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On May 1 in London, the traditional Mayday march from Clerkenwell Green to Trafalgar Square was followed up by demonstrations against the slave labour trade that left 700 dead in Bangladesh.
Activists from the Stop G8 Network held a series of loud and angry protests against Mango, Primark and Benetton stores in Oxford Street. Each of these companies is known to have sourced their clothes from the Rana Plaza factory. Protesters entered the shops and chanted about the continued exploitation of workers in Bangladesh and elsewhere.
Many leaflets were handed to people in the heaving shopping district and there was considerable interest and support. Most shoppers were deterred from entering the shops due to the large number of police and protesters standing in front of the entrances. The protesters emphasised that the disaster is just the latest incident in a series of such tragedies and that callous disregard for workers is part and parcel of global capitalism.
There were further protests against Primark in Hackney, Lewisham and Birmingham. In Bristol, the May Day Rally saw a large Red and Black presence leading march through the centre. The march stopped outside Primark and called for solidarity with Bangladeshi garment workers who died in the Rana Plaza factory. After the rally in Castle Park the Radical Workers block returned to Primark. Here they blockaded the entrance and turned many shoppers away., blockading the entrance and turning many shoppers away.
In Brighton, Sussex Stop G8 protested outside Primark in the city’s Western Road, while down the road in Lewes fellow campaigners opened a squatted social centre “for the disgruntled” in the High Street. They declared: “Everyone’s fed up with the way systems, governments and the greedy are messing everything up. We’re all disgruntled. The environment is being trashed. Austerity is ruining lives. Meanwhile, the filthy rich (including cabinet members) are getting even richer while others can’t afford to eat properly.”
Anti-capitalists in Worthing staged a mock guillotining of David Cameron and Fred “the Shred” Goodwin to promote J11 and the week of action in London. Stop G8 also held a public meeting in Oxford, as organising for the events gathers pace.
The convergence will begin on the weekend of June 8-9, with workshops and skillshares involving Green and Black Cross and Fitwatch in preparation for the J11 Carnival Against Capitalism on Tuesday June 11.
There will then be an anti-militarist protest on Wednesday June 12 and a No Borders No Prisons! day of actions on Thursday June 13, while on Friday June 14 They Owe Us plan to appear somewhere in Canary Wharf, to reclaim and transform a space, bringing beauty and hope to the soulless heart of capitalism.