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Thursday, February 29, 2024

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France: Unions Storm Streets Demanding Taxing Wealthy Ahead Of Pension Ruling

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On Thursday, union activists stormed the LVMH office in Paris, demanding that the French government abandon plans to make people work longer for their pensions and instead raise taxes on the wealthy.

Since mid-January, there have been 12 days of nationwide rallies, during which time striking employees have also halted garbage pickups in Paris and stopped some of the river traffic on Rhine in eastern France.

“You’re looking for money to finance pensions? Take it from the pockets of billionaires,” remarked Sud Rail union leader Fabien Villedieu as flares showered the LVMH headquarters with red smoke. The demonstrators then quietly dispersed.

A day before the Constitutional Council’s decision on the constitutionality of the measure, trade unions recommended a show of force in the streets.

According to government statistics, 380,000 protesters participated nationwide on Thursday. 42,000 of those people were present during the protest in Paris.

These numbers decreased from April 6, when 570,000 people protested throughout France, including 57,000 at last week’s march in Paris.

While there were several incidents during the protests on Thursday, including one in central Paris where protestors wearing all black threw objects at the police, who fired tear gas in return, this was not nearly as violent as some of the demonstrations last month.

According to the police department, ten police officers were hurt on Thursday.

The administration will be able to publish the law if the Council approves it, probably with certain restrictions. They will be hoping that this would finally put an end to the protests, which have become a focal point for popular resentment towards President Emmanuel Macron.

However, if the Council given the go-ahead, protesters vowed to continue their struggle.

At the rally in Paris, teacher Kathy Brochard, 50, stated, “We don’t want to work until 64.” The protesters want the bill to be repealed or put to a vote.

Francis Bourget, 52, a postal service employee, said at the march in Paris, “We still hope that, at some point, someone in high places will decide to abandon this law, sit around a table and look at pension funding differently.”

After the Council decides to work on other options, Macron has stated that he will schedule a meeting with the unions. Union leaders claim that this initiative won’t last long if Macron is not prepared to discuss repealing the pension law.

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