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Workers of the world unite to mark International Labour Day

Millions of workers across the globe hit the streets today for mass rallies marking International Labour Day.

The focus in each country was different, but the central theme of working people’s rights was common to all of them.

In Turkey, protesters defied a ban on demonstrations in Istanbul’s Taksim Square even as police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse them.

In Cambodia, hundreds of protesters near Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park suffered indignity at the hands of security forces armed with sticks and batons.

Rallies took place across Asia, including in Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Taipei and Seoul, where the annual protests took a sombre tone in the wake of the South Korean ferry disaster.

And in Russia, over 100,000 workers paraded on Red Square for the first time since 1991.

Meanwhile, Greek steel workers in hard hats and high-visibility vests marched in company with Kurdish activists and suspended Finance Ministry cleaning workers.

The chained together for a parade in central Athens in a 20,000-strong anti-austerity protest.

Indonesian unions said up to two million workers turned out in force to demand better working conditions, with the biggest rally in Jakarta, where around 35,000 workers hit the streets.

Union organisers in Hong Kong said some 5,000 people joined a march from the city’s Victoria Park to government headquarters, with better working hours topping their agenda.

Malaysians rallied in Kuala Lumpur against price rises.

Thousands of Taiwanese workers marched to the labour ministry demanding wage rises and a ban on companies hiring cheap temporary or part-time workers.

The Philippines saw thousands march in Manila to protest against low wages and the use of scab workers.

In Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told thousands of workers gathered to celebrate May Day that he supported the establishment of unions “free of any interference by the state.”

Meanwhile in Baghdad, Iraqi Communist Party members held a rally near the party headquarters.

And in Bangladesh, many thousands of garment workers used the day to demand punishment for negiligent factory owners and compensation for their victims in Dhaka.

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