0501 mayday
Men wearing traditional Bavarian dress take part in the Bavarian tradition of raising the maypole as part of May Day celebrations on May 1, 2012 in Perchting, Germany. - 

David Brancaccio: It's International Workers' Day -- organized by unions and left-leaning political parties across the world. Thousands of protesters are out on the streets in places like Greece, France and Russia.

From Paris, the BBC's Hugh Schofield reports that the protests are not just about unions this year.

Hugh Schofield: Trade unions and socialist parties oppose the government cuts and austerity plans that European officials say are needed to get through the debt crisis. In Greece, and also in Spain, protesters are calling for more state spending to boost growth and bring down unemployment.

Haris Manolis is out on the streets in Greece today. He's a striking steel worker.

Haris Manolis: Right now May Day is a symbol for us. It's on our 183rd strike day. One of the main reasons we are striking is that we can't turn our back on a struggle that's been won with blood.

Greece has elections on Sunday, as does France -- where there are in fact three separate rallies in Paris.

In France, I'm the BBC's Hugh Schofield, for Marketplace.