BERLIN — Higher salaries, better working conditions, maternity leave, minimum wage and an end to discrimination against temporary or foreign workers: These were among the concerns as hundreds of thousands of union members and labor activists rallied around the world to mark May Day.
The tradition of May Day marches for workers’ rights began in the United States in the 1880s. It quickly spread to other countries at a time when industrialization pitted poorly paid employees who had few protections and little power against increasingly dominant factory employers and landowners.
Here’s a look at Wednesday’s protests:
Protesters mourn Puerto Rico’s plight
Thousands of Puerto Ricans marched to traditional music while protesting austerity measures, with many participants at a May Day event demanding the ouster of a federal control board overseeing the U.S. territory’s finances.
Many in the crowd in San Juan waved Puerto Rican flags made in black and white rather than red, white and blue to symbolize mourning for the island’s plight, especially since September 2017’s Hurricane Maria.
May Day halts transport in Greece
Union rallies in Greece paralyzed transport services. Hundreds of people gathered in central Athens on Wednesday for three separate marches to parliament organized by rival unions and left-wing groups.
Russian Workers march at Red Square
Authorities in Russia said about 100,000 people took part in a May Day rally in central Moscow organized by Kremlin-friendly trade unions on Red Square. Opposition activists said more than 100 people were detained in several cities, including for participating in unsanctioned political protests.
In St. Petersburg, police arrested over 60 supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Some carried signs saying “Putin is not immortal,” in reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been at the helm since 2000.
Agitators disrupt May Day in France
France’s Interior Ministry deployed 7,400 police officers in Paris to counter troublemakers, who disrupted May Day events in the last several years. About 330 arrests were made Wednesday.
While some of the people clashing with police wore the signature yellow vests of a French anti-government movement, the peaceful march also had participants in yellow vests as well as waving labor union flags.
German unions denounce nationalism
Germany’s biggest trade union urged voters to participate in this month’s European Parliament election and reject nationalism and right-wing populism.
The DGB, a confederation of unions with almost six million members, warned that the political and economic turmoil in Britain following its vote to leave the EU nationalism “shows what happens if those who stoke fear but have no plan for the future gain the upper hand.”
When night fell, hooded demonstrators lit flares during a traditional May Day event put on by left-wing groups in Berlin. Police arrested ogress in nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.
Spanish workers press new gov’t
Spain’s workers marched in its major cities to make their voices heard days before acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez starts negotiating with other parties to form a new government. Leading labor unions are pressing Sánchez to roll back business-friendly labor and fiscal reforms that have remained in place since the conservatives were in charge.