May Day in Europe and Asia


This video is about a police attack on May Day in the USA.

This AFP video, recorded in Turkey in 2008, says about itself:

Police repeatedly used pepper gas and water cannon Thursday to disperse thousands of workers who prepared to march to an iconic square in Istanbul in defiance of a ban on May Day gatherings there.

From Al Jazeera:

Protests mark May Day

Protesters across the world are taking to the streets to mark May Day, also known as Labour and International Workers Day.

In Greece, Saturday’s demonstrations have gained special significance this year with millions of people are facing increased taxes and pay cuts as the government struggles to overcome its huge debt problem.

Several anti-government rallies were planned by labour unions and strikes were disrupting transport services.

The port of Piraeus, which connects Athens with the Greek islands, was closed, with striking workers gathering to protest the government’s planned spending cuts.

“They’re trying to pass very reactionary measures,” one protester said.

“They’re trying to do away with all the rights we have gained through struggles in previous years.”

Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Phillips, reporting from the port, said the labour movement in Greece feels under “direct threat to its livelihood”.

The Greek government is set to announce sweeping spending cuts through 2012 to win support for an international rescue package worth $60bn in loans this year alone.

In Turkey, about 100,000 workers gathered at Istanbul’s Taksim Square.

This year is the first time labour unions have been fully allowed to mark May Day at Taksim Square since more than 30 people died there in the so-called Taksim Square Massacre.

On May 1, 1977, shooting triggered a stampede in which dozens were killed. The culprits were never found, contributing to instability which culminated in a military coup in 1980.

“Then human rights and especially workers rights were crushed for years in Turkey,” Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught, reporting from the square, said.

“Over a serious of years, particularly the last three, the unions have steadily pushed and pushed to be reallowed access to back to this square.

“They have said there is no good reason not to allow them back and this year, the government agreed.”

Police have deployed more than 22,000 officers for the rally and demonstrators were being searched before entering the square.

Thousands of Cambodian workers marked May Day by marching through the capital to demand better work conditions and the establishment of a labour court.

Thousands of workers in the Philippines also took to the streets to reiterate their call to the government to protect jobs and to safeguard the interests of workers.

In the South Korean capital, Seoul, about 20,000 people gathered to demand better working conditions for labourers and farmers.

See also here. And here.

From DPA news agency:

Taipei – About 10,000 workers in Taiwan protested Saturday against falling wages and benefits.

Organisers said they objected to a growing use of employment agencies that send temporary workers to fill positions, without providing benefits.

“We hold the protest to express our discontent over poverty and the dispatched labour system which seriously exploits many employees in Taiwan,” protest spokesman Huang Yu-te said.

He said the practice of hiring temporary labour is unfair to workers who are not given benefits by either employment agencies or the companies they are sent to work for.

“The average monthly salary is lower than 10 years ago,” said Hsieh Chuang-chih, secretary general of the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions.

Taiwan’s average monthly salary was 40,690 Taiwan dollars (1,312 US dollars) last year, down from 41,874 Taiwan dollars in 2000.

May Day reports and videos from various countries: here.

May Day in Amsterdam: here.

7 thoughts on “May Day in Europe and Asia

  1. (Reuters) – Angry protesters set fire to garbage cans and two TV outside broadcast vans in Athens as thousands of Greeks marched through the capital on May Day to protest against austerity measures they say only hurt the poor.

    World | Bonds | Global Markets

    At one rally, police fired two or three rounds of tear gas against 20 protesters trying to reach parliament. The protesters retreated and the march, which was otherwise largely peaceful, continued, a Reuters witness said.

    Shops were closed, ships stayed docked and the streets of the capital were unusually empty except for protesters marching toward parliament, meters away from the Finance Ministry where EU and IMF officials have been meeting for days to agree a new set of austerity measures.

    “No to the IMF’s junta!” protesters chanted, referring to the military dictatorship which ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974.

    “Hands off our rights! IMF and EU Commission out!,” the protesters shouted as they marched to parliament.

    A common call among many of those interviewed in the unusually empty streets of Athens was for punishment of those responsible for Greece’s biggest crisis in decades, in a country where corruption scandals and tax evasion are widespread.

