Friday, May 01, 2020
By
AFP

Balcony protests, e-rallies as epidemic curtails May Day demonstrations

With strict social distancing rules in most countries to halt the spread of the virus, many union leaders opted to delay public gatherings or move events online

By
AFP
AFP

PARIS: Workers of the world scaled back their traditional May Day demos Friday with coronavirus lockdowns forcing many to rally online instead, while a determined few hit the streets in face masks.

There were arrests in the Philippines and Turkey as dozens broke mandatory home confinement to hold public pickets, but most gatherings on this unusual Labour Day went without incident.

The traditional festival of the workers´ movement usually attracts millions of people to loud and boisterous marches, and occasional violent confrontations with police.

But with strict social distancing rules in most countries to halt the spread of the virus, many union leaders opted to delay public gatherings or move events online.

May Day carries extra significance this year after the COVID-19 outbreak sent the global economy into a historic tailspin, put unprecedented numbers of people out of work, and cast some of the world´s lower paid workers -- nurses, garbage collectors, shop tellers and delivery drivers -- in the role of modern-day heroes.

"It is thanks to the labour we celebrate on this day that the nation perseveres" said President Emmanuel Macron of France, where workers will celebrate the popular holiday by banging pots and singing on their balconies and taking part in online demonstrations.

"It is thanks to the work, the dedication, of our caregivers, civil protection personnel, the armed forces... that we save so many lives every day," Macron said in a message to the nation, also thanking farmers, civil servants, and other workers who have made it possible for "life to continue in spite of everything."