Labor Day 2024: Workers and activists demand more workers' rights

ISTANBUL (AP) — Workers, activists and others across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia took to the streets Wednesday to celebrate Labor Day with protests over global pressure for rising prices and calls for more workers' rights. forefront- Palestinian Emotions were on display too.

Police in Istanbul used tear gas and fired rubber bullets to disperse thousands of people who tried to break through a barrier and reach the main Taksim Square in defiance of a government ban on celebrating Labor Day there. At least 30 people, most of them left-wing party members, were arrested earlier for trying to break through another blockade.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government long ago declared Taksim a no-go area for gatherings and demonstrations for security reasons, but the square holds symbolic value for trade unions. In 1977, unidentified gunmen opened fire on a Labor Day celebration in Taksim, causing a stampede and killing 34 people.

On Wednesday, a small group of trade union representatives was allowed into the square to lay a wreath at a memorial to the victims.

Labor Day, which falls on May 1, is celebrated in many countries to celebrate workers' rights. It is also an opportunity to express economic grievances or political demands. One sign in Germany read: “Tax the rich.”

In Athens, several thousand demonstrators joined May Day marches, as related labor strikes disrupted public transport and national railway services across Greece. The country's largest union is demanding a return to collective bargaining after the abolition of workers' rights during the 2010-2018 financial crisis in Greece.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators joined the marches, waving a giant Palestinian flag as they marched in front of the Greek Parliament. Others held pro-Palestinian banners Student protests in the United States.

Union members scuffle with Turkish police officers as they march during Labor Day celebrations in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

A union member scuffles with plainclothes police as he walks with others during Labor Day celebrations in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

A union member scuffles with plainclothes police as he walks with others during Labor Day celebrations in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Riot police officers stand guard and block the road to protesters as union members march during Labor Day celebrations in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. Police in Istanbul detained dozens of people who tried to reach the city's main square, Taksim, in defiance of a government ban on... Celebrate Labor Day on May 1st at the historic site.  (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Riot police officers stand guard and block the road to protesters as union members march during Labor Day celebrations in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

“We want to express our solidarity with students in the United States, who face significant repression of their rights and just demands,” Nikos Mavrokevalos said at the rally. He added: “We want to send a message that workers say no to exploitation, no to poverty, and no to high prices.”

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In Paris, demonstrators gathered in Place de la République to participate in a march led by France's main unions, demanding better wages and working conditions. Pro-Palestinian groups and anti-Olympics activists are expected to join the march through the French capital, which will host the Olympics. Summer games In less than three months.

The unions have filed notice of indefinite strike, saying all sectors, including hospitals, will go on strike during the Games if the French government does not adequately compensate people who have to work during the summer holidays.

In Cape Town, South Africa, pro-Palestinian demonstrators joined Labor Day events. In the Kenyan capital, President William Ruto called for an increase in the country's minimum wage. In Iraq, demonstrators demanded better wages, the reopening of closed factories and an end to the privatization of some companies.

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

Workers march during a May Day parade in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. Thousands of workers urged the government to raise the minimum wage and improve working conditions.  (AP Photo/Ahmed Ibrahim)

Workers march during a May Day parade in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. Thousands of workers urged the government to raise the minimum wage and improve working conditions. (AP Photo/Ahmed Ibrahim)

In Indonesia, workers demanded protection for migrant workers abroad and an increase in the minimum wage. The demonstrators gathered amid a heavy police presence, chanting slogans against the new job creation law and the easing of outsourcing rules, during a march to Jakarta's main sports stadium.

In the South Korean capital, thousands of demonstrators chanted pro-labor slogans in a march that organizers said was aimed at intensifying criticism of what they described as the anti-labor policies pursued by the conservative government of President Yeon Suk-yul.

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“In the past two years under the government of Yoon Suk-yul, the lives of our workers have sunk into despair,” Yang Kyung-soo, leader of the Korean Federation of Trade Unions, said in a speech. We remove them from power ourselves.

Members of the Korean Federation of Trade Unions gather for a Labor Day rally in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. Workers, activists and others in Asian capitals took to the streets Wednesday to mark Labor Day with protests against rising prices, government labor policies and calls for more workers' rights.  (AP Photo/Ahn Young Joon)

Members of the Korean Federation of Trade Unions gather for a rally on Labor Day in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Members of the Korean Federation of Trade Unions gather for a rally on Labor Day in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Members of the Korean Federation of Trade Unions gather for a rally on Labor Day in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Union members criticized Yoon's veto in December of a bill aimed at limiting companies' rights to seek compensation for damages caused by union strikes. The government pledged to deal strictly with illegal strikes and trade unions demanded more transparent accounting records.

In Japan, more than 10,000 people gathered in downtown Tokyo, demanding a salary increase, saying it could lead to prices rising enough. Masako Obata, leader of the left-leaning National Confederation of Trade Unions, said lower wages had widened income disparities.

In the Philippine capital, hundreds of workers and left-wing activists organized a march to demand higher wages and job security amid rising food and oil prices. Riot police prevented them from approaching the presidential palace.

Drivers joined the protest and called on the government to end the modernization program they fear it will lead to And remove their dilapidated jeepsIt is the main means of public transportation on the streets of Manila.

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Kim reported from Seoul. Associated Press journalists Derek Gatopoulos in Athens, Ninick Karmini in Jakarta, Susan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, and VJ Basilio Sebe in Manila contributed to this report.

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