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Traditions  Marches and speeches mark Labour Day

Labour Day demonstration in Basel

Demonstrators in the city of Basel called for equal pay for men and women in Switzerland.

(Keystone)

Thousands of people have taken part in events organised by trade unions to mark Labour Day in Switzerland. 

Speakers called for higher salaries, pension benefits and increased efforts to achieve equal pay between men and women, as well as a more environmentally-friendly policy and a fairer society. 

Big rallies and marches took place in major cities, notably Zurich, Geneva, Basel and the capital, Bern, to celebrate May 1. 

Police said the festivities in Zurich, which drew 16,000 people, were marred by extremists lighting flares and damaging buildings and vehicles. 

Overall, more than 50 events are scheduled across the country on Wednesday, according to the Trade Union Federationexternal link

Traditionally trade union leaders, left-wing politicians and activists participate in Labour Day rallies. 

Interior Minister Alain Berset, a member of Social Democratic Party, addressed a meeting in the town of Solothurn, while his party colleague, Transport Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, paid a visit to a child care centre in Fribourg. 

Labour Day is only a public holiday in certain regions of Switzerland as the 26 cantons have widespread autonomy from the national authorities. 

swissinfo.ch with SDA-ATS; ug

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