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May Day celebrated around the World as workers fight for higher wages, respect

From WN

From Jakarta to Copenhagen, thousands filled the streets in cities around the world to demand better wages, improved working conditions, minimum wage, and more to mark May Day on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.

The tradition of holding marches for workers’ rights started in the United States in the 1880s but has spread to nearly every country around the world as inequality has risen.

French police clashed with protesters in Paris as May Day marches met the ongoing yellow vest movement with thousands filling the street under tight security.

Officials said around 165 people were arrested after some protesters set fires and destroyed vehicles.

Police attempted to use tear gas to dispel the crow near Paris’ Montparnasse train station for the main protest, injuring some protesters.

The yellow vest protesters have been holding demonstrations against President Emmanuel macron’s policies for several months.

The hard left CGT union denounced police violence, according to Reuters.

“While the inter-union procession was to start at 14:30 (1230 GMT), unprecedented and indiscriminate repression took place following the acts of violence by some parties,” the union said in a statement, noting CGT secretary general had been tear gassed before noting the “current scenario, scandalous and unprecedented, is unacceptable in our democracy.”

While in Italy two protesters and a police officer were injured in Turin after police officers blocked a demonstration against the ongoing construction of a high-speed rail linking France and Italy, according to ANSA.

The Turin-Lyon High-Speed Train tunnel link has been opposed by the 5-Star Movement, a populist party that is in Italy’s ruling coalition.

One member, Torino city councilor Damiano Carretto, said on Facebook that he was hit in the head and on the hand by a police truncheon, according to ANSA.

Germany’s largest trade union, the DGB, called on voters to participate in this month’s upcoming European Parliament election to help the country reject the growing tide of nationalism and right-wing populism.

The 6 million-member union confederation said the political and economic turmoil in Britain following the Brexit vote “shows what happens if those who stoke fear but have no plan for the future gain the upper hand.”

Russian officials said nearly 100,000 people participated in a May Day rally held in Red Square which was organized by Kremlin-friendly trade unions.

Opposition activists said marches held in other cities had more than 100 arrests for those participating in unsanctioned political protests, including more than 60 supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny who were arrested in St. Petersburg.

In Turkey, police detained demonstrators who attempted to march toward Istanbul’s Taksim Square, which authorities said was off-limits to the protesters due to security concerns.

Taksim Square is an important symbol for the labor movement in Turkey since 34 people were killed during a May Day rally in 1977 when shots were fired into the demonstration from a nearby building.

Greece had its national rail, island ferry, and other transport services shut down by union rallies as hundreds gathered in Athens for three separate marches to Parliament.

Spanish workers filled the streets of the major cities to call on acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to maintain labor rights as he begins negotiating with other parties to form a new coalition government after winning the most recent election.

Unions are calling on Sanchez to repeal fiscal reforms and business-friendly labor laws that have been in place since conservatives took control of the EU country.

Meanwhile in Asia, thousands of low-income workers protested in Jakarta, Southeast Asia’ largest economy, by gathering at monuments to demand higher wages and improved working conditions.

Officials in Sri Lanka called off the traditional May Day rallies due to security concerns lingering after the Easter bombings, which killed more than 250 people and were claimed by the Islamic State.

Workers in Seoul rallied near City Hall in South Korea to denounce worsening working conditions and demanded equal treatment and pay for temporary workers.

A major South Korean trade union group also issued a joint statement with a North Korean workers’ organization to call on Seoul and Pyongyang to move forward with joint economic projects.

Garment workers and members of labor organizations held rallies in Bangladesh to demand better working conditions and higher wages.

Nazma Akter, president of one of Bangladesh’s largest unions, said female garment workers were also demanding six months of maternity leave and protection against sexual abuse and violence in the workplace, according to The AP., Maureen Foody

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