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May Day marches likely to be bigger than ever in world’s cities

January 5, 2009 - WORLD

The global economic crisis can be counted on to swell the traditional May Day marches and protests. May 1, also known as International Workers' Day and Labor Day, commemorates the contributions and achievements of working people. Workers blame governments and employers for closures and job losses. The protests against the way governments are handling the crisis started early in some cities. In France, May Day could set off more bossnapping - French workers holding their bosses hostage.

The global economic crisis can be counted on to swell the traditional May Day marches and protests. May 1, also known as International Workers\' Day and Labor Day, commemorates the contributions and achievements of working people. Workers blame governments and employers for closures and job losses. The protests against the way governments are handling the crisis started early in some cities. In France, May Day could set off more \"bossnapping\" -- French workers holding their bosses hostage. In France, as elsewhere, the juxtaposition of job losses with constant news of bonuses and \"golden parachutes\" for failed bosses has created exasperation and anger. Four executives at a Caterpillar plant in the French Alps were forced to spend the night recently on the carpets of their offices, according to an AP report -; the third example of a \"bossnapping\" in France in the past two weeks. The American heavy-plant manufacturer plans to cut 700 jobs in France. President Nicolas Sarkozy is reported to be worried that the recession could provoke a \"spring of discontent,\" comparable to the unrest of May 1968. Typically, the demonstrators are trade unionists and non-unionists from many different occupations, anti-globalization and anti-capitalist activists, students and political bodies. They come together in a show of working class solidarity. In Los Angeles and several other big United States cities this May Day, immigrant workers and their supporters, demanding an end to what they describe as draconian enforcement policies, are expected to swell demonstrations protesting layoffs and hard times. Italian organizers have targeted the 25 Apr national day, May 1 and Republic Day on June 2 for their biggest marches in Rome. They are predicting millions will turn out from all over Italy to demonstrate against Prime Minister Berlusconi\'s policies. Anti-government demonstrations against the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva are ongoing in Thailand, with the chance the May Day protests could tip the country into civil war. He has warned his government will take \"decisive action\" against demonstrators if they incited rioting or broke the law. Taiwanese workers will take to the streets on May 1 to demand long-term jobs and tougher action against layoffs, according to Taiwanese labor groups. The Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions announced plans for a Labor Day march by eight organizations. If the government makes no positive response to labor\'s demands, the union will try and hand a symbolic dismissal notice to President Ma Ying-jeou during the May 1 march, organizers say. Apr/09

Bossnapped! (It\'s French for industrial action) (independent 3 Apr 2009)

Mass protest in Rome over financial crisis (AFP 3 Apr 2009)

Date written/update: 2009-01-05