Tear gas at Turkish May Day protests

Turkish police have fired water cannons at protesters and some 100,000 workers have paraded in Moscow’s iconic Red Square as millions took to the streets around the world to mark International Labour Day.


Demonstrators were out in force on May 1 in parts of Europe, marching against unemployment and austerity policies while across Asia, workers turned out to demand better working conditions and salary hikes.

In Istanbul, hundreds of riot police fired tear gas and water cannons against protesters as they tried to breach barricades leading to Taksim square on the anniversary of clashes that spawned a nationwide protest movement.

Even larger crowds gathered for May Day in Russia – but this time in support of their government – as a huge column of demonstrators waving Russian flags and balloons marched through Red Square to voice their support for President Vladimir Putin and his hardline stance on the Ukraine crisis.

The 100,000-strong march was the first time that the cobblestoned Moscow landmark had witnessed a May Day parade since the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union.

The tone was markedly different in Greece, where thousands marched in the country’s two main cities of Athens and Salonika against austerity policies brought in during a disastrous debt crisis that led to mass lay-offs.

In Italy’s Turin, scuffles broke out between police and hundreds of protesters. Activists lobbed smoke bombs at police, who charged demonstrators in the northern industrial city, which has been badly hit by a painful two-year recession.

Thousands marched in France, with the biggest rallies in Paris and other major cities such as Bordeaux and Toulouse targeting the Socialist government’s budget cuts to rein in the deficit.

Rallies also took place across Africa, Asia, Latin America and parts of the Middle East.

For Venezuelans, the focus was on wealthier suburbs of the capital, Caracas, as protesters took the opportunity for another rally against President Nicolas Maduro. Around 3000 people called for an end to the chronic shortages that have beset the country.

In Indonesia, protesters carrying portraits of leftist idols such as Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and the country’s first president Sukarno, marched to the state palace in Jakarta.

Some sang and danced as others carried a three-metre-long toy octopus wearing a red hat with the words “Capitalist Octopus, Sucking the Blood of Workers”.

About 20,000 people rallied in Kuala Lumpur against price hikes implemented by Malaysia’s long-ruling government, which already is under domestic and international scrutiny over its handling of the search for a missing passenger jet that disappeared on March 8.

More than 10,000 workers marched to the labour ministry in Taiwan’s capital Taipei, demanding wage hikes and a ban on companies hiring cheap temporary or part-time workers.