Brazil: Mayday 2007 – Uniting the left against neoliberal attacks in São Paulo

Five thousand march to link all the struggles of the oppressed

About five thousand joined this year’s left demo on 1st of May in São Paulo. While the two big trade union federations, CUT and Força Sindical, normally attract huge crowds with famous music bands and by lotteries with cars and apartments as prizes, the left demo for years now has fought to rebuild the fighting tradition that the CUT (dominated by the PT, Lula’s Workers’ Party) abandoned.

This year’s demo marks an important step forward in building left unity to fight the neoliberal policies of Lula’s government. On the 25 March, six thousand workers, young people and students participated in a National Meeting that united different left opposition movements, like Conlutas and Intersindical, two trade union platforms that bring together trade unions that have broken links with CUT or are on the way to doing so. Conlutas (National Coordination of Struggles) also organises social movements, like the landless and roofless.

The National Meeting agreed on a ‘calendar of struggle’. A joint left 1 May was one of the issues discussed. The National Meeting also saw the presence of MST (Landless Rural Workers’ Movement) and CSC (the trade union current of PCdoB, Communist Party of Brazil, that have strong support in several CUT unions), and they also signed the call for the 1 May demo. This is very significant, as those two movements still have links with Lula’s government. The fact that they were at the National Meeting reflects the crisis and pressure from below that exists in these organisations, because of the ongoing neo-liberal attacks by Lula. Lula has made an agreement with the s have assured a more solid support of both faction of PMDB, the right wing party that is the biggest party in the country, that now have 5 ministers in Lula’s government.

Lula has used this stronger base of support in parliament to resume the attacks and neo-liberal reforms that got stuck in the mud after the big corruption crisis in 2005.

But the first year of Lula’s second mandate will not be like the first of the first mandate (2003), when the civil servants were isolated when Lula attacked their pension rights. This time organisations like CUT, MST and UNE (National Union of Students) will not have the same capacity to hold back struggle.

That is shown by the fact that these organisations have agreed to make a joint call for a national day of struggle on 23 May, with Conlutas and Intersindical, in opposition to the government’s financial policies and counter-reforms. They are forced to do something so that they do not lose the support of their own rank and file.

The 1 May demo was held under the slogan "In defence of pensions and social, trade union and labour rights". It was a colourful demo, with a big presence of MTST (Roofless Workers’ Movement) that at the moment is organising an occupation of more than three thousand families on a huge plot of land (1,2 million square metres).

Socialismo Revolucionário took part intervened with leaflets calling for the building of "Young Workers Movement", which in São Paulo started by organising activities outside Call Centres, trying to organise these super exploited youth. We sold hundreds of copies of our newspaper and a new badge saying "We are not machines", denouncing the inhuman working conditions in Call Centres.

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