Violence erupts in May Day protests in Paris, marchers criticise re-elected Macron


Marchers carried banners reading “Retirement Before Arthritis”, “Retirement at 60, Freeze Prices” and “Macron, Get Out”.

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“The government has got to deal with the purchasing power problem by raising wages,” Philippe Martinez, the head of the hardline CGT union, told Reuters before the rallies.

Macron won a new five-year presidential term after beating far-right challenger Marine Le Pen in last Sunday’s runoff vote.

Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came third in the first round of the presidential vote, attended the Paris march.

He wants to rally a union of the left, including the Greens, to dominate parliament and force Macron into an awkward “cohabitation” but so far this has not materialised.

“We will not make a single concession on pensions,” Melenchon said before the march started.

He said he still hoped an agreement to build a new union of the left could be reached by this evening.

Unlike in previous years, Marine Le Pen did not lay a wreath in Paris at the statue of Joan or Arc, whom her party uses as a nationalist symbol. She was replaced by the Rassemblement National Interim President Jordan Bardella, who said Le Pen was preparing for the legislative elections.

Le Pen urged voters in a video message to elect as many deputies from her party as possible in June so that she could “protect your purchasing power,” and prevent Macron from carrying a “harmful project for France and the French people”.

The parliamentary elections will be held on June 12 and 19.

May Day is often a time of high emotions for workers in Europe, and protests in the last two years have been limited by pandemic restrictions.

Turkish police moved in quickly in Istanbul to encircle protesters near the barred-off Taksim Square — where 34 people were killed In 1977 during a May Day event.

Demonstrators clash with Turkish police officers during a May Day protest in Istanbul, Turkey.Credit:AP

On Sunday, Turkish police detained 164 people for demonstrating without permits and resisting police at the square, the Istanbul governor’s office said. On the Asian side of sprawling Istanbul, a May Day union-organised gathering drew thousands who sang, chanted and waved banners.

Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey briefly interrupted her May Day speech at a trade union rally where someone threw an egg at her but missed. Giffey, of the centre-left Social Democrats, was met by loud protests during her speech. Giffey called the egg tossing “neither helpful nor politically valuable”.

In Italy, after a two-year pandemic lull, an outdoor mega-concert was being held in Rome after rallies and protests in cities across the country. Besides improving conditions for workers, peace was an underlying theme, with many calls for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Italy’s three main labor unions held their main rally in the hilltop town of Assisi, a frequent destination for peace protests.

“It’s a May Day of social and civil commitment for peace and labor,” said the head of Italy’s CISL union, Daniela Fumarola.

In Russia, a motorcade organised by the country’s trade unions supportive of the invasion of Ukraine finished its cross-country trip in Moscow Sunday to mark May Day. Participating were 70 cars representing all Russian regions from Vladivostok to Astrakhan, as well as the Russia-backed separatist administrations controlling parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

May Day celebrations in Russia also saw the arrests of antiwar protesters and bystanders across the country, including some who demonstrated in support of the authorities. According to reports by the Russian legal aid group OVD-Info, which tracks political arrests, a man was detained in Moscow after holding up a sign in support of the FSB and President Vladimir Putin.

Rising inflation and fears of upcoming food shortages from the war in Ukraine were feeding discontent around the world.

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Thousands of workers, unemployed people and retirees marched peacefully in North Macedonia’s capital of Skopje, demanding wage increases and respect for workers’ rights. Inflation, running at an annual clip of 8.8 per cent in March, is at a 14-year-high.

Darko Dimovski, head of the country’s Federation of Trade Unions, told the crowd that workers are demanding an across-the-board wage increase.

“The economic crisis has eaten up workers salaries,” he said.



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