speech in Umeå was quoted in the local paper: “Everyone should have an initial wage of at least 17,000 kronor” she said, concerning the wage campaign Rättviespartiet Socialisterna is running for employees in the public sector.

Over 200 members and supporters of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna took part in the Left Party’s demonstration in Stockholm, forming the most lively contingent. In total, we sold more than 500 papers and raised 18,000 kronor (€2,000).

Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna members also travelled to Oslo in Norway to attend the Mayday demo there receiving a warm repsonse for the idea of building a genuine socialist party there. One of the demonstrators who bought a copy of Offensiv (Paper of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna) commented that there has been a huge increase in polarisation of wealth and social injustice despite the massive increase in profits from oil.

This was not the only country which Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna members visited for Mayday. We also attended the demonstration, numbering tens of thousands, in Copenhagen where there was much interest from young people in our ideas.

In Sweden, May Day set the agenda for the elections, where Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna will be the only party that stands for socialist politics and points out the need of a new workers’ party.

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