Europe focus of global May Day labour protests
Labour activists have been holding marches and rallies in Europe and around the world to mark May Day, at a time of austerity and social unrest.
Politics coloured events in France – one of the eurozone’s dominant states – which elects a new president on Sunday.
In Greece, which elects a new parliament the same day, a march through Athens passed off peacefully.
Thousands are expected to attend rallies in Spain and Portugal, both struggling with debt burdens.
Workers in Asian states marched for better working conditions and the Occupy movement is planning events in North America.
International Workers’ Day, as the 1 May holiday is known officially, is meant to be a celebration of working people worldwide. A recognised national holiday in most of the developed world, it is also celebrated unofficially in some countries.
In France, far-right leader Marine Le Pen refused to back either candidate in the country’s presidential election run-off on Sunday, when she addressed supporters in Paris. Ms Le Pen, who came third in the first round last month, said National Front voters should vote with their conscience but added that both President Nicolas Sarkozy and his challenger, the Socialists’ Francois Hollande, would surrender power to Europe.
Attacking Mr Sarkozy’s five years in power and the ruling UMP party, she said she would “vote blank”. The National Front holds an annual march in Paris on 1 May to celebrate French heroine Joan of Arc. Mr Sarkozy, a conservative, is to hold his own rally in Paris this year with the theme of “real work”, while trade unions hold their traditional May Day march to the Bastille. Both Mr Sarkozy and Mr Hollande have been wooing the six million people who voted for Ms Le Pen in the first round.
In a speech in the town of Nevers, Mr Hollande voiced solidarity with trade unionists, saying: “When you have been a worker, when you have been a trade unionist, you know that inflation is a gnawing evil.”
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Category: World News |