May Day protests occur throughout Switzerland

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Sunday, May 1, 2005 

International Labor Day, or May Day, has been marked by protests throughout Switzerland. Roughly 12,000 protesters organized across the country, rallying against the dismantling of social welfare, as well as wage dumping and the large salaries of top company officials.

The protests were peaceful, although minor skirmishes did occur in Zurich and Lucerne. These usually involved clashes between left and right extremists rather than with authorities. In one case, bottles and fireworks were used as weapons, but no injuries were reported.

Protesters in Geneva demand reform regarding illegal immigration, and equality for men and women. In Zurich trade unions urged the free movement of people, as well as an ending to the pressure on salaries.

Vasco Pedrina, Co-president of the union Unia, called the difference between high and low incomes a "existential and human tragedy". Pedrina and others, including Bern mayor Alexander Tschäppät, spoke out during the Saturday and Sunday period of protests.