Russia May Day

Communist party supporters march with a flag depicting Soviet Union founder Lenin during a May Day rally in St.Petersburg, Russia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

BERLIN | Higher salaries, better working conditions, maternity leave, minimum wage and an end to discrimination against temporary or foreign workers: These were among the concerns as hundreds of thousands of union members and labor activists rallied around the world to mark May Day.

The tradition of May Day marches for workers’ rights began in the United States in the 1880s. It quickly spread to other countries at a time when industrialization pitted poorly paid employees who had few protections and little power against increasingly dominant factory employers and landowners.

Over the decades, the May Day protests also have become an opportunity to air general economic grievances or political demands.

Thousands of Puerto Ricans marched to traditional music while protesting austerity measures, with many participants at a May Day event demanding the ouster of a federal control board overseeing the U.S. territory’s finances.

Authorities in Russia said about 100,000 people took part in a May Day rally in central Moscow organized by Kremlin-friendly trade unions on Red Square. Opposition activists said more than 100 people were detained in several cities, including for participating in unsanctioned political protests.

French police clashed with stone-throwing protesters who set fires and smashed up vehicles as tens of thousands of people marched peacefully under tight security.