May Day 2019: Workers demand higher wages, rights, respect
BERLIN — Higher salaries, better working conditions, maternity leave, minimum wage and an end to discrimination against temporary or foreign workers: These were among the concerns as hundreds of thousands of union members and labor activists rallied around the world to mark May Day.
The tradition of May Day marches for workers' rights began in the United States in the 1880s. It quickly spread to other countries at a time when industrialization pitted poorly paid employees who had few protections and little power against increasingly dominant factory employers and landowners.
Over the decades, the May Day protests have also become an opportunity to air general economic grievances or political demands. Here's a look at Wednesday's protests:
PROTESTERS MOURN PUERTO RICO'S PLIGHT
Thousands of Puerto Ricans marched to traditional music while protesting austerity measures, with many participants at a May Day event demanding the ouster of a federal control board overseeing the U.S. territory's finances.
Many in the crowd in San Juan waved Puerto Rican flags made in black and white rather than red, white and blue to symbolize mourning for the island's plight, especially since September 2017's Hurricane Maria.
A protester dressed as comic book superhero Superman was arrested after jumping over a street barrier and hugging a police officer.
PROTESTS OVER HIGH SPEED TRAIN IN ITALY
Two protesters and a police officer were injured in the Italian city of Turin when police blocked a demonstration against the construction of a high-speed rail line between France and Italy, according to ANSA, an Italian news agency.
Among the protesters were members of the 5-Star Movement, a populist party that is in Italy's ruling coalition but is opposed to the tunnel. One member, Torino city councilor Damiano Carretto, said on Facebook that he was hit in the head and on the hand by a police truncheon.
The 35.7-mile (57.5-kilometer) long Turin-Lyon High-Speed Train tunnel link, known in Italy as TAV, is a key part of an EU project linking southern Spain with eastern Europe. But the 5-Star Movement has long opposed the project.
RUSSIAN WORKERS MARCH AT RED SQUARE
Authorities in Russia said about 100,000 people took part in a May Day rally in central Moscow organized by Kremlin-friendly trade unions on Red Square. Opposition activists said more than 100 people were detained in several cities, including for participating in unsanctioned political protests.
In St. Petersburg, police arrested over 60 supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Some of them carried signs saying "Putin is not immortal," in reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been at the helm since 2000.
Police manhandled dozens of protesters in Russia's second-largest city, including lawmaker Maxim Reznik, who was later released. Reznik told the Dozhd TV station that police detained almost everyone in his protest group but gave no reason for the arrests.
AGITATORS DISRUPT MAY DAY IN FRANCE
French police clashed with stone-throwing protesters who set fires and smashed up vehicles as tens of thousands of people marched peacefully under tight security.
France's Interior Ministry deployed 7,400 police officers in Paris to counter troublemakers, who disrupted May Day events in the last several years. About 330 arrests were made Wednesday.
Riot police used tear gas to try to control masked troublemakers near Paris' Montparnasse train station, the start of the main May Day march, and again at the end near the Place d'Italie.