More than a hundred people gathered at the Vismarkt in Groningen on the first day of May. Most were young, dressed in ragged jeans or leather, often with hand-sewn patches, pins, stickers, wearing bandanas over their faces. Even though International Labour Day is not often heard of in the Netherlands, a group of local, left-wing organisations (Groningen Feminist Network, Groninger Studentenbond, Vrije Bond Groningen, etc.) thought it is important to use that day to protest.
The march walked through the city to reach Noorderplantsoen. There, representatives of the organising entities held a few speeches about the purpose of the protest. There was also an info fair and a meal served by the Kraaienkeuken. “We see the train strikes, struggle of the workers at Albert Heijn, inner city in Groningen being gentrified, prices skyrocketing – it’s time to fight back,” stated one of the speakers. Alongside the expressions of solidarity with Flink drivers’ protest and the students’ occupation of the UG, some speeches also involved more traditional socialist slogans. “Protests, such as the ones in France or Iran, can kindle the movement of the working class; it is important to fight against the system, not just a single ruler,” said a representative of Internationale Socialiste Groningen.
What brought together all those organisations was the aim of having a Mayday protest for workers’ and working class’ rights in Groningen. “I think it turned out really well,” says Jelle, 24, from Groningen. He appreciates the fact that there is an event for the 1st of May and that there are some protesters present. Why demonstrate? Financial issues are at the forefront: difficulties in renegotiating CAO (collective labour agreements) or increasing prices and rents are some of the things protesters mention most frequently. “The citizens must speak up when they have an opinion,” adds Puk, 45, who came to the march from Leeuwarden.
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