- Workers have been called on to mobilize virtually on social media or stand on balconies and building facades with banners.
- On Thursday, the police in Berlin broke up a march which was organized without a permit in the Friedrichshain district.
- Labor Day passes this year amid expectations of a decline in the pace of the global economy.
Friday is “May Day” across the world, but the population— isolated and locked down— observed the day without any demonstrations or expected gatherings. This is despite the first measures to lift the quarantine in Europe, where the new Coronavirus caused an unprecedented economic disaster.
COVID-19 has also caused economic pain in the United States and many countries worldwide. There will be no traditional gathering on Friday for Labor Day, which is an official holiday in many countries of the world (with the exception of the United States, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere). This is unprecedented in the history of unions, which, in turn, called for other forms of action. Workers have been called on to mobilize virtually on social media or stand on balconies and building facades with banners.
According to several French unions, workers will try to remind them of the importance of working “hidden in our societies,” like health care workers and fund employees in stores, who “keep working and often risk their lives.”
Germany Deploys Police
In Germany, the holiday will be celebrated without protests or major public rallies for the first time in more than 70 years. Events celebrating May Day in cities across the country have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, the protagonists of these protests, the German Confederation of Trade Unions and the Social Democratic Party, are organizing activities online today. Nevertheless, police in cities like Berlin will be ready to disperse any gatherings that violate current social distancing rules. More than 20 small demonstrations were allowed in the capital, Berlin, with the number of participants not exceeding 20 each. This is far from the usual Labor Day events that witness the participation of thousands of people.
On Thursday, the police in Berlin broke up a march which was organized without a permit in the Friedrichshain district. Despite the restrictions imposed on gatherings in the framework of fighting the Coronavirus pandemic, dozens of citizens from the left movement gathered yesterday evening in a square. The police pushed them out of it.
In this context, the local Minister of the Interior in the state of Berlin, Andreas Geisel, announced earlier yesterday that the police will take swift and decisive action against the demonstrations that go out without a permit. The moderate and extremist leftist groups had previously announced that they would organize random demonstrations and protests in several places, afflicting the police with a kind of disturbance. In Germany, Labor Day is a day of tumultuous protests and crowded streets.
Labor Day passes this year amid expectations of a decline in the pace of the global economy. In the United States, where there is no official observance of May Day, more than 30 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits since the middle of last March. This represents a record number.
Several companies have also started publishing reports, including the e-commerce giant Amazon, which expects no profits for the next quarter. The Boeing Aerospace Group, which was badly hit by the interruption of international flights, has announced the issuance of bonds worth $25 billion.
In Europe, the economic crisis— unprecedented since the end of the Second World War— did not cause high numbers of workers to spend. However, it put millions of employees in “technical unemployment.” Thursday brought a series of figures to underscore the bleak outlook on the old continent.
France announced that its GDP decreased by 5.8 percent in the first quarter of this year, as well as Spain by 5.2 percent, and Italy by 4.7 percent. Germany said the number of unemployed rose by 13.2 percent.
In the Eurozone, activity fell by 3.8 percent, according to the European Bureau of Statistics, Eurostat. They warned that in the second quarter, the numbers will be worse. The European Central Bank, which has long been a savior of the Eurozone, announced Thursday that it is “ready” to boost its capabilities.