Protesters Storm Paris Euronext Building Over Pension Reform

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
April 20, 2023Franceshare
Protesters Storm Paris Euronext Building Over Pension Reform
Union members and protesters enter the entrance hall at the headquarters of the Pan-European stock exchange Euronext during a protest action against unpopular pension reforms, in the La Defense district of Paris, France on April 20, 2023. (Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP via Getty Images)

A group of protesters briefly invaded stock market operator Euronext’s offices in the La Defense business district of Paris on Thursday, as protests against French President Macron’s pension reforms continue.

The protesters said that big companies should pay to finance pensions. “We are told that there is no money to finance pensions,” said SUD-Rail unionist, Fabien Villedieu. There is “no need to get the money from the pockets of workers,” he said, as “there is some in the pockets of billionaires.”

Waving union flags, the group of a few hundred protesters occupied the Euronext building’s lobby. The area was engulfed in red smoke from flares, and the protesters chanted slogans popular during the anti-pension reform protests: “We are here, we are here, even if Macron does not want it, we are here.”

They also shouted: “Macron resign!”

On April 6, similar scenes occurred at the Paris offices of Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager.

On Monday, Macron addressed the nation in a public TV broadcast after signing his unpopular pension reform into law over the weekend. He explained that the decision to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 was necessary to prevent future deficits spinning out of control.

Macron signed the pension reform into law despite three months of union strikes and protests that brought millions of people onto the streets.

In his public broadcast, the French president promised “concrete measures” to better education, improve working conditions, provide more career opportunities, and increase wages.

Macron also invited the unions and employer organizations to bring ideas to the table to invigorate the French economy.

“We have ahead of us 100 days of appeasement, unity, ambition, and action for France,” he said.

But the protesters in La Defense made clear that they were not ready to move on.

“We’ll continue until the withdrawal (of the pension law),” protesters shouted, standing by a banner that read: “No to the pension reform.”

Macron himself faced protests on Thursday during his second public outing since signing the bill into law.

While he was visiting a school in the southern French town of Ganges, smiling and taking selfies with pupils and sympathizers, police held back protesters a few hundred meters away as they demonstrated against the reforms.

“There is a bit of everything,” Macron said in the schoolyard, as he attempted to play down the protests. “There are people who are happy, and people who are not happy.”

The unhappiness, however, runs deep. According to a Fiducial-Odoxa public safety poll published in February, 57 percent of French respondents believe it is possible some kind of insurrection could occur over the pension reform.

It is the second time in 13 years that the official retirement age has been raised in France.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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