In France thousands took the streets in subdued May Day marches after the recent show of solidarity against the first job contract.
In the capital, Paris, trade and student unions rallied under the same banner but in many other cities across the country, there were separate protests as various groups sought to draw attention to different causes.
Most demonstrations urged the government to take measures to boost job security and improve people’s quality of life.
The mayor of Paris, Betrand Delanoe, joined hundreds who marched to lay a wreath at the spot where young Morrocan Brahim Bouarram died in 1995 after being thrown into the river Seine in a racist attack by National Front supporters.
Elsewhere, the National Front leader, Jean Marie Le-Pen, used his traditional May Day address to renew his appeal for a “patriotic union” ahead of next year’s Presidential and legislative elections.
Police say some 3,000 people took part in his rally, a significant drop compared to the estimated 12,000 who followed his parade last year.