May Day 2024 saw widespread action for Palestine as workers and students took to the streets and their campuses to step up demands for an end to the genocide in Gaza

A rally outside King’s College Hospital (Guy’s Campus) on #MayDay4Palestine

May Day 2024 saw widespread action for Palestine as workers and students took to the streets and their campuses to step up demands for an end to the genocide in Gaza and the arming of Israel. Actions took place in schools, hospitals, offices, outside courts and through the centre of major cities, sending a  message that we are with those suffering in Gaza.

Perhaps most significantly several student encampments were established on university campuses across the country, inspired by the actions of students and lecturers in the US which have escalated the pro-Palestine movement to a new level on the other side of the Atlantic.

The campuses of Bristol, Newcastle, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds all saw the establishment of occupations dedicated to taking a stand for the Palestinians. Newcastle University’s ‘Apartheid Off Campus’ occupation said their numbers were ‘growing by the hour’ as they prepared for their first night.

Similarly growing numbers were reported at other camps with support from staff reflecting a change in mood at UK universities. Sheffield Jews Against Israeli Apartheid tweeted photos of banners at the camp on the concourse of Sheffield University reading ‘This Uni Is Complicit in Genocide’. In Manchester a march joined the encampment from St Peter’s Square in the centre of the city to demonstrate public support.

Stop the War sends its support and solidarity to all these occupations and calls on students around the country to escalate activity on campuses.

The day began with a large protest organised by Workers for a Free Palestine outside the Department for Business and Trade – the department responsible for licensing arms export contracts to Israel – on Whitehall. Hundreds of protestors could be seen chanting ‘end the occupation now’ and ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’.

Elsewhere, Jeremy Corbyn joined a small protest at his local university, London Metropolitan and King’s College held two big rallies at their Guy’s and Denmark Hill campuses. They called on King’s to ‘listen to our demands and #DivestNOW & for the government to #StopArmingIsrael’ with banners reading ‘Hands Off Rafah’. Other UCU protests took place at Brighton University, Striling University, Liverpool University, Liverpool John Moores University, Bradford College, City and Islington College and large congregations in both Oxford and Cambridge.

Homerton, Manchester Royal Infirmary, St George’s and Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s all held lunchtime walkouts. At Homerton staff held signs reading ‘NHS Workers Say Permanent Ceasefire Now’ with Unison flags held aloft. They also reminded their followers on X that ‘UNISON nationally calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, for an end to the arms trade with Israel, for the return of all hostages and for an end to the occupation and the blockade’.

The May Day march through central London saw RMT members carrying a banner that read ‘Solidarity with Palestine’ and the crowds in Trafalgar Square were addressed by the Palestinian Ambassador, Hussam Zumlot.

International Workers Day 2024 was a day of international solidarity focussed sharply on the genocide in Gaza. The movement must ensure this is another building block in widening the struggle for peace and justice in Palestine.

We call on all those involved to continue spreading the word for the next National Demonstration on Saturday 18 May, when we’ll be marking the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, and to join the Stop the War Trade Union Conference on 8th June. At the conference trade unionists from across the UK will be coming together to discuss the escalation of tensions across the globe and their experiences of building pro-Palestine initiatives in their unions and workplaces. Get your branch to support and send a delegation.

02 May 2024 by Stop the War

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