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1st of May Labours or Workers Day in Oslo Norway

International Workers’ Day is the commemoration of the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago in 1886, when Chicago police fired on workers during a general strike for the eight hour day, killing a dozen demonstrators. In 1889, the first congress of the Second International, meeting in Paris for the centennial of the French Revolution and the Exposition Universelle, following a proposal by Raymond Lavigne, called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests. These were so successful that May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the International’s second congress in 1891.

In most places in Norway, like in Oslo, the host for the demonstration parade is LO (The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions); decidedly the largest and most influential workers’ organisation. It all starts with speeches at Youngstorget (The Labour Square) and today it was both Norway’s Minister of Finance (Kristin Halvorsen from Socialist Left Party) and Prime Minister (Jens Stoltenberg from The Labour Party). They are in The Government (called The Red – Green coalition) together with The Centre Party. Here is from the square (click all pics to bigify and enjoy):

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Today’s speech at Labours Square
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10 thousands of spectators at Youngstorget.

The theme for their speeches was International Solidarity, mentioning the violence (on both sides) and the need to stop the Israel’s occupation of Gaza as well as the Tamil situation in Sri Lanka where people are locked in between the front lines. Of course there where subjects from the internal Norwegian topics as well and here are some of the slogans in the parade demonstration:
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Left: Stop Social Dumping. Right: Workers around the world Unite.
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Left: Let the children be Children. Right: Don’t fuck with our pensions.

To give you even more details and a taste of the atmosphere from the demonstration, here is a video:

Here is also a closer look:
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and some of you might recognise one of them?

A lot could be said about the Day in itself, the labour union, the government, speeches and the demonstration, but after all this is just a blog post. Let me give you a short summery of how it’s going in Norway:
Having the world’s second highest GDP per capita is a good starting point. However, like all industrialised countries, Norway is facing new challenges due to the process of globalisation and of course the financial crises. A country where wage costs are high, it is easier for Norway to compete in business areas where these can be tolerated as opposed to areas where labour-intensive production is required. Norway has a highly competent workforce but efforts within innovation, research and development are comparatively relatively low. In addition, Norway’s substantial income from its petroleum-based economy means that necessary reforms in the public and private sectors to increase efficiency and productivity are less visible and easily postponed.

Since this blog is about Norway, our culture, traditions and history – and not that much about politics, let me end with something that might describe the Norwegian soul:
It was a very peaceful and including demonstration (I think I saw just four policemen the whole day) and we are a small, open-minded, open and transparent society: To shoot some pics, I placed myself in the start of the parade and there was the Prime Minister of course (remember the governing of Norway is based on a parliamentary system so he is the states first man). I did not see any guards other than his fellows from LO and he was interviewed by the TV stations in the middle of the crowd:
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I even shook his hand and congratulated him on the day and a good speech. I also told him I am bus buddy (back and forth to work) with his State secretary; Karl Eirik Schjøtt-Pedersen.

So how was your 1st of May – any parades or celebrations? Did you have a chat with some of the labour or political leaders? If not; Any issues you would like me to mention next time I meet our Prime Minister? :lol:

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  1. Wow, this is great to bad we don’t do this in the US. I am quite impressed with the turn out looks like allot of demonstrators. I could not find you in the crowd and I did look really hard.

    I have something for you on my site so come and see …….

    Love and Blessings,

    It wasn’t me – I’m almost all the time behind the camera – it was my wife Diane :-)
    Thanks for the award!

  2. I can’t believe you only had about four policeman on duty (or that you saw, anyway). Over here, passions can run high and the police are needed to often break up rowdy demonstrations that would otherwise get out of hand.

    And the fact that your Prime Minister walks around without security surrounding him. Amazing. There are crazies over here who would try and shoot our PM, not because there’s anything wrong with him, but because there’s something skewed with their thinking.

    We’re finding society is becoming more violent here and there are too many out there who want to relieve you of your hard earned goods or even your life, just because they think they can.

