May Day protesters demand more job protections amid pandemic

Communists party supporters gather with red flags to mark Labour Day, also knows as May Day near Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) © Provided by Associated Press Communists party supporters gather with red flags to mark Labour Day, also knows as May Day near Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

PARIS (AP) — Workers and union leaders dusted off bullhorns and flags that had stayed furled during coronavirus lockdowns for slimmed down but still boisterous May Day marches on Saturday, demanding more labor protections amid a pandemic that has turned economies and workplaces upside down.

Communists party supporters gather with a red flag decorated with Soviet Union Emblem to mark Labour Day, also knows as May Day near Red Square with the Historical Museum in the background in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko): Russia Labour Day © Provided by Associated Press Russia Labour Day

In countries that mark May 1 as International Labor Day, the annual celebration of workers' rights produced a rare sight during the pandemic: large and closely packed crowds, with marchers striding shoulder-to-shoulder with clenched fists behind banners. But in Turkey and the Philippines, police prevented the May Day protests, enforcing virus lockdowns.

Workers demonstrate with placards reading "Peril" on May Day in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole) © Provided by Associated Press Workers demonstrate with placards reading "Peril" on May Day in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

For labor leaders, the day was a test of their ability to mobilize workers in the face of the profound economic disruptions. In France, thousands took to the streets with trade union banners and flags. The face masks worn by many were a reminder of how much life has changed since the last traditional May Day celebrations — in 2019, before the spreading coronavirus wrecked lives and livelihoods and eroded civil liberties, often including the right to demonstrate.

Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions stage a May Day rally demanding better working conditions and expanding labor rights in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, May 1, 2021. The signs read: "Let's solve inequality." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) © Provided by Associated Press Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions stage a May Day rally demanding better working conditions and expanding labor rights in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, May 1, 2021. The signs read: "Let's solve inequality." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Some marches, constricted by coronavirus restrictions, were less well-attended than was traditional before the pandemic. But they still served as outlets for workers' concerns over jobs and protections.

A man wearing a shirt with the image of former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin attends a May Day rally on International Workers Day in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Activists marked May Day with defiant rally. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic): Serbia May Day © Provided by Associated Press Serbia May Day

In Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, thousands vented their anger at a new job creation law that critics fear will reduce severance pay, lessen restrictions for foreign workers, increase outsourcing and hurt workers in other ways as the nation seeks to attract more investment.

Indonesian workers shout slogan during a May Day rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Workers in Indonesia marked international labor day on Saturday curtailed by strict limits on public gatherings to express anger at a new law they say could harm labor rights and welfare. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara): Indonesia Asia Labor Day © Provided by Associated Press Indonesia Asia Labor Day

Protesters laid tomb effigies on the street to symbolize hopelessness. The Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions was expecting about 50,000 workers from 3,000 companies and factories to march in 200 cities.

Taiwanese workers shout and hold slogans during a May Day rally in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Thousands of protesters from different labor groups protest on the street to ask for increasing salary and securing annuity. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying) © Provided by Associated Press Taiwanese workers shout and hold slogans during a May Day rally in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Thousands of protesters from different labor groups protest on the street to ask for increasing salary and securing annuity. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

In the Philippine capital of Manila, where a monthlong coronavirus lockdown has been extended by two weeks amid a surge in infections, police prevented hundreds of workers from demonstrating at a public plaza, protest leader Renato Reyes said. But protesters did gather briefly at a busy Manila boulevard, demanding pandemic cash aid, wage subsidies and COVID-19 vaccines amid rising unemployment and hunger.

Coal miners hold Bosnian flags and march during a May Day rally on International Workers Day in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Some hundreds of Bosnian coal miners protest demanding better wages and working conditions. (AP Photo/Eldar Emric): Bosnia May Day © Provided by Associated Press Bosnia May Day

“Workers were largely left to fend for themselves while being locked down,” labor leader Josua Mata said.

