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News > France

Europe Celebrates International Labor Day Amid Protests

  • Tens of thousands of people marched Sunday in cities around Europe for May Day protests to honor workers and shame governments into doing more for their citizens.

    Tens of thousands of people marched Sunday in cities around Europe for May Day protests to honor workers and shame governments into doing more for their citizens. | Photo: Twitter @JamaicaGleaner

Published 2 May 2022

Several European capitals, such as Madrid, Paris, Rome, Berlin, and Moscow were the scene of workers' mobilizations,  some of which turned into violent clashes with police.

Different mobilizations of workers' centers took place this Sunday in several European capitals on the occasion of International Labor Day.


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In Spain, thousands of workers demonstrated, summoned by the majority unions to celebrate the advance of labor rights, although they urged wage increases and other measures to compensate for the damage caused by inflation.

At the May Day demonstration in Madrid, union leaders warned that "much remains to be achieved", for example in relation to the causes and compensation for dismissals, and despite the increase in the minimum wage (SMI) or the law by which self-employed delivery workers of digital platforms become salaried employees.

In France, the unions that organized the rally are calling to protest against inflation, the wage gap and to fight to raise the standard of living. They also call for governments to pay close attention to the climate emergency and demand social benefits.

Traditionally, the French organize demonstrations and different events on May 1, but in the last two years they have celebrated it on a smaller scale due to the pandemic. In France, the workers' holiday was used as a sort of rallying cry against the newly re-elected president, Emmanuel Macron. The May Day demonstrations, a week after the French presidential election, are intended to show Macron the opposition he could face in his second five-year term.

In Italy, workers took to the streets to demand better wages, protection for family incomes, as well as a general call for peace in Europe.  St. Francis Square, in the city of Assisi, was the venue of the event called by the main Italian trade union centers with the slogan "To work for peace".

Workers from different sectors presented their demands before speeches by the general secretaries of the Italian Labor Union, Pierpaolo Bombardieri; the Italian Confederation of Workers' Unions, Luigi Sbarra; and the Italian General Confederation of Labor, Maurizio Landini.

Spring and Labor Day was also celebrated in Russia with rallies, concerts, and marches of trade unions and parties in regions where epidemiological conditions improved, after a two-year pause due to Covid-19.

The festivities in Moscow were accompanied by a car rally of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR) in support of the actions of the country's leadership in Ukraine.

This year's May Day celebrations in Germany on Sunday focused on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, alongside the more traditional social issues associated with International Workers' Day. Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned that war in Ukraine could lead to a global food crisis during his speech at a rally held by the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) in Düsseldorf.

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