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It’s International Workers’ Day: May Day Marches Around The World
May 1, 2013
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May 1 is International Workers' Day (aka May Day), and all over the globe people are marching in the streets - and in some cases clashing with authorities - to express their solidarity with workers' rights.

The day originated as a commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago, which started when police were trying to disperse a crowd striking for the right to an eight-hour workday.

One of the protesters threw a bomb at the officers, who opened fire. Four demonstrators were killed.

In 1889, socialist organization the Second International called for worldwide demonstrations on the first of May 1890 to commemorate the anniversary of Haymarket, and they have taken place every year since.

There's a lot of anger among demonstrators in various parts of the world this year, according to the Christian Science Monitor's Ryan Lenora Brown.

"From Europe, where the bite of austerity has left many facing down unemployment and reduced benefits, to South and Southeast Asia, a region cluttered with precariously-built factories similar to the one that collapsed last week in Bangladesh, demonstrators gathered to vent outrage and demand reform," she writes.

Following the factory collapse, protesters marched in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with some demanding the death penalty for the factory's owner.

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Protesters in Dhaka (Photo: Getty)

While protesters marched in central Dhaka, in the industrial suburb of Savar, workers continued to search through the rubble for bodies and survivors.

And in Europe, many protests focused on government-imposed austerity measures.

One Spanish union leader told Reuters that there has "never been a May 1 with more reason to take to the streets," and marchers carried signs featuring slogans like "austerity ruins and kills, and "reforms are robberies."

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Spanish protesters march to protest the government's austerity measures in Barcelona (Photo: Getty)

In Athens, protests shut down public transit. Recently the Greek government announced that it will lay off 180,000 civil servants over the next two years.

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Communist-affiliated protesters and foreign workers gather in Athens to march against austerity measures (Photo: Getty)

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A dressed-up protestor in Berlin (Photo: Getty)

Here's a visual round-up of the scene in various other countries today:

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Marchers in Revolution Square in Havana carry a picture of Fidel Castro (Photo: Getty)

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Riot police confront demonstrators in Santiago, Chile (Photo: Getty)

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Members of labour unions march in a May Day rally in Sao Paulo, Brazil (Photo: Getty)

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Workers march in a protest rally during May Day celebrations on May 1, 2013 in La Paz, Bolivia (Photo: Getty)

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Members of the Egyptian Communist Party and others march in Cairo (Photo: Getty)

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Lesbian workers join the May Day rally in Asuncion, Paraguay (Photo: Getty)

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A march for the rights of immigrant workers in NYC (Photo: Getty)

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Young people at the "workers' day concert' in Rome's Piazza San Giovanni (Photo: Getty)

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Labour union members march in Guatemala City, Guatemala (Photo: Getty)

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Demonstrators in Turkey organize a makeshift barricade (Photo: Getty)

If May Day was all about the amount of time people work each day, it's possible more Canadians might take to the streets.

According to data from a 2011 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report, Canadians came fourth on the list of countries that work the most minutes, paid and unpaid, per day.

And the fewest minutes? Those lucky Belgians:

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Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Of course, May 1 wasn't always International Workers' Day. And while many were out marching in support of workers, others were looking to earlier traditions.

In Glastonbury, revellers gathered to celebrate the start of summer by raising a Maypole and dressing up in costumes. It's all part of Beltane, a May 1 traditional celebration for druids and pagans.

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A Maypole is raised in Glastonbury, England (Photo: Getty)

And in Munich, people also raised a Maypole, in a tradition that dates back to the 16th century.

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A Maypole in Munich, Germany (Photo: Getty)

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