People march past the City Hall during the traditional May Day rally in Madrid, Spain, Saturday May 1, 2021. The May Day or International Workers Day marches are commemorated as unions push for better rights for workers. Banners reads 'Now to keep your promises'. 'A country in debt with the workers' (AP Photo/Paul White) © Provided by Associated Press People march past the City Hall during the traditional May Day rally in Madrid, Spain, Saturday May 1, 2021. The May Day or International Workers Day marches are commemorated as unions push for better rights for workers. Banners reads 'Now to keep your promises'. 'A country in debt with the workers' (AP Photo/Paul White)

In Turkey, a few labor leaders were allowed to lay wreaths in Istanbul's Taksim Square but riot police stopped many others from reaching the plaza. The Progressive Lawyers’ Association said more than 200 people were detained. Turks are barred from leaving home, except to collect essential food and medicine, under a lockdown until May 17 that aims to halt a surge in infections. Protests were also banned around Taksim Square.

Numerous participants march at a rally of the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB) under the motto "Solidarity is the Future" in Munich, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Numerous participants march at a rally of the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB) under the motto "Solidarity is the Future" in Munich, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)

In France, political leaders on the far right and the far left who are expected to be President Emmanuel Macron's main challengers if he stands for re-election next year tore into his policies and his handling of the pandemic. Far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon told marchers: "I hope that on May 1, 2022, I can come back to see you as president of the republic.”

Workers demonstrate on May Day with a banner reading "Together against the jobless reform" in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole) © Provided by Associated Press Workers demonstrate on May Day with a banner reading "Together against the jobless reform" in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

France has seen over 104,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began.

Workers of the leftist union CGT (General Work Confederation) demonstrate on May Day in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole): Communists party supporters gather with red flags to mark Labour Day, also knows as May Day near Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) © Provided by Associated Press Communists party supporters gather with red flags to mark Labour Day, also knows as May Day near Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, May 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Broadcaster BFM-TV reported that French riot police fired small amounts of tear gas at two of the dozens of rallies called nationwide. Police in Paris said they made 10 arrests.

Police officers detain protesters after they tried to push through a police barricade towards Taksim Square in central Istanbul during May Day protests, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police in Istanbul detained several demonstrators who tried to march toward Istanbul's symbolic Taksim Square in defiance of the protests ban and the strict lockdown imposed by the government due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel) © Provided by Associated Press Police officers detain protesters after they tried to push through a police barricade towards Taksim Square in central Istanbul during May Day protests, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police in Istanbul detained several demonstrators who tried to march toward Istanbul's symbolic Taksim Square in defiance of the protests ban and the strict lockdown imposed by the government due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

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Police officers detain protesters after they tried to push through a police barricade blocking acceaa towards Taksim Square in central Istanbul during May Day protests, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police in Istanbul detained several demonstrators who tried to march toward Istanbul's symbolic Taksim Square in defiance of the protests ban and the strict lockdown imposed by the government due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel) © Provided by Associated Press Police officers detain protesters after they tried to push through a police barricade blocking acceaa towards Taksim Square in central Istanbul during May Day protests, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police in Istanbul detained several demonstrators who tried to march toward Istanbul's symbolic Taksim Square in defiance of the protests ban and the strict lockdown imposed by the government due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia, and Leicester from Le Pecq, France. AP journalists around the world contributed.

Police officers arrest protesters after they tried to push through a police barricade blocking acces towards Taksim Square in central Istanbul during May Day protests, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police in Istanbul detained several demonstrators who tried to march toward Istanbul's symbolic Taksim Square in defiance of the protests ban and the strict lockdown imposed by the government due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel) © Provided by Associated Press Police officers arrest protesters after they tried to push through a police barricade blocking acces towards Taksim Square in central Istanbul during May Day protests, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Police in Istanbul detained several demonstrators who tried to march toward Istanbul's symbolic Taksim Square in defiance of the protests ban and the strict lockdown imposed by the government due to the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

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Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions stage a May Day rally demanding better working conditions and expanding labor rights in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, May 1, 2021. The signs read: "Let's solve inequality." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) © Provided by Associated Press Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions stage a May Day rally demanding better working conditions and expanding labor rights in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, May 1, 2021. The signs read: "Let's solve inequality." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

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Indonesian workers stand spaced apart as a precaution against coronavirus outbreak, while holding mock sword and scales to symbolize justice during a May Day rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, May 1, 2021. Workers in Indonesia marked international labor day on Saturday curtailed by strict limits on public gatherings to express anger at a new law they say could harm labor rights and welfare. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

May Day protesters demand more job protections amid pandemic