Thousands march on May Day, demand better working conditions

Thousands of workers march towards the Presidential Palace in Manila to pay tribute to workers in celebration of International Labor Day Wednesday, Ma

Thousands of workers march towards the Presidential Palace in Manila to pay tribute to workers in celebration of International Labor Day Wednesday, Ma

Myanmar workers shout slogan during a marching ceremony Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Yangon, Myanmar. Hundreds most of factory workers marched Wednesday

Myanmar workers shout slogan during a marching ceremony Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Yangon, Myanmar. Hundreds most of factory workers marched Wednesday

Malaysian workers stage a rally marking May Day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Hundreds of workers demand raise of basic salary an

Malaysian workers stage a rally marking May Day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Hundreds of workers demand raise of basic salary an

Malaysian workers stage a rally marking May Day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Hundreds of workers demand raise of basic salary an

Malaysian workers stage a rally marking May Day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Hundreds of workers demand raise of basic salary an

Malaysian workers stage a rally marking May Day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Hundreds of workers demand raise of basic salary an

Malaysian workers stage a rally marking May Day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Hundreds of workers demand raise of basic salary an

A man holds a sign during a May Day rally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Hundreds of workers demand raise of basic salary and endi

A man holds a sign during a May Day rally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Hundreds of workers demand raise of basic salary and endi

Myanmar labors holding placards read, "to amend the law of leaves and holidays immediately, to appear the labor court," shout slogans during a marchin

Myanmar labors holding placards read, "to amend the law of leaves and holidays immediately, to appear the labor court," shout slogans during a marchin

Myanmar workers holding a placard read, "Government to sign 98 facts of ILO law," shout slogans during a marching ceremony Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in

Myanmar workers holding a placard read, "Government to sign 98 facts of ILO law," shout slogans during a marching ceremony Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in

Myanmar workers march during a ceremony Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Yangon, Myanmar. Hundreds most of factory workers marched Wednesday to mark Interna

Myanmar workers march during a ceremony Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Yangon, Myanmar. Hundreds most of factory workers marched Wednesday to mark Interna

Myanmar workers shout slogan during a marching ceremony Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Yangon, Myanmar. Hundreds most of factory workers marched Wednesday

Myanmar workers shout slogan during a marching ceremony Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Yangon, Myanmar. Hundreds most of factory workers marched Wednesday

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith delivers a speech to mark May Day at Tonle Sap river bank in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, We

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith delivers a speech to mark May Day at Tonle Sap river bank in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, We

Cambodian workers march as they gather to mark May Day at Wat Phnom, center of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Some hundreds of workers

Cambodian workers march as they gather to mark May Day at Wat Phnom, center of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Some hundreds of workers

Cambodian workers stage a rally marking May Day at Tonle Sap river bank, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Some hundreds of workers sta

Cambodian workers stage a rally marking May Day at Tonle Sap river bank, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Some hundreds of workers sta

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith, center, delivers a speech as Ath Thun, right, president of the Coalition of Cambodian

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith, center, delivers a speech as Ath Thun, right, president of the Coalition of Cambodian

Cambodian workers gather to mark May Day at Tonle Sap river bank, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Some hundreds of workers staged a r

Cambodian workers gather to mark May Day at Tonle Sap river bank, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Some hundreds of workers staged a r

Cambodian workers march as they a gather to mark May Day near Wat Phnom, center of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Some hundreds of work

Cambodian workers march as they a gather to mark May Day near Wat Phnom, center of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Some hundreds of work

Protesters, mostly workers, shout slogans as they gather for a rally prior to marching towards the Presidential Palace in Manila to pay tribute to wor

Protesters, mostly workers, shout slogans as they gather for a rally prior to marching towards the Presidential Palace in Manila to pay tribute to wor

Protesters, mostly workers, gather for a rally prior to marching towards the Presidential Palace in Manila to pay tribute to workers in celebration of

Protesters, mostly workers, gather for a rally prior to marching towards the Presidential Palace in Manila to pay tribute to workers in celebration of

Protesters, mostly workers, gather for a rally prior to marching towards the Presidential Palace in Manila to pay tribute to workers in celebration of

Protesters, mostly workers, gather for a rally prior to marching towards the Presidential Palace in Manila to pay tribute to workers in celebration of

Thousands of workers march towards the Presidential Palace in Manila to pay tribute to workers in celebration of International Labor Day Wednesday, Ma

Thousands of workers march towards the Presidential Palace in Manila to pay tribute to workers in celebration of International Labor Day Wednesday, Ma

Protesters, mostly workers, gather for a rally prior to marching towards the Presidential Palace in Manila to pay tribute to workers in celebration of

Protesters, mostly workers, gather for a rally prior to marching towards the Presidential Palace in Manila to pay tribute to workers in celebration of

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Thousands of trade union members and activists are marking May Day by marching through Asia's capitals and demanding better working conditions and expanding labor rights.

A South Korean major umbrella trade union issued a joint statement with a North Korean workers' organization calling for the Koreas to push ahead with engagement commitments made during a series of inter-Korean summits last year.

Many of the plans agreed between the Koreas, including joint economic projects, have been held back by a lack of progress in nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.

May Day rallies are also being held in the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar and elsewhere in Asia.

In Sri Lanka, major political parties called off traditional May Day rallies due to security concerns following the Easter bombings that killed 253 people and were claimed by militants linked to the Islamic State group.

French authorities announced tight security measures for May Day demonstrations, with the interior minister saying there was a risk that "radical activists" could join anti-government yellow vest protesters and union workers in the streets of Paris and across the country. More than 7,400 police will be deployed, aided by drones to give them an overview of the protests and a quicker way to head off potential violence.

Wearing headbands and swinging fists, the protesters in Seoul rallied in streets near City Hall, marching under banners denouncing deteriorating working conditions and equal treatment and pay for non-regular workers.

The protesters also called for the government to ratify key International Labor Organization conventions that would strengthen South Korean workers' rights for organization and collective bargaining, and take firmer steps toward reforming "chaebol," or huge family-owned conglomerates that dominate South Korea's economy and are often accused of corruption and monopolistic behaviors.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, which organized the protests, said more than 25,000 demonstrators turned out for Wednesday's marches in Seoul, which proceeded peacefully with no immediate reports of injuries or major clashes. Police didn't immediately provide a crowd estimate. May Day rallies were also held in other major cities, including Busan, Gwangju and Daejeon.

Liberal President Moon Jae-in, who won office in May 2017 following the ouster of his conservative predecessor over a corruption scandal, had pushed a labor-friendly agenda that promised to expand workers' rights, reduce the country's notoriously long working hours and address the problems of inequality by elevating minimum wages and reining in the excesses of chaebol.

However, critics say a decaying job market and bad economy, which unexpectedly shrank 0.3% during the last quarter due to sluggish investment, has softened the government's approach on labor rights and corporate reform.

South Korean workers are known for their vibrant protest culture, which contributed to the popular uprising that drove the country's transition from an anti-communist military dictatorship to a Western-style democracy in the late 1980s. Unlike May Day rallies in the West, South Korean protests mostly lack socialist slogans, which are rarely expressed in a country that remains highly sensitive about North Korea.