Tue, May 02, 2017 - Page 1 News List

May Day marked with defiant rallies


Indonesian demonstrators yesterday participate in a May Day protest in Surabaya, the nation’s second-largest city.

Photo: AFP

Workers and activists yesterday marked May Day around the world with defiant rallies and marches for better pay and working conditions.

Police detained 70 people in Istanbul, Turkey, as they tried to march to march to Taksim Square in defiance of a ban on holding May Day events there, garment workers in Cambodia defied a government ban to demand higher wages, and workers in Spain deplored the country’s 19 percent jobless rate.

Taksim Square was declared off limits to demonstrations for a third year running and police blocked points of entry, allowing only small groups of union representatives to lay wreaths at a monument there.

The square holds a symbolic value for Turkey’s labor movement. In 1977, shots were fired into a May Day crowd from a nearby building, killing 34 people.

Spain’s two major unions called for marches in more than 70 cities under the slogan “No More Excuses.”

Union General de Trabajadores (UGT) and CCOO unions demanded that the Spanish government roll back its labor reforms that made it cheaper to fire workers and increase wages and pensions.

“Spain has been growing for two years and now it is time for the economy to align itself with the needs of the people,” CCOO general-secretary Ignacio Fernandez Toxo said.

In Poland, labor union and left-wing activists appealed for unity in order to oppose the government as they marked May Day with a parade in Warsaw.

The rally and a march was by the All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions and by the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), which lost all parliament seats in the 2015 election that brought the conservative populist Law and Justice party to power.

In Cambodia, riot police watched carefully as more than 1,000 garment workers defied a government ban on marching to deliver a petition to the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, demanding a higher minimum wage and more freedom of assembly.

The marchers, holding a forest of banners, filled a street a short distance from the parliament complex and advanced noisily until they were stopped by a barricade and lines of police, holding batons, shields and guns capable of firing gas canisters.

A standoff of several hours was resolved when a representative from the Assembly came out and accepted the petition.

In the Philippines, a few thousand left-wing activists and laborers marched and held noisy rallies to press for higher wages and an end to temporary contractual jobs that deprive workers of many benefits.

In sweltering summer heat, the crowds in Manila also protested alleged extrajudicial killings under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug crackdown.

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