Have you ever heard of MayDay, the global workers’ day of celebration: a tradition born in the USA, mummified in Russia and China, and neglected in Europe during the rise of neoliberalism and the all-too moderate politics of trade unionism? Its no surprise if MayDay means nothing to you, because in the Netherlands it has devolved into nothing more than a sad opportunity for social democrats to celebrate the roots of their political class.
But in the last few years, flexible and precarious workers from all across Europe have again begun to inject new vitality and meaning into MayDay celebrations – targeting the post-industrial economy and the different forms of precarious labour (both paid and unpaid) it reproduces. Within a few years, Euromayday has succeeded in amplifying and networking sites of labour conflict across Europe. From Milan to London, Ljubljana to Helsinki, different social groups have come and joined the EuroMayDay mobilizations: flex/temp/intermittent workers, students, unemployed, migrant workers without papers, sexworkers, researchers, hackers, artists and performers, domestic workers and free-lancers.
This year, for the first time, a collection of local groups have been organizing to build Amsterdam as a node in this emerging EuroMayDay network. We want this MayDay to be the starting point and locus for a new tradition of conflict here in the Netherlands – a day to rebel against the necessity of work, to fight social precarity and the different ways it disciplines and subjugates our everyday lives to the imperatives of the market. A day where we can experiment in creating new, shared imaginaries and practices – beyond the limitations of the trade unions and the unifying ´working class´ rhetoric of the traditional left – from which we can demand the freedom to shape our lives. Let’s begin it together on 1 May!