Turkish May Day protesters, 2006. (AP Photo/Murad Sezer)

Governments Prepare for International Labor Day Protests

May 01, 2008 09:43 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
This year’s May Day festivities brought protests over continued labor rights abuses around the globe.

30-Second Summary

Arriving amid a growing global credit crunch, this year’s International Labor Day is punctuated by a number of recent stories illustrating how workers’ rights abuses continue today. 

For example, the International Herald Tribune reported Wednesday that Chinese authorities had freed about 100 Chinese teenagers who were being forced to work 300-hour weeks for meager pay in factories along country’s coast. But worker abuses are not limited to developing countries.

Workers in South Korea, a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, averaged 2,357 hours on the job in 2006. And the Korea Times writes that migrant workers coming to seek the “Korean Dream” are subject to “exploitation, abuse of human rights, occupational accidents and disease.”

Cities across the globe took precautions before this year’s May Day festivities. Istanbul municipal authorities are cutting off public transit and road arteries to the city’s central Taksim Square, a traditional home to protests. Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay told Reuters, “There are necessary reasons for this … Taksim Square has a lot of traffic, and it's difficult to control.”

A CNN clip shows Turkish police shooting a fire hose at protesters.

Although some in the United States dismiss May Day as a Communist construct, the day actually has Midwestern roots. Following a Chicago decree stating that "eight hours shall constitute a legal day's labor from and after May 1, 1886," thousands of workers celebrated by walking off their jobs and attending labor movement speeches.

Headline Links: Cities prepare for May Day protests

Video: May Day protests

Background: Worker abuses

Historical Context: ‘The Brief Origins of May Day’

Reference: FindingDulcinea’s Web Guide to U.S. History

Related Topic: ‘On this Day: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Kills 146’


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