News ID: 302677
Published: 0244 GMT May 01, 2021

Protesters march in many countries on May Day amid pandemic restrictions

Protesters march in many countries on May Day amid pandemic restrictions

People attend the traditional May Day demonstration amid the coronavirus pandemic in France’s capital, Paris, on May 1, 2021.

Workers and union leaders on Saturday took to the streets in many countries across the world to demand more labor protections and financial support in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that has impacted workplaces and economies.

In Spain, thousands of people joined May Day rallies in more than 70 cities in the first Labor Day demonstrations since the pandemic began, AFP reported.

Wearing masks and observing social distancing, demonstrators marched through the streets waving banners although in many places, numbers were capped to ensure anti-COVID measures were respected.

In France, thousands took to the streets with trade union banners and flags. The face masks worn by many were a reminder of how much life has changed since the last traditional May Day celebrations — in 2019, before the spreading coronavirus wrecked lives and livelihoods and eroded civil liberties, often including the right to demonstrate, according to AP.

The protesters demanded social and economic justice and voice their opposition to government plans to change unemployment benefits, according to Reuters.

In Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, thousands vented their anger at a new job creation law that critics fear will reduce severance pay, lessen restrictions for foreign workers, increase outsourcing and hurt workers in other ways as the nation seeks to attract more investment.

In Turkey and the Philippines, police cracked down on May Day protests, enforcing virus lockdowns.

Turkish police detained more than 200 people who were trying to hold the May Day rally in Istanbul in defiance of a ban related to the coronavirus pandemic, according to AFP.

The Istanbul governor's office on Saturday said 212 people were detained.

Police officers pushed a crowd back forcefully using their shields, while other officers dragged protesters away, a correspondent said.

Turkey has been under a full lockdown since April 29 with a third wave of the virus causing record numbers of daily deaths. Some 394 people died of COVID-19 in Turkey on Friday, official data showed.

Taksim has been a flashpoint on May Day with frequent clashes since 34 people were killed there on May 1, 1977 during an unstable period in modern Turkey's history.

At least 11 people were also detained in Ankara after trying to hold May Day demonstrations, local media reported.

In the Philippine capital of Manila, where a month-long coronavirus lockdown has been extended by two weeks amid a surge in infections, police prevented hundreds of workers from demonstrating at a public plaza, protest leader Renato Reyes said. But protesters did gather briefly at a busy Manila boulevard, demanding pandemic cash aid, wage subsidies and COVID-19 vaccines amid rising unemployment and hunger.







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