A wrap-up of the world’s May Day protests against austerity for worker rights
OSCAR LEÓN, TRNN PRODUCER: On May 1, 2014, hundreds of thousands around the world celebrated May Day, also known International Labor Day, with marches, rallies, and protests against austerity, official corruption, calling for higher pay and the greater protection of workers’ rights. Actions took place in cities like London, England; Hong Kong; Jakarta, Indonesia; Washington, D.C., United States; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Seoul, South Korea; Baltimore, Maryland; Madrid, Spain. In Barcelona, the country’s second-largest city, thousands marched in protest about the cuts in public funding and against austerity.
PROTESTER, BARCELONA (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): We reject the neoliberal policies and the Washington Consensus, which for many years now have been imposed in our European countries. This is evident by the banking and financial crisis we experience.
LEON: There was violence across Turkey, including Istanbul and Ankara, as labor and anti-government demonstrators marked the day by defying a ban on occupying Taksim Square to protest against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan.
PROTESTER, TAKSIM SQUARE, ISTANBUL: Well, I’m here because it’s Labor Day, May 1, and out of 364 days–in the days, it’s the only day that’s for, like, working class. Right now, everybody on the street is determined to go to Taksim.
LEON: They were reportedly met by tens of thousands of riot police armed with tear gas and water canons. Hundreds were injured and arrested in the crackdown.
In the United States, actions took part from coast to coast, in cities from New York to Seattle, to protest corporate greed and call for a $15 minimum wage, days after Congressional action over increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 was blocked by a Republican filibuster in the Senate.
Seattle mayor announced he reached a deal to gradually phase in a $15 minium wage, which will be the highest in the country. Socialist councilwoman Kshama Sawant, however, is leading a campaign to put it into effect almost immediately, saying: “Every year of a phase-in means yet another year in poverty for a worker.”
In Seattle, authorities say they discovered threats to law enforcement, but it appears their concerns were overstated. The vast majority of demonstrators who were calling for immigrants rights and worker rights were peaceful. Despite a massive show of force by police, at time of publishing only one arrest had been reported.
In Detroit, Michigan protests targeted what they say is the undemocratic emergency manager law, which imposes state control over the city’s finance and bankrutpcy negotiations.
In Oregon, thousands marched in rallies across the state to oppose budget cuts and to demand better protections for workers.
Thousands took part in multiple marches, shutting down traffic across Chicago and Los Angeles, where the primary focus was human and immigrants rights, decrying the lack of legislative action on comprehensive immigration reform and the halt to the Obama administration’s record 2 million deportations.
Tens of thousands of workers marched for higher wages in South Africa, including at a rally lead by president Jacob Zuma.
Thousands rallied across Morocco, where the AP reports the minimum wage will be increased by 10 percent.
In Eastern Ukraine, May Day demonstrations turned violent as pro-Russian protestors clashed with Ukrainian police and security forces.
Tens of thousands of Russians marched in the Russian capital in the first official May Day celebration since 1991. Meanwhile, protestors rallied in downtown Moscow demanding LGBT rights and end to tensions and military standoff with Ukraine.
With Jaisal Noor, this is Oscar León.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.