Dozens of citizens protest on International Workers’ Day in front of the prime minister’s office

TIRANA, May 1 – Dozens of workers and students protested this Sunday, on International Workers’ Day, demanding better working conditions and higher wages and better living conditions.

They started the march from “Skenderbej” square towards the prime minister’s office in Tirana. Part of their calls were requests for price reductions for basket products.

The Migration Movement Group, which, among other things, demands that immigrants be granted the right to vote, took part in the protest.

Another group of protesters gathered in front of the prime minister’s office.

There are no reports for protests in other cities of Albania.

In the meantime, government authorities greeted the ‘workers’ for their holiday. Since the time of the communist rule, May 1 is celebrated as a holiday in Albania like in all former communist countries. The opposite happens in western countries where workers protest for their rights demanding better working and living conditions.

May Day’s origins as a festival marking the beginning of summer go back to pagan antiquity. In Ancient Rome, May 1 marked the midpoint of the Floralia, a week-long holiday honouring Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers. Centuries after Christianity became hegemonic across Europe, May Day remained rooted in its pagan origins – a fact recognised by the Puritans who took over England after the end of the Civil War in 1649 and banned May Day festivities such as Morris dancing, garlanding a Maypole with ribbons and crowning a May queen.

May Day took on its current significance as a day for industrial action and union-backed protest starting in Paris in 1889, when a loose federation of socialist groups and trade unions from an array of countries founded the Second (or Socialist) International. The federation, which advocated for parliamentary democracy while affirming its belief in the Marxist idea of the inevitability of class struggle, decided to designate May 1 as International Workers’ Day.

The Second International chose the date, in part, to mark the start of the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago. On May 1 of that year, workers, unionists, socialists and anarchists gathered, making Chicago the epicentre of a movement calling for an eight-hour workday. An estimated 35,000 participants left work to attend meetings and parade through the streets.

On May 3, police fired on demonstrators, killing at least one. Another rally was called for May 4 that went on mostly peacefully until the end, when police attempted to disperse the demonstration. An unknown individual threw a bomb at police, who responded with random gunfire; seven police and at least four civilians were killed in the ensuing violence. /Argumentum.al