Workers mark May Day with protest rallies in France, Spain, Germany

Protests erupted in a number of European countries on May Day as demonstrators called for better working protections in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis attributed to it.

Protesters took to the streets of France, Spain and Germany on May 1, which marks International Labor Day commemorating laborers and the working class.

Protest rallies typically occur every year in many countries on May Day, but they took on a new meaning this year after months of lockdowns and economic hardships that have impacted the livelihoods of most employees and workers.

In French cities, demonstrators clashed with police, breaking windows and starting fires.

Police responded by firing tear gas and arresting dozens of the protesters.

“We have many reasons to come and rally — the health and social situations and the general impoverishment of society,” said Ivan Gineste, 50, who works in the southeastern city of Lyon.

Members of the yellow vest movement, which held regular rallies against President Emmanuel Macron’s polices two years ago before largely fizzling out, could also be spotted at protests up and down the country.

In Germany, demonstrators took to the streets in several cities, throwing fireworks, bottles and rocks in protests over issues ranging from social inequality to rising rents to the country’s immigration policy and opposition to coronavirus curbs.

Police responded with pepper spray and detentions at the second May Day protests since the start of the pandemic. The crowds were larger this year despite social distancing requirements.

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