May Day protesters demand more job protections amid pandemic

Communists party supporters gather with red flags to mark Labour Day, also knows as May Day near Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Communists party supporters gather with red flags to mark Labour Day, also knows as May Day near Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Credit: Alexander Zemlianichenko

Credit: Alexander Zemlianichenko

Workers and  union leaders have dusted off bullhorns and flags that had stayed furled during coronavirus lockdowns for boisterous May Day marches

PARIS (AP) — Workers and union leaders dusted off bullhorns and flags that had stayed furled during coronavirus lockdowns for slimmed down but still boisterous — and at times violent — May Day marches on Saturday, demanding more labor protections amid a pandemic that has turned economies and workplaces upside down.

In countries that mark May 1 as International Labor Day, the annual celebration of workers' rights produced a rare sight during the pandemic: large and closely packed crowds, with marchers striding shoulder-to-shoulder with clenched fists behind banners.

In Turkey and the Philippines, police prevented the May Day protests, enforcing virus lockdowns and making hundreds of arrests. In France, some marchers battled with riot police.

For labor leaders, the day was a test of their ability to mobilize workers in the face of the profound economic disruptions.

In France, thousands took to the streets with union banners and flags, hemmed in by and sometimes scuffling with riot police. The face masks worn by many marchers 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.

Riot police clashed with some demonstrators in Paris and the southern city of Lyon, while burning roadblocks threw clouds of smoke into the Paris air. Police charged crowds to catch suspected troublemakers and fired small amounts of tear gas. Police in Paris said they made 34 arrests. Authorities also reported five arrests and 27 police officers injured in Lyon. But most of the dozens of marches across France passed off without incident.

Some demonstrations, constricted by coronavirus restrictions, were markedly less well-attended than those before the pandemic. Russia saw just a fraction of its usual May Day activities amid a coronavirus ban on gatherings. The Russian Communist Party drew only a few hundred people to lay wreaths in Moscow. For a second straight year in Italy, May Day passed without the usual large marches and rock concerts.

But in France, Germany other places where rallies were allowed, workers vented their concerns over jobs and protections. In Bosnia, coal miner Turni Kadric said he and his colleagues are “barely surviving."

In Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, thousands voiced anger at a new jobs law that critics fear will reduce severance pay, lessen restrictions for foreign workers and increase outsourcing as the nation seeks to attract more investment. Protesters in the capital of Jakarta laid mock graves on the street to symbolize hopelessness and marches were being held in some 200 cities.

In the Philippine capital of Manila, where a monthlong 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.

“Workers were largely left to fend for themselves while being locked down,” labor leader Josua Mata said.

In Turkey, a few labor leaders were allowed to lay wreaths in Istanbul's Taksim Square but riot police stopped many others from reaching the plaza. The Istanbul governor’s office said 212 people were taken into custody for breaching coronavirus restrictions. Turks are barred from leaving home, except to collect essential food and medicine, under a lockdown until May 17 that aims to halt a surge in infections.

In Germany, where previous May Day demonstrations have often turned violent, police deployed thousands of officers and warned that rallies would be halted if marchers failed to follow coronavirus restrictions. Protests in Berlin called for lower rents, higher wages and voiced other concerns. Also marching were far-right coronavirus deniers and opponents of anti-virus measures.

Later Saturday, one of the bigger leftist rallies in Berlin turned violent with protesters throwing bottles and rocks at police and burning garbage containers and wooden pallets on the streets, news agency dpa reported. An unknown number of officers and protesters were injured and several demonstrators were detained.

In Italy, police faced off against a few hundred demonstrators in the northern city of Turin. In Rome, Italy’s head of state paid tribute to workers and health care workers.

“Particularly heavy has been the impact from the crisis on female labor and on the access of young people to jobs,’’ Italian President Sergio Mattarella said.

Across the Atlantic in Brazil, thousands of demonstrators backing President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-lockdown stance rallied at Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Copacabana beach — one of several such gatherings across the country.

Bolsonaro's office said he flew in a helicopter over a similar rally in the capital, Brasilia, where some demonstrators carried banners urging him to call in the military. There were also protests in Brasilia and other cities against Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic. Brazil has seen over 400,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, a toll second only to the United States.

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Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia, and Leicester from Le Pecq, France. AP journalists around the world contributed.

