May 1st, the workers' holiday, is usually a day of mass union-organised demonstrations in France.
But with no public gatherings allowed under the strict coronavirus lockdown conditions, unions are looking for different ways to honour the May Day spirit.
A group of seven unions have issued a joint call for 'balcony demonstrations' on May 1st, which is a public holiday in France.
Même confiné.e.s, manifestons toutes et tous le 1er-Mai, avec des pancartes, banderoles ou en envahissant les réseaux sociaux (…) et donnons à cette journée une véritable force collective ! pic.twitter.com/sQMgkhLCuu
— La CGT (@lacgtcommunique) April 20, 2020
“Even if we are confined, let's all demonstrate on May 1st with placards, banners or by invading social networks, and give this day a real collective strength,” read the joint statement from the CGT, FSU, Solidaires et les mouvements lycéens Fidl, MNL and UNL et étudiant Unef unions.
The unions suggest hanging placards and banners from balconies as well as joining in with social media campaigns.
The theme suggested is the “invisible workers in our society” – the often low-paid key workers such as nurses, street cleaners and supermarket staff who have been shown by the lockdown to be such essential parts of any society.
“It is first and foremost all health workers who have not counted their hours and their dedication,” but also employees, “often women, in commerce, food processing, paramedical, social and cleaning services, public sector workers, and more broadly those who work in the service of the population,” the unions said, adding that these people were often risking their lives to continue working during the lockdown.
The unions are calling for wage increases and raising the minimum wage.