Around 10,000 people took to the streets in Zurich to mark May 1, International Workers’ Day. The mood was more tense than in recent years and the police turned out in large numbers.
The majority of the traditional trade unions parade’s participants were peaceful, however around 300 members of the left autonomous scene joined the march, throwing smoke bombs and fire crackers and spraying graffiti. International food chains, banks and police buildings were particular targets. According to police estimates, the damage adds up to tens of thousands of francs.
On Friday night there were already nine arrests made after around 60 people from the left autonomous scene vandalised containers and a car and smashed multiple windows.
Zurich police contained a group of 80 people at Helvetiaplatz in the city on Sunday to prevent an additional demonstration taking place. They closed off streets around the public square and kettled the group in the public space. People were checked by police officers before being pointed away from the site.
Across the country, people took to the streets to demonstrate for a stronger pensions system and more social equality. Paul Rechsteiner, president of the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions and social democrat politician said in speeches in various locations across cantons Bern, Zurich and Zug that pension pay-outs had to be raised from the current 8.4% of the salary to 10%, in line with a people’s initiative that proposes the change.
It was a position that angered the youth section of the centre-right Radical party, who accused the trade unions of abusing the May 1 parades to promote the initiative.
swissinfo.ch and agencies