May Day spurs protests around the world

Above: Protesters marching with an effigy of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte during a May Day rally in Manila yesterday. PHOTO: REUTERS
Protesters marching with an effigy of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte during a May Day rally in Manila yesterday. PHOTO: REUTERS
Left: A yellow vest protester holding a French flag during clashes with police prior to the start of the annual May Day rally in Paris.
A yellow vest protester holding a French flag during clashes with police prior to the start of the annual May Day rally in Paris.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Workers in Asia march over labour rights and planned rallies are held across Europe

MANILA/PARIS • Tens of thousands of people around the world took to the streets yesterday in protests to mark Labour Day.

Workers across Asia marched over labour rights while police fired tear gas on demonstrators in Paris, as planned rallies carried on across Europe.

In Manila, thousands of Philippine protesters marched in rallies, torching a giant effigy of President Rodrigo Duterte as they attacked his economic policies' impact on the nation's poor.

Rows of marchers flew red banners and chanted near the presidential palace in the capital city, where they set fire to the horned effigy adorned with Chinese and United States flags - the two competing powers in the Philippines. Police said about 8,200 marchers attended "generally peaceful and orderly" rallies nationwide, with the majority in the capital.

In Taipei, thousands of workers from across Taiwan marched for hours through the capital despite heavy rain, demanding more paid leave and greater labour security.

According to organisers, Taiwanese people work 2,035 hours a year, which is about 36 working days more than the OECD average of 1,744 hours.

In Phnom Penh, hundreds of Cambodian workers marched about 1km around a city block in the capital, with the authorities allowing the short procession after they had banned May Day marches for years.

Organisers said more than 1,000 people attended.

  • 8,200

    Number of marchers who attended "generally peaceful and orderly" rallies nationwide in the Philippines, with the majority in the capital.

In Colombo, Sri Lanka's main political parties marked May Day with outdoor rallies, respecting an appeal over security concerns after the Easter Sunday bombings left 253 dead.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe attended an outdoor commemorative event for a former president killed in a suicide bomb attack on May Day in 1993.

In Paris, French police fired tear gas to push back masked demonstrators in the city's central area as thousands of people used an annual May Day rally to protest against President Emmanuel Macron's policies.

Labour unions and so-called "yellow vest" protesters were on the streets across France, days after Mr Macron outlined a response to months of street protests that included tax cuts worth around 5 billion euros (S$7.6 billion).

Some 7,400 police were deployed in Paris and made 200 arrests.

Thousands of people also demonstrated in cities from Marseille to Toulouse and Bordeaux. Some 300 yellow-vest protesters tried to storm a police station in the Alpine town of Besancon.

In Germany, tens of thousands of people took part in traditional May Day marches across the country.

As of midday in Berlin, about 8,000 people were marching towards the Brandenburg Gate, according to a spokesman for the German Trade Union Confederation. The confederation had called for marches across Germany in favour of a Europe-wide minimum wage.

In Spain, unions used traditional May Day marches across the country to call on the Socialist Party, which is likely to head the government after Sunday's election, for pension rises and a roll-back of tough labour legislation.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who won 123 seats in the 350-seat Parliament, must fix labour market reforms imposed by a conservative government from 2012, union leaders said.

In Russia, some 2,000 anti-Kremlin protesters joined May Day rallies in Saint Petersburg, chanting slogans critical of President Vladimir Putin, as police arrested more than 30 people.

Anti-Kremlin marchers held up portraits of the Russian strongman, chanting "Putin is a thief!" and "This is our city!" amid tightened police presence.

In Greece, unions conducted a strike that paralysed parts of the country's transport system to mark International Workers' Day. The protest led to all ferries to and from the Aegean islands remaining in their docks. The ferry services are set to resume this morning.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, DPA, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2019, with the headline 'May Day spurs protests around the world'. Print Edition | Subscribe