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Follow more of AP's pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

Participants demonstrate on May 1 "For the revival of the cultural and club scene, through the creative use of public space." in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)
Participants demonstrate on May 1 "For the revival of the cultural and club scene, through the creative use of public space." in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

Credit: Kay Nietfeld

Credit: Kay Nietfeld

Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions stage a May Day rally demanding better working conditions and expanding labor rights in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, May 1, 2021. The signs read: "Let's solve inequality." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions stage a May Day rally demanding better working conditions and expanding labor rights in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, May 1, 2021. The signs read: "Let's solve inequality." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Credit: Ahn Young-joon

Credit: Ahn Young-joon

Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions stage a May Day rally demanding better working conditions and expanding labor rights in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, May 1, 2021. The signs read: "Let's solve inequality." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions stage a May Day rally demanding better working conditions and expanding labor rights in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, May 1, 2021. The signs read: "Let's solve inequality." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Credit: Ahn Young-joon

Credit: Ahn Young-joon

A man wearing a shirt with the image of former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin attends a May Day rally on International Workers Day in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Activists marked May Day with defiant rally. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A man wearing a shirt with the image of former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin attends a May Day rally on International Workers Day in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Activists marked May Day with defiant rally. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Credit: Darko Vojinovic

Taiwanese workers shout and hold slogans during a May Day rally in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Thousands of protesters from different labor groups protest on the street to ask for increasing salary and securing annuity. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
Taiwanese workers shout and hold slogans during a May Day rally in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Thousands of protesters from different labor groups protest on the street to ask for increasing salary and securing annuity. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Credit: Chiang Ying-ying

Credit: Chiang Ying-ying

Numerous participants march at a rally of the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB) under the motto "Solidarity is the Future" in Munich, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)
Numerous participants march at a rally of the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB) under the motto "Solidarity is the Future" in Munich, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)

Credit: Matthias Balk

Credit: Matthias Balk

Workers of the leftist union CGT (General Work Confederation) demonstrate on May Day in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
Workers of the leftist union CGT (General Work Confederation) demonstrate on May Day in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

Credit: Daniel Cole

Credit: Daniel Cole

A protester reacts as police officers detain her after she and others tried to push through a police barricade towards Taksim Square in central Istanbul during May Day protests, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police in Istanbul detained several demonstrators who tried to march toward Istanbul's symbolic Taksim Square in defiance of the protests ban and the strict lockdown imposed by the government due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
A protester reacts as police officers detain her after she and others tried to push through a police barricade towards Taksim Square in central Istanbul during May Day protests, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police in Istanbul detained several demonstrators who tried to march toward Istanbul's symbolic Taksim Square in defiance of the protests ban and the strict lockdown imposed by the government due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Credit: Emrah Gurel

Credit: Emrah Gurel

Police officers detain protesters after they tried to push through a police barricade blocking acceaa towards Taksim Square in central Istanbul during May Day protests, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police in Istanbul detained several demonstrators who tried to march toward Istanbul's symbolic Taksim Square in defiance of the protests ban and the strict lockdown imposed by the government due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
Police officers detain protesters after they tried to push through a police barricade blocking acceaa towards Taksim Square in central Istanbul during May Day protests, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police in Istanbul detained several demonstrators who tried to march toward Istanbul's symbolic Taksim Square in defiance of the protests ban and the strict lockdown imposed by the government due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Credit: Emrah Gurel

Credit: Emrah Gurel

Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions scuffle with police officers during a May Day rally demanding better working conditions and expanding labor rights in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions scuffle with police officers during a May Day rally demanding better working conditions and expanding labor rights in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Credit: Ahn Young-joon

Credit: Ahn Young-joon

Protesters chant slogans as they walk towards a police barricade blocking Taksim Square in central Istanbul during May Day protests, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police in Istanbul detained several demonstrators who tried to march toward Istanbul's symbolic Taksim Square in defiance of the protests ban and the strict lockdown imposed by the government due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
Protesters chant slogans as they walk towards a police barricade blocking Taksim Square in central Istanbul during May Day protests, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police in Istanbul detained several demonstrators who tried to march toward Istanbul's symbolic Taksim Square in defiance of the protests ban and the strict lockdown imposed by the government due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Credit: Emrah Gurel

Credit: Emrah Gurel

Taiwanese workers hold slogans reading "Increase Salary" during a May Day rally in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Thousands of protesters from different labor groups protest on the street to ask for increasing salary and securing annuity. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
Taiwanese workers hold slogans reading "Increase Salary" during a May Day rally in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Thousands of protesters from different labor groups protest on the street to ask for increasing salary and securing annuity. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Credit: Chiang Ying-ying

