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May Day Protests Held Around The World

  • RFE/RL

Turkish police and protesters clashed after authorities moved to prohibit traditional Labor Day rallies in Istanbul.

Turkish police and protesters clashed after authorities moved to prohibit traditional Labor Day rallies in Istanbul.

Thousands of demonstrators enraged by a deadly factory collapse have marched in May Day parades across Bangladesh.

Officials say more than 400 people were killed and about 2,500 others injured in the collapse of a factory building on the outskirts of Dhaka last week.

The protesters in the May 1 rallies demanded safeguards to be put in place and for the owner of the collapsed building to be punished.

Labor leader Amirul Hoq spoke to the Reuters news agency at the main protest in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka.

"We are actually celebrating this May Day with sorrow, because just a few days ago in a building collapse in which there were five factories, we actually lost 400 garment workers," he said. "Already some of the owners [were] arrested, and we demand the other owners and other responsible people should be arrested, and that there will be exemplary punishment of these factory owners as well as the building owners."

The European Union said it is considering "appropriate action" to encourage improvements in working conditions in Bangladesh factories, including freezing some trade benefits Bangladesh enjoys with the EU. The EU is Bangladesh's largest trading partner.

May Day protest actions were also held in other parts of Asia, a hub for low-cost manufacturing.

Laborers in Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines, and elsewhere marched in large numbers, voicing complaints about being squeezed by big business amid a surging cost of living.

In Europe, a 24-hour strike against government austerity measures in Greece disrupted public transport across the country.

Hundreds of people rallied outside parliament in the capital, waving flags and banners.

Marina Tsiapili, a jobless Athens resident, told reporters about her situation on what has traditionally been observed as Labor Day.

"I just received 420 euros of unemployment benefits, and my electricity bill alone was 400 euros, because we didn't have money to buy heating oil," she said. "So, you understand how I will get by. If I don't fight, for my children and my grandchildren, nothing will change. It's not just a symbolic commemoration, it is a strike."

EU statistics released on April 30 showed Greece with a record-high unemployment level of 27.2 percent.

In Istanbul, Turkish police and protesters clashed after authorities moved to prohibit traditional Labor Day rallies in a central part of the city.

Officials say 20 protesters were detained, while a number of people were reported injured.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and dpa
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