Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 October 2019

Workers hold May Day rallies around the world

International Workers' Day is being marked with defiant rallies and, in some places, confrontations

Workers and activists marked May Day on Tuesday with traditional rallies to demand their governments address labour and employment issues.

International Workers' Day is a public holiday in many countries, though activities are restricted in some places, sometimes leading to confrontations.

Here's a look at some of the events and protests around the world:


Dozens of demonstrators were arrested by police for trying to march toward Istanbul's symbolic main square in defiance of a ban.

Turkey declared Taksim Square off-limits to May Day celebrations, citing security concerns. Roads leading to the square were blocked and police allowed only small groups of union representatives to lay wreaths at a monument there.

Still, a group of some 25 people, chanting "Taksim cannot be off limits on May 1", tried to push their way into the square but were rounded up by riot police.

Major trade unions were scheduled to mark the day with rallies at government-designated areas in Istanbul and Ankara.

Taksim holds a symbolic value for Turkey's worker's movement. In 1977, 34 people were killed there during a May Day event when shots were fired into the crowd from a nearby building.


About 5,000 people from various groups rallied near the presidential palace in Manila to protest the failure of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to fulfill a major campaign promise to end contractualisation — the widespread practice of short-term employment.

The protesters also demanded that the government address issues including low wages, unemployment and trade union repression.

Protesters burnt an effigy of Mr Duterte in the Philippine capital.

Read more: Philippine workers march in protest at short-term contracts

South Korea

Thousands of union members rallied in downtown Seoul to protest for a higher minimum wage and other demands.

They chanted slogans urging the government to implement a 10,000 won (US$9.34) minimum wage and convert all non-regular employees to regular workers with equal pay and treatment.

The rally was organised by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. The police estimated the crowd at 10,000 people.

The union members also demanded that the government scrap the restructuring of the shipbuilding and car industries, and reform the huge conglomerates that dominate the South Korean economy.


About 10,000 workers from various labour groups gathered near the presidential palace in Jakarta to voice their demands.

Most of the workers came from Jakarta and nearby suburbs but some travelled from West Java and Surabaya.

The protesters urged the government to avoid outsourcing, and to raise their wages. They also asked the government to stop foreign labourers from working in Indonesia, saying it decreased employment opportunities for local workers.


About 2,000 garment workers gathered at a park in Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, for a rally organised by a coalition of garment unions.

The workers wanted to march to the National Assembly to urge politicians to help them address labour-related concerns but the group was stopped by riot police.

Prime Minister Hun Sun spent May Day with about 5,000 garment workers just outside Phnom Penh. He thanked the workers and announced that each of them will receive 50,000 riel (Dh46).

United States

Immigrants in the US say they will use May Day to hold rallies against President Donald Trump's government. Marches and other demonstrations for labour and immigrant rights were planned from Florida to New York to California.

"The Trump administration has made very clear that they've declared war on the immigrant community on all levels," said Javier Valdez, co-executive director of the advocacy group Make the Road New York.

Updated: May 1, 2018 03:03 PM