Author: Nottingham Indymedia
Tags: mayday work cuts gender
Notts Trade Union Council organised a march and rally in Nottingham to mark international workers’ day on Saturday 4th May. Trade unionists, anti-cuts activists, socialists and anarchists marched from the Forest Rec to Market Square where speeches were given. The tradition of dissent within the local labour movement continued where it left off last year, with both the prominence of Nottingham South Labour MP, Lillian Greenwood, and Socialist Workers Party loyalist, Richard Buckwell, being contested. Dissenters accused Greenwood of being a “scab” and “Just another Labour drone” whereas Buckwell was condemned for his support of the SWP Central Committee’s handling of rape allegations, leading one participant to conclude that the event was “not a safe space”.
In the run up to this year’s May Day event, a petition signed by over 100 people, requesting that the invitation to Richard Buckwell be withdrawn was handed to Notts Trades Council. “Richard B” had signed a statement in support of his party, the Socialist Workers Party’s Central Committee’s handling of rape allegations against a senior party figure by female members. According to those initiating the petition, Buckwell had supported “the assessment of a rape claim by a young female party member against a seasoned male party leader through a disciplinary committee laced with the accused’s close friends, the complete silencing of the voice of the accuser, and the labelling of mass party and community opposition to the proceedings as “unpolitical,” “feminist creep,” and seeking to set back the momentum of class struggle.”
Buckwell was one of those leading the May Day march, holding the Trades Council banner, and was given a platform at the rally. This resulted in “boos and walkings-off when ‘Richard B’ came forward to speak”. This led one participant to conclude:
“As for the Nottingham and Mansfield Trades Union Council, they appear to believe in unity at all costs. This is precisely the problem of a (still) male-dominated trade union movement that cannot allow a sliver of dissent and will happily side-line concerns from the wider activist community about a very serious gender issue – which means that a place we may wish to act can no longer be considered a ‘safe space’.”
In the run up to this year’s event, discontent over the Trades Council’s handling of last year’s was still evident. A private statement to last year’s keynote speaker, Sir Alan Meale, was leaked on Indymedia. According to the poster this was evidence of the Trades Council “toadying up to Meale and the Labour party whilst slandering those who protested as anti-trade union.”