Thursday 2 May 2013

May Day – in London and in Abuja

In Britain, the trade union movement does not have the strong tradition of mass mobilisation for May Day seen in some other countries. (see, for example, the inspiring international reports on

As usual, London's Turkish and Kurdish communities were well-represented on the May Day march

Nevertheless, a lively May Day demonstration marched to Trafalgar Square in London. Christine Blower, NUT General Secretary, was one of the platform speakers at the rally.

At today’s NUT National Executive I took the opportunity to contrast our ability to demonstrate freely in London on International Workers’ Day with the situation in some other parts of the world. In particular, I drew attention to the detention of socialists in Nigeria at May Day rallies yesterday for daring to issue leaflets protesting against corruption and fraud. (see report on


Fellow NUT NEC member, Peter Glover, and myself sent the following protest letter to the Deputy High Commissioner of Nigeria this morning:

May 2 2013


Dear Deputy High Commissioner

We write as members of the National Executive of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teaching union in Europe, in response to a press release that we have received containing the shocking news that twelve members of the DSM organisation were arrested yesterday while participating in May Day rallies. We will be raising our concerns about these arrests today at our meeting of the NUT National Executive in London.

To the hundreds of thousands of trade unionists across the world who participated in such rallies yesterday, the actions of the State Security Service and Police in detaining these activists will be met internationally as a sign of a shameful lack of genuine democracy within Nigeria. If, as we understand, these actions were taken to silence activists questioning corruption and fraud, then this will only add to the outrage that the Nigerian government is not prepared to tolerate any criticism.

Rather than investigating these genuine concerns, commonly held by many members of the Nigerian community in Britain, these actions suggest that the Nigerian Government is intent on acting to threaten and to try to silence its critics.

We demand the immediate and unconditional release of those currently detained.


Martin Powell-Davies, Member of the NUT National Executive for Inner London, UK.

Peter Glover, Member of the NUT National Executive for Cheshire/Merseyside, UK.

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