Over the past few weeks, France has erupted in protest over pension reforms that their leader, Emmanuel Macron, claims must happen in order to prevent financial calamity.
Several protests and strikes began in France on January 19, 2023, as labor unions organized against a pension reform bill proposed by the Macron government. The law would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 years old.
One outlet has noted that the strikes have led to “widespread disruption, including garbage piling up in the streets and public transport cancellations.”
In March, Macron forced the bill through the French parliament, which has only poured more gasoline on the fire, fueling increased violence and protests along with more union-backed strikes.
As has happened throughout much of France’s history, the protest has targeted the extremely wealthy, and yesterday a mob attacked the headquarters of one of the great symbols of the rich: Louis Vuitton.
“Scores of French workers protesting against pension reforms flooded into the Paris headquarters of luxury group LVMH (LVMH.PA) on Thursday, calling for the rich to contribute more to financing the state pension,” according to Reuters.
More than 100 protesters were seen milling around the wood-panelled entrance hall of the building on the upscale Avenue Montaigne and climbing an escalator that leads to the upper floors, while others filled the street outside, many waving flags of the railway workers’ union Sud Rail.
‘If you’re looking for money to finance pensions, take it from the pockets of billionaires,’ said Fabien Villedieu, a representative of the Sud Rail union said, stressing that the protest was ‘symbolic and peaceful.’
LVMH has benefited from a post-pandemic rebound in demand for luxury goods, and its shares have risen nearly 26% since the start of this year, cementing its lead as Europe’s most valuable company.”
The Wall Street Journalwrites, “Weekly protests have raged across France for months as Mr. Macron has forged ahead with plans to raise the country’s retirement age to 64 from 62 by 2030. The president further inflamed protesters by using his constitutional powers to ram the legislation through parliament without a vote. France’s constitutional council is due to rule on the legislation on Friday.
The government’s wielding of executive authority has fueled a national debate over whether it is time to curb the powers of the French presidency, one of the most powerful among Western democracies.
Mr. Macron says he is simply trying to save France’s pension system for future generations, warning that government finances can’t keep up with the swelling ranks of French retirees.
Opponents of Mr. Macron, however, say he is acting as a “president of the rich” who is intent on dismantling France’s social state. Since taking office he has overhauled the French economy by stripping away job protections and abolishing the country’s wealth tax. His wife, Brigitte Macron, is well-known for donning Louis Vuitton outfits during state visits and other public appearances.”