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Workers around the world mark May Day with rallies for better working conditions

Demonstrators across the globe seized May Day, also known as International Workers' Day, as a moment to celebrate working-class contributions as they rallied for better labor rights, immigration overhauls, and other causes around social and economic equality.

New York City

Crowds of activists marched through lower Manhattan to demand worker protections and immigration overhauls on Sunday.

Local chapters of labor organizations affiliated with the AFL-CIO held a "United Against Union Busting" march and rally that kicked off at Union Square. Stopping points on the march's route included a Starbucks Roastery, a Whole Foods and a penthouse owned by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.

The event comes as workers at Starbucks and Amazon (which owns Whole Foods) drive a nationwide push to unionize. Those efforts that have been met with pushback from corporations working to break up the formation of unions.

Elsewhere, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., spoke at a rally in Foley Square championing immigrant labor. She demanded a full path to citizenship for immigrants.

"We are fighting for workers because workers fight for us," she told a crowd.


In France, demonstrators staged more than 200 marches and protests across the country, with a focus on Paris.

Violence broke out in the city, as some people smashed windows at banks and ripped up street signs. Police moved in, firing rounds of tear gas, according to The Associated Press.

Far-left protesters used the day to exercise their opposition to newly reelected President Emmanuel Macron and his plan to raise France's retirement age from 62 to 65.


In Istanbul on Sunday, Turkish police detained at least 164 people for demonstrating without permits and resisting police at Taksim Square, the AP reported, citing the city governor's office.

In what's known as the Asian side of Istanbul, thousands of May Day observers gathered in song, chants and banner-waving as part of a demonstration organized by the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey.

Taksim Square is a meaningful site to workers in Turkey, which in 2013 saw anti-government protests and in 1977 where an armed attack left dozens of labor protesters dead.


Chinese passed a normally busy national holiday weekend quietly this May Day. Many cities in China are currently under lockdown and travel is restricted due to the government's "zero-COVID" policy, which has prohibited millions of residents from leaving their homes. On Sunday, some restrictions eased in Shanghai, the country's largest city, but businesses remained closed and events canceled.


In Cuba, people took to the streets with banners and pictures of Cuban revolutionary leaders. President Miguel Díaz-Canel and retired leader Raul Castro led a massive march in the capital of Havana.

Government-led May Day marches in Cuba celebrate the 63-year-old Cuban revolution and are meant to serve as a rebuke to the U.S. embargo, as Reuters notes.


Sex workers in Kolkata's biggest red-light district, Sonagachi, marched on the eve of May Day as part of a rally held by a group working to decriminalize sex work and eliminate the profession's stigma.

"Our work is constitutional & our children need their mothers to have the status of a regular worker," Bishakha Laskar, president of the group known as the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, was quoted as saying according to the news agency ANI.

On Sunday, trade unions held rallies in multiple cities in India demanding better working conditions and more labor rights.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. [Copyright 2022 NPR]

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