May Day rallies tap into broader frustrations

People squeezed by inflation and demanding economic justice took to the streets of cities across Asia and Europe to mark May Day on Monday, in a global outpouring of worker discontent not seen since before the COVID-19 pandemic sent the world into lockdowns.
French unions pushed the president to scrap a higher retirement age. South Koreans pleaded for higher wages. Spanish lawyers demanded the right to take days off. Migrant domestic workers in Lebanon marched in a country plunged in economic crisis, AP reported.
While May Day is marked around the world on May 1 as a celebration of labor rights, this year’s rallies tapped into broader frustrations. Climate activists spraypainted a Louis Vuitton museum in Paris, and protesters in Germany demonstrated against violence targeting women.
Celebrations were forced indoors in Pakistan and tinged with political tensions in Turkey, as both countries face high-stakes elections. Russia’s war in Ukraine overshadowed scaled-back events in Moscow, where Communist-led May Day celebrations were once massive affairs.
Across Asia, this year’s May Day events unleashed pent-up frustration after three years of COVID-19 restrictions. This year’s events had bigger turnouts than in previous years in Asian cities, as activists in many countries argued governments should do more to improve workers’ lives.
Across France, thousands marched in what unions hope are the country’s biggest May Day demonstrations in years, mobilized against President Emmanuel Macron’s recent move to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. While marchers appeared largely peaceful, police detained 22 people in Paris and dispersed protesters in Lyon with tear gas after troublemakers smashed bank windows and other property. French police have come under fire for using drones to film disruptions on Monday in some cities.


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