Protesters in France storm Euronext building in Paris over pension law
Protesters in France have stormed the building of stock market operator Euronext in Paris over President Emmanuel Macron's widely unpopular pension reform plan, days after he signed the controversial bill into law.
Hundreds of protesters on Thursday stormed the entrance hall of stock exchange operator Euronext NV’s offices in the La Defense business district outside Paris and set off red flares inside the building before being evacuated by French police.
They say large companies like Euronext, which runs stock markets across Europe, must finance pensions.
"We are told that there is no money to finance pensions," but there is "no need to get the money from the pockets of workers, there is some in the pockets of billionaires," said Sud-Rail unionist Fabien Villedieu.
The controversial bill aimed at raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 has sparked numerous violent protest rallies and strikes across the country for the past several months. Macron, however, eventually signed it into law on Saturday.
Waving union flags, the storming group on Thursday 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!"
The nationwide protest movement and a populist rebuke of France’s establishment created a persisting standoff between protesters and the police forces, with reports of police brutality.
Protests linger even after the contested plan was enacted, and political opponents and trade unions have urged protesters to maintain their campaign against the pension reform law and called for a new day of mass protest on May 1.
"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".
The French president, whose approval ratings are near their lowest levels on record, has been facing the biggest domestic challenge of his second term over the overhaul.
Separately on Thursday, Macron himself faced protests and was loudly booed by angry demonstrators as he appeared before crowds of people during his second public outing since signing the bill into law.
"There is a bit of everything," Macron said as he was visiting a school in the southern French town of Ganges, shrugging off the protests. "There are people who are happy, and people who are not happy."
Polls have consistently recorded a majority of French opposed to the reform, which the government rammed through parliament using a controversial mechanism to avoid a vote.
Due to be implemented on September 1, the new law will push up the age for drawing a state pension from the current 62 to 64.