Credit: Chiang Ying-ying

People gather on Copacabana Beach in a demonstration backing President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-coronavirus-lockdown stance, marking May Day, or International Workers' Day, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Brazil has seen over 400,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, a toll second only to the United States. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)
People gather on Copacabana Beach in a demonstration backing President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-coronavirus-lockdown stance, marking May Day, or International Workers' Day, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Brazil has seen over 400,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, a toll second only to the United States. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

Credit: Bruna Prado

Credit: Bruna Prado

Taiwanese workers shout and hold slogans reading "Increase Salary, Secure Annuity" during a May Day rally in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Thousands of protesters from different labor groups protest on the street to ask for increasing salary and securing annuity. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
Taiwanese workers shout and hold slogans reading "Increase Salary, Secure Annuity" during a May Day rally in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Thousands of protesters from different labor groups protest on the street to ask for increasing salary and securing annuity. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Credit: Chiang Ying-ying

Credit: Chiang Ying-ying

Workers stand near mock graves representing the deaths of labor rights during a May Day rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Workers in Indonesia marked international labor day on Saturday curtailed by strict limits on public gatherings to express anger at a new law they say could harm labor rights and welfare. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Workers stand near mock graves representing the deaths of labor rights during a May Day rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Workers in Indonesia marked international labor day on Saturday curtailed by strict limits on public gatherings to express anger at a new law they say could harm labor rights and welfare. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Credit: Dita Alangkara

Credit: Dita Alangkara

A woman stands next to a flag as people gather at the Bois de la Cambre park for a party called "La Boum 2" in Brussels, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police put on extra patrols Saturday to monitor the gathering which is being held in defiance of Belgium's current COVID-19 regulations. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
A woman stands next to a flag as people gather at the Bois de la Cambre park for a party called "La Boum 2" in Brussels, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police put on extra patrols Saturday to monitor the gathering which is being held in defiance of Belgium's current COVID-19 regulations. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Credit: Olivier Matthys

Credit: Olivier Matthys

Demonstrators watch riot police officers during May Day march scuffles Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Paris. Workers and union leaders dusted off bullhorns and flags that had stayed furled during coronavirus lockdowns for slimmed down but still boisterous May Day marches on Saturday, demanding more labor protections amid a pandemic that has turned economies and workplaces upside down. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)
Demonstrators watch riot police officers during May Day march scuffles Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Paris. Workers and union leaders dusted off bullhorns and flags that had stayed furled during coronavirus lockdowns for slimmed down but still boisterous May Day marches on Saturday, demanding more labor protections amid a pandemic that has turned economies and workplaces upside down. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

Credit: Lewis Joly

Credit: Lewis Joly

Police patrol as a woman rides her bike carrying balloons at the Bois de la Cambre park, during a party called "La Boum 2", in Brussels, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police put on extra patrols Saturday to monitor the gathering which is being held in defiance of Belgium's current COVID-19 regulations. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
Police patrol as a woman rides her bike carrying balloons at the Bois de la Cambre park, during a party called "La Boum 2", in Brussels, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police put on extra patrols Saturday to monitor the gathering which is being held in defiance of Belgium's current COVID-19 regulations. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Credit: Olivier Matthys

Credit: Olivier Matthys

Police in riot gear and on horseback form a line at the Bois de la Cambre park during a gathering called "La Boum 2" in Brussels, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police put on extra patrols Saturday to monitor the gathering which is being held in defiance of Belgium's current COVID-19 regulations. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
Police in riot gear and on horseback form a line at the Bois de la Cambre park during a gathering called "La Boum 2" in Brussels, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police put on extra patrols Saturday to monitor the gathering which is being held in defiance of Belgium's current COVID-19 regulations. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Credit: Olivier Matthys

Credit: Olivier Matthys

Police patrol in a van as people gather at the Bois de la Cambre park for a party called "La Boum 2" in Brussels, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police put on extra patrols Saturday to monitor the gathering which is being held in defiance of Belgium's current COVID-19 regulations. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
Police patrol in a van as people gather at the Bois de la Cambre park for a party called "La Boum 2" in Brussels, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police put on extra patrols Saturday to monitor the gathering which is being held in defiance of Belgium's current COVID-19 regulations. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Credit: Olivier Matthys

Credit: Olivier Matthys

A demonstrator with the Brazilian flag painted on his face, shouts slogans during a caravan in a demonstration backing President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-coronavirus-lockdown stance, marking May Day, or International Workers' Day, in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
A demonstrator with the Brazilian flag painted on his face, shouts slogans during a caravan in a demonstration backing President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-coronavirus-lockdown stance, marking May Day, or International Workers' Day, in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Credit: Eraldo Peres

