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Female garment workers participate in a May Day rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh. They are demanding six months of maternity leave and protections against sexual abuse in the workplace.
Mamunur Rashid/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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May Day labor protests around the world, in 17 photos

Workers are demanding paid maternity leave, minimum wage hikes, and shorter shifts.

Millions of workers across the world poured into the streets Wednesday for International Workers’ Day, an annual working-class rebellion known as May Day.

Bus drivers and housekeepers in Hong Kong rallied for a 44-hour workweek. Garment workers in Bangladesh demanded paid maternity leave. In the Philippines, workers marched for a higher minimum wage.

Some of the rallies were tame, but others were messy, dramatic, and even violent. Riot police in Turkey, Russia, France, and Italy clashed with crowds of agitated protesters and arrested hundreds of them.

Workers across the world have been spending May 1 this way for more than a century. Socialists in Europe picked the day to honor laborers killed in the Chicago Haymarket riot of 1886. Workers in the city had gone on strike that year on May 1, demanding an eight-hour workday in the US and across the globe. Clashes with police ended up killing eight people, and four labor leaders were later executed by hanging.

Historians consider the Haymarket riot a pivotal moment in the history of America’s labor movement, according to the National Park Service, which designated the site as a historic landmark. In the agency’s description of the strike’s significance, it’s easy to see how the event still inspires protests taking place today:

As a result of clashes between workers and police in Chicago following May Day rallies, and the subsequent execution of several protesters, May Day took on added significance as a day to commemorate the martyrdom of workers, and has been celebrated throughout the world since 1886.

More than a century after the Chicago strike, May Day rallies have expanded far beyond the US and Europe. In most countries, May 1 is a national holiday. And demonstrations often involve brawls with police.

Taipei, Taiwan

Workers in Taipei, Taiwan, march in the rain with signs that say “more holidays and social security.”
Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz Communist Party supporters hold red flags and portraits of Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Vyacheslav Oseledkov/AFP via Getty Images

Turin, Italy

Italian riot police beat back protesters on the streets of Turin. Food delivery drivers participated in the rally to demand a minimum hourly wage instead of a pay rate per order.
Mauro Ujetto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Garment workers rally for maternity leave and sexual harassment protections in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Mehedi Hasan/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Lyon, France

Demonstrators in Lyon, France, wear goggles and masks to protect themselves from tear gas. Public sector workers have been protesting President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to cut benefits for government employees.
Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Moscow, Russia

Labor unions with ties to the Kremlin organized peaceful marches through Moscow’s Red Square. Police arrested dozens of anti-government protesters.
Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Jakarta, Indonesia

Police block workers from marching to Indonesia’s national palace to demand higher wages.
Donal Husni/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Paris, France

Anti-riot police walk past a burning barricade during clashes with protesters in Paris. Many participants were part of France’s “Yellow Vest” movement, a group of leftists and workers upset about rising income inequality.
Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images

Ankara, Turkey

Members of Turkey’s labor party race down the street with a photo of Josef Stalin in downtown Ankara. Workers are angry about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on labor unions and strikes.
Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Algiers, Algeria

Workers chant anti-government slogans in the capital of Algeria. Teachers, miners, and factory workers have been striking for months to protest high unemployment and poverty under President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s regime.
Ryad Kramdif/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong, China

Migrants protest harsh working conditions in Hong Kong.
Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Seoul, South Korea

Construction workers in South Korea complain about deteriorating working conditions and demand equal pay for temporary workers.
Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Manila, Philippines

Workers burn an effigy of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte outside the presidential palace in Manila. They want the government to raise the minimum wage and require employers to honor labor contracts.
Ezra Acayan/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Plauen, Germany

Supporters of a right-wing political party, Third Way, march in a parade through Plauen, Germany. Critics have accused the neo-Nazi group of trying to co-opt May Day.
Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Gaza City, Palestinian territories

Palestinian women bang on pots during a rally in Gaza City. United Nations workers there have gone on strike to protest layoffs after US President Donald Trump stopped sending aid to Palestinians.
Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Lagos, Nigeria

Nigerian workers rally in response to the country’s economic downturn and to demand a stronger social safety net.
Pius Utopie Ekpeip/AFP via Getty Images

London, England

A woman holds a colored flare as Union members take part in the annual May Day march in London.
Leon Neal/Getty Images
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