    “We should throw all the crooks into the sea, all the people and politicians who are responsible for this crisis,” said 58-year old insurance worker Sotiris Oikonomou.

    With initial police estimates at around 17,000 protesters, participation in the march seemed to be around the same level as previous anti-austerity protests. Some were resigned to the fact that the government would move ahead with reforms anyhow.

    “I don’t expect anything to change with this march. We just fight for our dignity,” Oikonomou said.

    Greece, whose 240 billion euro economy plunged into recession last year, is preparing more than 20 billion euros ($26.64 billion) in budget cuts over the next two years to secure access to an EU/IMF aid package of up to 120 billion.

    “SOCIAL BATTLE?”

    The aid package is aimed at pulling Greece out of a severe debt crisis, which has hit the euro and shaken markets worldwide, and avoid contagion to other euro zone countries.

    Euro zone finance ministers are due to discuss the deal on Sunday. French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde said she expected agreement could be reached by the end of Sunday.

    Analysts say social protests may increase after the summer once the impact of the austerity measures kicks in, and investors are worried this may hamper reforms.

    Rating agencies have warned they could cut the country’s rating further if the government lost public support.

    The government has already agreed three sets of austerity measures including tax hikes and pension freeze over the last six months, and many fear the EU/IMF plan will hurt their livelihood further, in a country where one in five lives below the poverty threshold, according to EU data.

    “We will not permit the destruction of our rights, we will block their plans,” said public sector umbrella union ADEDY. “It’s time for our biggest social battle.”

    Union officials said Greece is asked to slash its deficit by 10 percent of GDP in 2010-2011 by raising VAT tax, scrapping public sector bonuses amounting to two extra months pay, and freezing civil servants’ wages in exchange of getting the aid.

    A poll by ALCO pollster for the newspaper Proto Thema showed that 51.3 percent of Greeks would take to the streets if these new measures were agreed.

    Polls show that although most Greeks disagree with the austerity plans, Prime Minister George Papandreou is still the country’s most popular politician and his party leads in polls.

    (Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Maria Golovnina)

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  2. JOINT STATEMENT

    On the occasion of International Workers’ Day

    1 May 2010

    Celebrate the victories and struggles in the streets and picketlines,

    organize and fight for socialism!

    We, Filipino refugees and migrant workers in the Netherlands, join the working people of the Netherlands and the rest of the world in militantly commemorating and celebrating International Workers’ Day on 1 May.

    In this period of crisis and despair brought about by the inherent crisis of the capitalist system, workers continue to struggle for their rights and welfare and for a long-term solution to the crisis. They continue to be in the forefront of the struggle and are raising higher the banner of class struggle against imperialism and for socialism .

    As migrants and refugees, we count ourselves among the exploited and oppressed peoples. We witness how monopoly capitalism exploits and oppresses the people in capitalist and imperialist-dominated countries. We are in fact a product of the crisis brought about by the plunder, exploitation and wars of the imperialist powers on neocolonies such as the Philippines. Much like our working brothers and sisters, we have been displaced not only from our country of birth but also deprived of our rights as working peoples, as citizens and as individuals.

    Despite the attacks on the working class by the big bourgeoisie to mitigate their financial and economic crisis, the working people continue to stand united in fighting for their rights. Neither the crisis nor the systematic attacks could break the spirit and militancy of the working class. They continue to launch strikes and political manifestations despite the threats of termination, expulsion, deportation (for migrant workers), imprisonment and even death in the hands of the repressive apparatuses of the state.

    The disaster of the financial and economic crisis has more than ever exposed the moribund character of capitalism, and people are once again looking into socialism as an alternative. In Europe, it is noticeable how the vicious imperialist propaganda about the so-called fall of socialism in the 1990s, has now been de-fanged, and drowned out in many mass mobilizations of the people shouting “death to imperialism”, “bail out the people, not the multinational banks”, and “long live socialism!”.

    As the crisis and conditions worsen for the working class, so will repression and fascism intensify. But this will only push the workers to further organize and mobilize their ranks — to fight for their sectoral and class interests, to be in solidarity with other workers and working peoples around the world, especially in oppressed countries, and to banner the socialist agenda and alternative as the solution to the massive unemployment, homelessness, poverty, hunger, displacement, despair and wars brought about by the capitalist crisis.

