French protesters storm stock exchange (VIDEO)
Hundreds of protesters entered the Euronext stock exchange in Paris on Thursday, burning flares and chanting anti-government slogans. The brief occupation of the building is the latest in a series of continuous demonstrations since President Emamnuel Macron hiked the retirement age.
Waving trade union flags, roughly 200-300 protesters stormed the lobby of the exchange, their flares filling the building with red smoke and setting off alarms. "We are here, we are here, even if Macron does not want it we are here,” they chanted, as a small contingent of riot police waited outside.
According to the flags and banners they carried, many of the protesters were rail workers, whose unions earlier called for “expressions of anger” outside railway stations on Thursday.
The disruption at Euronext came less than a week after Macron signed a bill raising the retirement age for most French workers from 62 to 64. The bill was tremendously unpopular, and Macron’s decision to invoke special constitutional powers last month to pass it without a parliamentary vote triggered violent protests across the country.
The president has refused to reconsider the bill, arguing that raising the retirement age is “necessary” to keep France’s social security system afloat.
The unions disagree, arguing that the system could be propped up by corporate tax hikes. "We are told that there is no money to finance pensions,” one trade unionist told Sky News on Thursday, adding that there is “no need to get the money from the pockets of workers, there is some in the pockets of billionaires.”
France’s trade unions have vowed to continue organizing strikes and demonstrations, calling for mass turnout on May 1, a traditional day of left-wing marches and rallies. Macron’s political opponents on both the left and right have promised to keep up their opposition too, with right-wing National Rally leader Marine Le Pen calling the bill “the final break between Macron and the French people,” and veteran left-winger Jean-Luc Melenchon accusing Macron of imposing a “presidential monarchy” on France.