LALIT's May Day celebrations began with a showing of the Charlie Chaplin film Modern Times at the Mother Earth Hall on Monday, which is a public holiday in Mauritius. The film was chosen for its general interest in these times of a new kind of work speed-up, and also because of the recent use of video cameras inside toilets in Mauritius, to prevent workers taking a few seconds off the assembly line at factories, a point which is played up in the film as a ridiculous possibility of the efficiency ethos. There has also been recruitment of multi-skilled workers here recently, and in particular waiters and waitresses in Rodrigues Island Hotels who are also called upon to sing and dance, just as in the Chaplin film, where the Tramp ends up singing the classic Nonsense Song. Not to mention the CMT use of roller skates on the assembly line: that too Charlie Chaplin showed in the film to be the burlesque comedy of the watchman in charge of five floors on a "grande surface".
The film-show, which started at 9.00 a.m. also permitted time for everyone to gather. In Mauritius, the major pro-capitalist parties, in Government and Parliamentary Opposition, are forced by the relative strength of the working class to use only workerist discourse, and even to pit their strengths against each other to see who can "get more people" at their Labour Day meetings. (The working class is then, in turn, not strong enough to force pro-working class politics from these parties.) For their May Day celebrations, they hire a huge proportion of the country's public transport, thus making it very difficult for everyone else to circulate independently. Having the film meant that people could gradually gather, with their families. People came from Cap Malheureux and Gokhoola in the North, from New Grove and Chemin Grenier in the South, from Flacq and Melrose in the East, from Rodrigues, and from Vacoas, Curepipe, Beau Bassin, Port Louis, Rose-Hill.
Unlike other political parties which bribe people to get into their hired buses on May Day by offering them a picnic at the beach afterwards, with biriani and beer as additional bribes, LALIT's members bring food and drink and share it at lunch time.
Lalit, as in past years, organized its May Day gathering in collaboration with the women's organization, Muvman Liberasyon Fam (speaker for them was Kisna Kistnasamy), and the Workers' Education group, Ledikasyon pu Travayer (speaker was Alain Ah-Vee), and the Federation of Preschool Playgroups (speaker was Vimala Lutchmee). The event was chaired by Lalit members, Rada Kistnasamy and Ally Hosenbokus, who situated the day in the context of the Lalit program and political mobilization for an alternative economy. (See web articles on our campaign). Rajni Lallah was Lalit's main speaker for the day, and she guided us through the mobilization campaign that Lalit is building up.
For the Labaz Intersindikal, Laval Yves, gave a talk on the difference between Intersindikal and most unions. The Government Teachers' Union representative, Rishi Bundoo, gave a very concise and thought-provoking talk. International messages were read by Cindy Clelie, Yannick Jean and Ram Seegobin. They were from the DSP in Australia, the AWL in the UK, and from the Wosa and the Anti-Privatization Forum in South Africa, as well as from the LCR in France and the organization MARON in Reunion.
Amongst the cultural pieces, a group of 8 young people from Plaisance did two Hip Hop performances, and also organized on-the-spot to sing the Bob Marley song, Stand up for your Rights, with a teacher who is also an acoustic guitarist who performed for the gathering. Lindsey Collen read the Kreol adaptation of the Brecht poem "A Worker Looks at History". Marlene Joseph of the Muvman Liberasyon Fam sang a beautiful romantic song in Kreol, and Rajni Lallah came up with an outstanding virtuoso vocal performance of her composition on Diego Garcia, accompanying herself on the synthesizer. Alain Ah-Vee did a highly skilled five-minute Tai Chi demonstration.
The event ended at around 2:30 p.m.