Credit: Eraldo Peres

Riot police officers face demonstrators during May Day march incidents Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Paris. Workers and union leaders dusted off bullhorns and flags that had stayed furled during coronavirus lockdowns for slimmed down but still boisterous May Day marches on Saturday, demanding more labor protections amid a pandemic that has turned economies and workplaces upside down. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)
Riot police officers face demonstrators during May Day march incidents Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Paris. Workers and union leaders dusted off bullhorns and flags that had stayed furled during coronavirus lockdowns for slimmed down but still boisterous May Day marches on Saturday, demanding more labor protections amid a pandemic that has turned economies and workplaces upside down. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

Credit: Lewis Joly

Credit: Lewis Joly

Riot police officers stand behind a banner reading "authoritarianism" during May Day demonstration, Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Paris. Workers and union leaders dusted off bullhorns and flags that had stayed furled during coronavirus lockdowns for slimmed down but still boisterous May Day marches on Saturday, demanding more labor protections amid a pandemic that has turned economies and workplaces upside down. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)
Riot police officers stand behind a banner reading "authoritarianism" during May Day demonstration, Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Paris. Workers and union leaders dusted off bullhorns and flags that had stayed furled during coronavirus lockdowns for slimmed down but still boisterous May Day marches on Saturday, demanding more labor protections amid a pandemic that has turned economies and workplaces upside down. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

Credit: Lewis Joly

Credit: Lewis Joly

A worker raises his fist during May Day demonstration, Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Paris. Workers and union leaders dusted off bullhorns and flags that had stayed furled during coronavirus lockdowns for slimmed down but still boisterous May Day marches on Saturday, demanding more labor protections amid a pandemic that has turned economies and workplaces upside down. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A worker raises his fist during May Day demonstration, Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Paris. Workers and union leaders dusted off bullhorns and flags that had stayed furled during coronavirus lockdowns for slimmed down but still boisterous May Day marches on Saturday, demanding more labor protections amid a pandemic that has turned economies and workplaces upside down. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Credit: Thibault Camus

Credit: Thibault Camus

GGT leftist union leader Philippe Martinez gestures during May Day demonstration, Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Paris. Workers and union leaders dusted off bullhorns and flags that had stayed furled during coronavirus lockdowns for slimmed down but still boisterous May Day marches on Saturday, demanding more labor protections amid a pandemic that has turned economies and workplaces upside down. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
GGT leftist union leader Philippe Martinez gestures during May Day demonstration, Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Paris. Workers and union leaders dusted off bullhorns and flags that had stayed furled during coronavirus lockdowns for slimmed down but still boisterous May Day marches on Saturday, demanding more labor protections amid a pandemic that has turned economies and workplaces upside down. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Credit: Thibault Camus

Credit: Thibault Camus

Thousands of protestors attend a May Day rally at the Hermannplatz square in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Thousands of protestors attend a May Day rally at the Hermannplatz square in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Credit: Markus Schreiber

Credit: Markus Schreiber

Two men throw a bicycle onto a bonfire at the Bois de la Cambre park during a party called "La Boum 2" in Brussels, Saturday, May 1, 2021. A few thousand people gathered for an illegal party in a Brussels park Saturday to protest COVID-19 restrictions, only to be met with a big police force who used a water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowd. It was the second such open-air gathering in a month. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
Two men throw a bicycle onto a bonfire at the Bois de la Cambre park during a party called "La Boum 2" in Brussels, Saturday, May 1, 2021. A few thousand people gathered for an illegal party in a Brussels park Saturday to protest COVID-19 restrictions, only to be met with a big police force who used a water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowd. It was the second such open-air gathering in a month. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Credit: Olivier Matthys

Credit: Olivier Matthys

A woman holds an umbrella marked with pro-military phrases in Portuguese, during a rally backing President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-coronavirus-lockdown stance, marking May Day, or International Workers' Day, in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
A woman holds an umbrella marked with pro-military phrases in Portuguese, during a rally backing President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-coronavirus-lockdown stance, marking May Day, or International Workers' Day, in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Credit: Eraldo Peres

Credit: Eraldo Peres

People gather along Copacabana Beach in a demonstration backing President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-coronavirus-lockdown stance, marking May Day, or International Workers' Day, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Brazil has seen over 400,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, a toll second only to the United States. (AP Photo/Lucas Dumphreys)
People gather along Copacabana Beach in a demonstration backing President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-coronavirus-lockdown stance, marking May Day, or International Workers' Day, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Brazil has seen over 400,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, a toll second only to the United States. (AP Photo/Lucas Dumphreys)

Credit: Lucas Dumphreys

Credit: Lucas Dumphreys

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