Millions demonstrate in worldwide May Day rallies
Unions, workers, political parties traditionally mark May 1 with large-scale marches, rallies
Millions of people across the globe have taken part in May 1 International Workers’ Day demonstrations.
Labor unions, workers’ groups and political parties traditionally mark May 1 with large-scale marches and rallies.
May Day is an official holiday in many countries, including Turkey.
In France, the country’s main unions saw a massive turnout for a “day of mobilization” against far-right presidential candidate Marine le Pen.
However, some unions held separate events, with some refusing to back Le Pen’s centrist rival, Emmanuel Macron.
The second round of France’s presidential election will take place on Sunday.
The center-left CFDT and Unsa unions held a popular march toward the Place de la Republique in Paris.
The country’s two main unions -- the CFDT and the CGT, which have not demonstrated together since 2012 -- still disagree on uniting behind one presidential candidate.
At the same time another May 1 demonstration staged by hundreds of people who reject both candidates, used slogans like: "Ni Le Pen, Ni Macron" [Neither Le Pen, nor Macron].
This year’s May Day is being held amid tight security with an extra 9,000 police officers deployed on the streets of the French capital alone.
On the other side of the world, in Jakarta, Indonesia, tens of thousands of workers converged on Monday in a massive May Day rally, halting public transportation and closing down major road arteries.
A march on the State Palace heated up as the workers tried to break through police barricades.
President of the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) Iqbal Said told Anadolu Agency his members were demanding that their pension payments be the same as those enjoyed by retired civil servants and members of the security forces.
He said others saw as much as 60 percent of the final salary upon retirement, while his workers received pensions far below that figure.
Said claimed half a million workers were expected to take to the streets in May Day rallies across Indonesia.
In Greece, thousands hit the streets of Athens on Monday, using traditional May 1 demonstrations to protest austerity measures and Greek government policies which have increased working hours and cut salaries.
While the center of the Greek capital was completely blocked by demonstrators, government officials were meeting the country's lenders to discuss bailout conditions and additional austerity measures.
May 1 demonstrations remained important since their origin in workers’ protests in Chicago in 1886, Christos Zarkinos, one of the marchers, told Anadolu Agency.
"We are still fighting for eight-hour shifts, we are still fighting for permanent positions," he added.
Further austerity measures will increase unemployment and create more poor people in Greece, rally organizers claimed.
Protests started in various Athenian neighborhoods before splitting in different directions.
Some groups marched to the city's Hilton Hotel, where the country's lenders were meeting the government.
Others walked to the American embassy, while other protested outside parliament.
Thousands of people also gathered to celebrate International Workers’ Day across Turkey, mainly in Istanbul and the capital Ankara.
Labor unions and political parties, including the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) took part in a major rally in Istanbul’s Bakirkoy district.
This year, labor unions again marked May Day in an open-air meeting area on the European side of Istanbul, rather than in Taksim Square -- a traditional rallying point.
Tight security was visible at all entrances and exits to the Bakirkoy venue.
Banners carried by protestors read, “Long live May 1” and “Long live May 1 for work, peace, freedom and justice”.
Public transport was also affected, with several roads to Bakirkoy closed to traffic. Taksim Square’s metro station was also shut.
Turkish police took tight security measures ahead of the May Day celebrations in various parts of Istanbul including Mecidiyekoy and Taksim Square.
Gatherings in Taksim Square have been banned by the authorities.
*Ainur Rohmah in Jakarta, Idily Tsakiri in Athens, Hajer M’tiri in Paris contributed to this report