Europeans mark International Workers' Day with sour mood, protests

2021-05-02 17:18:31
Europeans mark International Workers' Day with sour mood, protests

Europeans marked International Workers' Day, also known as Labor Day or May Day, with a grim mood and street protests. Many EU countries are feeling the health and economic backlash of COVID-19, including a double-dip recession in the 19-member euro currency zone.

Thousands of people protested across France on Saturday during International Workers' Day to demand social and economic justice and voice their opposition to government plans to change unemployment benefits.

Police made 46 arrests in the capital Paris, where hooded, black-clad demonstrators clashed with police. Garbage bins were set on fire and the windows of a bank branch were smashed, momentarily delaying the march.

More than 106,000 people marched throughout France, including 17,000 in Paris, according to the Interior Ministry.

Trade unionists were joined by members of the "Yellow Vest" movement, which triggered a wave of anti-government protests three years ago, and by workers from sectors hit hard by pandemic restrictions such as culture.

Marchers, most wearing masks in line with coronavirus rules, carried banners reading, "Dividends, not unemployment benefits are the income of lazy people," and, "We want to live, not survive".

The Prefecture de Police, which deployed 5,000 officers in Paris, said it had prevented 'Black Bloc' anarchists from forming a group. Three police officers were injured in Paris.

"Loads of money is going to those who have plenty and less for those who have nothing as reflected in the unemployment insurance reform plan that we want scrapped," Philippe Martinez, head of the CGT labour union said.

About 300 rallies were organised in French cities including Lyon, Nantes, Lille and Toulouse.

The eurozone overall has tipped into a new recession. Young people have been hit especially hard in European nations, with reports of university students going hungry.

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