    Thus, on this day, we salute the workers and all working peoples. Long live the working class! Long live international solidarity! Long live socialism!

    Filipino Refugees in the Netherlands

    Migrante Netherlands

    Migrante Europe

    Rice and Rights Network

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  3. (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of people joined May Day rallies across Europe on Saturday, many protesting against government austerity policies in the wake of the global financial crisis.

    In Greece, where the debt-stricken government has pledged budget cuts to secure a European Union and IMF rescue, protesters burned garbage cans and set a TV van on fire.

    Shops were closed and ships docked while the streets of the capital were unusually empty but for various protest marches heading toward parliament, meters away from the Finance Ministry where EU and IMF officials have been meeting for days to agree a new set of austerity measures.

    “No to the IMF’s junta!” protesters chanted, referring to the military dictatorship which ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974.

    The aid package is aimed at pulling Greece out of a severe debt crisis, which has hit the euro and shaken markets worldwide, and avoid contagion to other euro zone countries.

    “Hands off our rights! IMF and EU Commission out!,” the protesters shouted as they marched to parliament.

    In France, an estimated 300,000 people had taken to the streets in various cities by midday as part of the traditional May Day demonstrations held by trade unions in many countries.

    At the forefront of protesters’ minds were President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plans to reform the country’s costly pension system, as well as general fears over job security due to the financial crisis.

    Marchers in Paris shouted “You had to experience the crisis in 2009, are you now going to have to pay for it in 2010?”

    Moscow saw a traditional May Day gathering by the Communist Party, Russia’s second biggest — as well as a rare, officially-sanctioned opposition demonstration. …

    In Sofia, more than 5,000 Bulgarians protested against high unemployment and what they called an inadequate response to the economic crisis of the center-right government.

    Supporters of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) waved red and national flags and chanted “Resignation.”

    “Every day this government causes damages to Bulgaria and it must go,” said BSP’s leader and former premier Sergei Stanishev.

    Bulgaria’s government, led by former Sofia mayor Boiko Borisov, came to power only last July after winning general elections. But the country has been hard hit by the global economic crisis as foreign investors fled and firms cut back.

    Not all of the May Day rallies were marked by anger.

    In Turkey, more than 100,000 workers thronged a central Istanbul square on Saturday for May Day celebrations, held there for the first time since the late 1970s, when unknown gunmen massacred dozens of people.

    Unions and political parties poured into Taksim Square, singing and chanting slogans such as “long live May Day.”

    (Additional reporting by Elisabeth Pineau and Sudip Kar-Gupta in France, Daren Butler in Turkey and Angel Krasimirov in Bulgaria; writing by Lin Noueihed; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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  4. Here’s some video I shot of the police attacking the Mayday demo in
    Rotterdam. I realize that police attack demos somewhere in the world every
    day, but this was rather significant because this demo has been held
    traditionally (for 30 years I understand) on mayday starting at the city
    hall in Rotterdam, but this time the police announced that we wouldn’t be
    allowed to march (supposedly because the sticks our flags were on could be
    “weapons”) and then told us we had to clear out of the area completely.
    After moving in and causing people to retreat and forcing us into smaller
    groups, they attacked the group still in front of the building with clubs,
    horses, and a dog, arresting 14. I only realized how close I got to being
    trampled by a horse after watching my own video!

    http://www.xs4all.nl/~meisner/1meiRotterdam2010/CLIP0165.AVI
    http://www.xs4all.nl/~meisner/1meiRotterdam2010/CLIP0175.AVI

    Why the police attacked this time (again, for a traditional demo with a
    permit) isn’t clear, but might reflect a strategic shift against protest in
    context of the economic crisis. Or it might just be that they thought they
    could get away with it, partly since the demo was a lot smaller (about 500)
    than the usual 1-2000 (due to poorer organizing this year, I think). But
    this is held every year more or less without incident, so no one expected
    it. And I understand that the police also arrested people at the Mayday
    demo in Nijmegen, so this might signal a crackdown on the left and
    protesting in NL.

    – Jeff

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  5. Pingback: British May Day reports | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Poet Benjamin Zephaniah interviewed | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: Cyprus pro-workers fighter dies | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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