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May Day in Spain

People gather during a demonstration to mark International Workers' Day in Madrid, Spain on May 1, 2022. (Photo: Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Workers Mark May Day With Pro-Labor Protests Worldwide

"It's a May Day of social and civil commitment for peace and labor," said Daniela Fumarola, head of Italy's CISL union.

Jessica Corbett

This is a developing story… Please check back for possible updates...

Workers and labor rights advocates across the globe came together Sunday for demonstrations marking International Workers' Day, or May Day.

Organizers held about 250 actions across France, many pressuring newly reelected French President Emmanuel Macron to ditch his plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 65. Reuters reported that "marchers carried banners reading 'Retirement Before Arthritis,' 'Retirement at 60, Freeze Prices,' and 'Macron, Get Out.'"

The news agency noted that "most rallies were peaceful but in Paris police intervened after black-clad 'Black Bloc' anarchists tried to erect a barricade in a street near La Republique Square."

A Sunday march in Paris was "dominated" by leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who finished third in the recent presidential race, according to the Associated Press. Melenchon said that "May Day is the time to rally for a reduction in working time. That reduction signifies one key thing—that workers should be getting a larger share of the wealth."

Italians planned an outdoor concert in Rome as well as events across the capital and country. The nation's three main labor unions acknowledged Russia's war on Ukraine in their actions, organizing under the slogan "Working for peace."

"It's a May Day of social and civil commitment for peace and labor," said the head of Italy's CISL union, Daniela Fumarola, the AP reported.

Demonstrators in Germany also expressed solidarity with Ukraine and called for an end to the Russia assault.

Euro Weekly News shared developments from Spain:

Thousands took to the streets, along with members of the communist CCOO and the 1888-founded UGT, across Spain.

The march in Madrid began at midday and was attended, by union leaders Pepe Álvarez (UGT) and Unai Sordo, and by the vice president and minister for labour, Yolanda Díaz, and the spokesperson of the executive, Isabel Rodríguez.

Díaz announced shortly before the start of one of "the most important demonstrations in the world" that the government will set up a commission of experts to address the "great reform of Spanish law, the statute of labour of the XXI century," and that in a few weeks they will work with social partners to develop a law of institutional participation.

Noting rallies held in Cambodia, Cyprus, Greece, India, Pakistan, Serbia, Sri Lanka, South Korea, and Turkey, Al Jazeera reported that "Turkish riot police arrested dozens of protesters trying to reach Istanbul's main Taksim Square for May Day demonstrations against economic hardship caused by raging inflation."

Meanwhile, in the United States, community-based organizations, rights groups, and unions met in Washington Square Park for a New York City March to tell Congress that immigrants "deserve stronger worker protections and a pathway to citizenship!"

Organizers of the NYC emphasized that the Covid-19 pandemic, which began over two years ago, has "disproportionately impacted Black and Brown communities" who have been "pushed to the frontlines as essential workers to provide for their families and our communities."

Demonstrators also directed those messages to decision-makers in Washington, D.C.—specifically urging President Joe Biden to protect immigrant workers with #DignityNotDetention.

Progressives in Congress marked May Day with calls to send the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to Biden's desk.

"I stand with the working people of America who are coming together, organizing new unions all over the place, and making their voices heard," tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) "Now let's pass the #PROAct already to roll out the welcome mat for even more organizing."

This year's demonstrations come on the heels of major organizing wins by Amazon and Starbucks employees, which Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) highlighted Sunday.

"From baristas to warehouse workers to teachers, there is a commonality—a working-class ground down decade after decade," he said. "Across the country, working people refuse to be cogs in the machine of the billionaire class. This #MayDay, let's remember the power of our solidarity."

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