Hundreds of thousands of people filled squares in Turkish cities on Tuesday to mark May 1, celebrated as Labor Day in Turkey and many countries around the world. The official name of May 1 in Turkey is Labor and Solidarity Day.
Members of trade unions and other civil society organizations in İstanbul met in Taksim Square in the morning. People chanted slogans and held posters celebrating May 1. The celebrations in Taksim started with a solemn ceremony for the victims of Bloody May Day, which took place May 1, 1977 when unknown snipers opened fire on the celebrating crowds in Taksim Square, killing dozens of people. The organizing committee left flowers in front of the monument erected near Kazancı Hill in their memory, following a minute of silence for the victims.
Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions (DİSK) head Erol Ekici, Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK) head Lami Özgen, Republican People’s Party Deputy Chairman Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Democratic Left Party (DSP) leader Masum Türker also joined the celebrations. KESK, DİSK, the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architects’ Chambers (TMMOB) and the Turkish Doctors Union (TTB) co-organized the celebrations this year, with trade unions traditionally affiliated with the right wing holding separate events.
Employment and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik also attended May 1 celebrations in Ankara. He responded to demands from public servants for a 16 percent increase in monthly wages, saying: “We will sit around the table. We started [collective bargaining talks] yesterday, and we will continue. You will demand, as a necessity of democracy, and we will try to give you what you want.” Çelik’s attendance marks the first time a minister has attended Labor Day celebrations in more than three decades.