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Workers take to the streets for May Day

But trouble flares in South Korea and Turkey

from Our Foreign Desk

MILLIONS of workers across the world marched on May Day yesterday — to widely differing receptions.

While tens of thousands of happy Cubans welcomed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution, turning their May Day into a celebration of international solidarity, Turkish police fired tear gas and water cannon at thousands of May Day protesters after they tried to march to Istanbul’s Taksim Square.

Thousands of police manned barricades and closed streets to stop protests and hundreds of would-be protesters were arrested.

In Cuba, Cuban Workers Confederation general secretary Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento told the crowds in the plaza that the country’s workers, along with the Cuban Five anti-terrorist fighters and the health workers who fought against the Ebola virus in Africa, were examples of socialist determination.

In Seoul, thousands of South Koreans marched to protest against government policies and the handling of the Sewol ferry disaster.

South Korean unions denounced a series of government policies to reduce wages, job security and retirement benefits for state employees.

“We, the workers, will force the administration of President Park Geun-hye to stop its repression of labour,” warned Korean Confederation of Trade Unions president Han Sang-goon at one of the rallies.

Demonstrators clashed with police and 12 people were detained for alleged assaults. Police blocked the marchers with parked buses and protesters tried to move the buses by pulling ropes tied to the vehicles. Police responded by pepper spraying them.

In divided Cyprus, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot working people marched across Nicosia and came together in the buffer zone of the divided capital.

The inspirational event was co-organised by the Pancyprian Federation of Labour PEO and Turkish Cypriot trade unions, all affiliated members of the World Federation of Trade Unions.

In the Philippines, more than 10,000 marched in Manila to protest against low wages and benefits cuts.

And in Greece, about 25,000 people took part in three separate May Day marches in Athens, carrying banners and shouting anti-austerity slogans.

Earlier, ministers from the governing Syriza party including Yanis Varoufakis joined protesters gathering for the marches.

In Thessaloniki, police said another 13,000 people took part in marches.

Everywhere across the world, the millions took to the streets. Their objectives varied, but their message overall was familiar: “Workers of all countries unite.”


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