All Quiet on The French front????

Protesters storm Paris Euronext building in anger over pension law

PARIS, April 20 (Reuters) – A group of protesters briefly invaded offices of stockmarket operator Euronext in Paris’ La Defense business district on Thursday, saying big companies must pay up to finance pensions, as part of wider protests against a rise in the retirement age.

“We are told that there is no money to finance pensions,” said Sud-Rail unionist Fabien Villedieu. But there is “no need to get the money from the pockets of workers, there is some in the pockets of billionaires.”

Waving union flags, the group of a few hundred protesters occupied Euronext’s lobby, engulfed in red smoke from flares, and chanted words popular with pension protesters: “We are here, we are here, even if Macron does not want it we are here.”

They also shouted: “Macron resign!”

Earlier this month, similar scenes occurred at Blackrock’s Paris offices.

At the weekend, Macron signed into law the rise in the retirement age which means citizens must work two years longer, to 64, before receiving their state pension.

That was after three months of protests that brought huge crowds onto the streets and at times turned violent. Opinion polls show a vast majority of voters oppose the pension reform.

Macron and his government say they want to move on and work on other measures to do with working conditions, law and order, education and health issues.

But the protesters in La Defense on Thursday, as well as those who heckled Macron during a visit to France’s eastern Alsace region on Wednesday, made clear many were not ready to move on.

“We’ll continue until the (pension law’s) withdrawal,” protesters shouted in La Defense’s central square, 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, protesters held a few hundred meters away by police also chanted against the pension reform.

“There is a bit of everything,” Macron said in the schoolyard, shrugging off the protests. “There are people who are happy, and people who are not happy.”

Reporting by Noemie Olive, writing by Tassilo Hummel, editing by Ingrid Melander