Hundreds of activists took to the streets of Istanbul, Turkey on Sunday to mark international workers day, or May Day.


Around 200,000 demonstrators rallied in Taksim Square demanding more jobs, better working conditions and higher wages.

Sunday’s rally was the largest in Taksim Square since 34 people died there on May Day in 1977 when a shooting triggered a stampede.

Last year was the first time Turkish unions were allowed to return.

Hasan Nekis a retired worker took part in Sunday’s demonstration and said he was pleased to see labour demonstrators return to the square after the 1977 clashes.

Another demonstrator, Cetin Kalsoy said he was in the square the day of the 1977 clashes and said he wanted to see Turkey reach “western levels of democracy and freedom.”

Pro-labour demonstrators also gathered in Greece on Sunday, where members of the PAME (All Workers Militant Front) trade union demonstrated against the the Greek government’s austerity measures.

A few passionate PAME members threw buckets of red paint at the exterior gate of the French embassy in Athens, to protest against what they see as France’s hardline approach to the conflict in Libya.

Hundreds of trade union supporters gathered in Syntagma square holding banners and flags supporting May Day.

Many were there to voice their opposition to the Greek government’s austerity measures.

Greek residents have been hit hard by the country’s faltering economy which teetered on the brink of bankruptcy just one year ago.

At least 160,000 more people have lost their jobs since April 23, 2010, with government austerity accelerating layoffs and business failures.

The country’s Socialist government has slashed 14 billion euros (20.4 billion US dollars) off the budget deficit in 2010 using salary and pension cuts and a raft of unpopular measures aimed at reducing waste in the public sector and protective market rules.

It is reported that nearly one fifth of Greeks live below the poverty line and, according to the Mayor of Athens, their numbers are increasing.

Margarita Reissi, a demonstrator who joined the rally on Sunday said May Day has a special significance for Greek residents now.

“It means even more because of the extra measures the government is thinking about imposing on us all,” she said.

Also on Sunday, Greek rail and port workers staged a strike against the austerity measures.

The strike caught a few travellers at the port and train stations short. Many travellers were seen waiting outside closed rail and boat ticket offices unaware of the strike.

One traveller named only as Tassos, said he agreed with the strike but said a little advance warning to passengers would have been helpful.

Other May Day demonstrations also took place in South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines, China and Russia.