May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day, is being celebrated around the world, with several cities participating in mass demonstrations and protests.
Many European and Asian stock markets are closed to mark this occasion.
May Day is a public holiday in more than 80 countries. The day commemorates the struggle that Chicago workers, unionists and reformers went through in 1886 to fight for an eight-hour work day. Violent protests broke out on May 1, 1886 as 35,000 workers rallied on the streets in Chicago to demand better working hours.
While May Day has already finished in Australia, some cities are planning marches over the weekend.
Adelaide: Saturday May 3, 10.30am Torrens Parade GroundSydney: Sunday May 4, 11.30am Macquarie Street outside ParliamentFremantle: Sunday May 4, 12pm Fremantle EsplanadeBrisbane: Sunday May 4, 9.30am Cnr Wharf and Turbot Sts, BrisbaneNewcastle: Sunday May 3,10.00am Hamilton Station
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Thousands gathered in Malaysia’s capital on Thursday to protest against a planned new tax, but they also took shots at the government’s prosecution of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and handling of missing flight MH370.
Washington DC, United States
May Day marches are planned across the USA, including one in Washington D.C. that will see a rally from Union Station to the Capitol building and the White House.
Turkish police used water canon and tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters who tried to defy a Labour Day ban on demonstrations on Istanbul’s Taksim Square, the scene of protests that have dogged the government for months.
After giving a final warning, hundreds of riot police backed up by water cannon trucks moved in on protesters in the Besiktas district as they tried to breach the barricades leading up to the symbolic square, according to an AFP reporter.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
In Cambodia, security forces armed with sticks and batons forcibly dispersed dozens of May Day protesters near Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park, according to an AFP photographer.
Several people were beaten.
The park, opened by the government in 2010 as a designated area for people to air their grievances, was closed off by police with barbed wire as the authorities seek to clamp down on protests against long-ruling strongman premier Hun Sen.
“We are sad that we could not mark May Day properly. Workers’ rights have been thwarted,” said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union.
Indonesian police said some 33,000 workers were set to rally across the capital Jakarta. Unions said up to two million workers would be out in force to demand better working conditions in Southeast Asia’s most populous nation, although in previous years the numbers have come in much lower than such forecasts.
“Demonstrations will be held nationwide but the biggest will be in Jakarta, with around 33,000 workers,” police spokesman told AFP, adding that 18,000 police officers would be out on the streets.
He said workers were planning further rallies on Friday, with some 10,000 protesters expected to turn out.
Among the workers readying to march for Indonesia’s first May Day national holiday are women who used to earn less than $1 an hour making adidas shoes, until they were sacked.
About 100,000 people have marched through Red Square to celebrate May Day, the first time the annual parade has been held on the vast cobblestoned square outside the Kremlin since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
In keeping with Soviet-era traditions, Thursday’s parade was organised by trade unions and honored the working man. But it also celebrated Russia’s annexation of Crimea and was seen as part of President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to stoke patriotic feelings.
Hong Kong, China
In Hong Kong, union organisers said some 5,000 people were set to join their march from the city’s Victoria Park to government headquarters, with better working hours top of the agenda.
Seoul, South Korea
In Seoul around 5,000 workers were expected to rally outside Seoul railway station in the afternoon but this year’s traditional May Day trade union gathering has been overshadowed by the ferry disaster that has claimed the lives of hundreds of people, many of them schoolchildren.
The workers were to march to City Hall and pay their respects to the victims of the April 16 disaster at a temporary memorial.