Canadian Manufacturing

May Day protests erupt across the globe as workers demand rights amid economic strain

by Mehmet Guzel and Hyung-jin Kim   

Human Resources Manufacturing News Regulation Public Sector Business economic strain Economy international protests May Day political demands Workers Rights

May Day, which falls on May 1, is observed to celebrate workers' rights and to air economic grievances or political demands.

People around the world took to the streets on May 1 to mark May Day with protests over the pressure of rising prices and calls for greater labour rights. Pro-Palestinian sentiments were also on display.

Police in Istanbul used tear gas and fired rubber bullets to disperse thousands of people who tried to break through a barricade and reach the main Taksim square in defiance of a ban on celebrating Labor Day there. Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said on social platform X at least 210 people were detained.

May Day, which falls on May 1, is observed to celebrate workers’ rights. It’s also an opportunity to air economic grievances or political demands. “Tax the rich,” one banner in Germany read. “Don’t touch the eight-hour workday!” another read in Sri Lanka.

In Athens, several thousand protesters joined marches as labour strikes disrupted public transport and national rail services across Greece.


Pro-Palestinian protesters joined the rallies, waving a giant Palestinian flag as they marched past the Greek parliament. Others displayed banners in support of pro-Palestinian protesting students in the United States.

In Paris, thousands of protesters marched through the French capital, seeking better pay and working conditions. Pro-Palestinian groups and anti-Olympics activists joined the rally, chanting slogans in support for people in Gaza.

A group of protesters set a makeshift Olympic rings on fire to show discontent with the Summer Games that start in less than three months. France’s unions have warned of a strike during the Games if the government does not adequately compensate people forced to work during summer holidays.

In South Africa, pro-Palestinian demonstrators joined May Day events. In Kenya, President William Ruto called for an increase in the country’s minimum wage. In Iraq, protesters demanded better wages, the reopening of closed factories and the end to privatization of certain businesses.

In Lebanon, pro-Palestinian marchers mingled with workers demanding an end to a miserable economic crisis. “Politicians do not feel the pain of the worker or the economic conditions,” said one demonstrator, Abed Tabbaa.

In Indonesia, workers demanded protections for migrant workers abroad and a minimum wage raise. They gathered amid a tight police presence, chanting slogans against the new Job Creation Law and loosened outsourcing rules during a march to Jakarta’s main sports stadium.

In South Korea’s capital, thousands of protesters shouted pro-labor slogans at a rally that organizers said was meant to step up criticism of what they call anti-labor policies pursued by President Yoon Suk Yeol’s conservative government.

Union members criticized Yoon’s December veto of a bill aimed at limiting companies’ rights to seek compensation for damages caused by union strikes. The government also has vowed to sternly deal with illegal strikes.

In Japan, more than 10,000 people gathered in Tokyo, demanding salary increases to set off price increases. Masako Obata, leader of the left-leaning National Confederation of Trade Unions, said dwindling wages have widened income disparities.

In the Philippines, hundreds of workers and left-wing activists marched to demand wage increases and job security amid soaring food and oil prices. Riot police stopped them from getting close to the presidential palace.


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