    Good post, Renny. If it wasn’t so cold there in the winter, I’d emigrate to your peaceful country.

  3. Very interesting post Renny – another post I can use to ‘educate’ hubby about Norway. I stopped participating in demonstrations a long time ago. In Norway I always trust that they will be peaceful and not ‘go wrong’ but somehow I don’t feel the same when I am outside of Norway.

    I don’t think they do much in England. From what I can see it’s just another ‘bank holiday’ with everybody heading down south to enjoy the beach and sun. I’ve never actually paid attention whilst living here. Will have to check now……..

  4. It always surprises me that May Day is a big deal in some parts of the world. Here in Tulsa, Oklahoma it is something of a small yawn. Interesting that Chicago is famous for a massacre. My wife, who lived in Chicago for some time, tells me it is not a big deal there either. All I ever remember from grade school is something about baskets of flowers and pole dancing.

  5. DO you remember I attended a Tax Day Tea Party to demonstrate against higher taxes? Here in New Hampshire, we were very nice and friendly. No problems with the crowd. Everyone was very civil. But the government was worried and they hired more than a dozen state policemen to “rule the crowd”. Haha! We maybe had 500 people and we are all friendly farmers or workers and didn’t need them at all.

    I’m in for a while. The puppies are doing well, and so is their Mommy, Anneliese!

  6. I thought in the western states of Europe they don’t celebrate the 1th of May…maybe I’m wrong!

    Great post Renny! And thanks for your comment on my blog, very much appreciated!

  7. wow this is great and looks like there was a huge crowd and everything in control. Even in India May day is a big day…..but i guess nothing like that in U.S. I don’t know how it is in other countries!!!

  8. It’s illegal to hold demonstrations in Singapore. :P

    May day is a big deal in Singapore. there are lots of events and activities. I’m not involved this year as I have to look after ailing family members.

  9. wow this is informative. thanks for sharing Mr. Renny! Also thanks for reminding I forgot about labor day.

    Happy new week to you!

  10. I suppose there were some body-guards hidden around, but yes, Norway is still a fairly peaceful country. The only lethal attack that I can remember off-hand after WW2 was in Lillehammer in 1993 when the Israeli Mossad killed an Innocent Moroccan waiter by mistake.

    PS Thank you for the comment – the day is rather spoecial.

  11. It is amazing the HUGE numbers of peoplle that come to these big celebrations, and they are very colorful…Nice to see that “warmth” has retuined to Norway now that Spring is here…
    I am unable to see the Video…Is there an actual “link” to YouTube? I can see them there, but not on anyone’s blog…..Grrrrrrrr…And I have no idea why!

  12. wow, it amazes me that your PM can wade out into the midst of a crowd like that and security isn’t going crazy to keep people away from him.

  13. You’re first May was very nice in Oslo! It wasn’t the same atmosphere in Paris and in the big towns. For the first time the eight syndicates were in front of the cortage all together and behind the different political parties of the left. There were between 465.000 and more than 1,2 million of people. With the crise of course it was more than a classical french first May. and the syndicates have a big job to canalize the revendications.

  14. A great reportage.
    As you know, I’m not very found of our present Government due to the fact they regulate too much of our private lives. i.e. people have become a tool for the state, not what I mean is the right thing: The State should be a service organisation for the people.
    We have seen it from History: The Fall of Communisme and the next “bomb”: Greece.
    We must all stribe for finding our green branch and not beeing thought the state fix everything. It’s your best effort that matters. But we that can make our selfs a good life must share with those who are dissabled to do so.
    We must together create values that matters – for the all of us, not only for the People in Power and not a member of the “correct political party”.

  15. Thanks Renny for the link on your blog!!! Your contribution for the 1 st may is so great!!! You have the chance to live in a beautiful and rich country where your politics can walk in the streets without problems!!! Imagine Sarkosi alone in the streets!!
    I can’t wait now our gathering! As soon as I can I visit again the blog about the OBG and will visit the participants!!!

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