On Jan. 19, a series of general strikes, protests and demonstrations began in France over the French government’s pension reform bill that would raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 years old.
France, especially Paris, is an important region for the fashion industry. It serves as the headquarters for many major luxury fashion and beauty companies, and hosts Paris Fashion Week and Paris Couture Fashion Week.
The retirement bill that sparked the protests was proposed under Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, and was pushed through earlier in March.
Monday morning, protesters blocked the entrance to Paris’ famed Louvre Museum, sparking the ire of visitors and patrons. The demonstrations came one day ahead of the 10th round of nationwide strikes over the change in the pension plan.
King Charles, who had a trip to Paris and Bordeaux planned from March 26 to 29, postponed his visit.
Tear gas and water has been fired at protesters, and police have been injured.
Despite the protests and opposition of French citizens, French President Emmanuel Macron has remained steadfast in the French government’s move to raise the retirement age. “This reform isn’t a luxury, it’s not a pleasure, it’s a necessity,” he said in an interview with TF1 and France 2.
Opponents argue that after age 55, many French workers are shown the door because they are seen as over-experienced and too expensive to keep. Polls by the Elabe Institute for BFMTV show 66 percent of French citizens oppose raising the retirement age and have concerns about workplace ageism. According to Euronews, the average age of retirement is 64.3 for men and 63.5 for women.
During a press conference, Macron said he had hoped to engage with the unions, but said they have failed to negotiate over reforms. He acknowledged the legitimacy of protests but has condemned protests that have led to disruption and violence.
The government has also used constitutional power to push through reforms rather than a vote in the National Assembly. On Thursday, more than 1 million people demonstrated their opposition to pension reform, with violence erupting in some places and unions continued calling for nationwide strikes. More than 450 protesters were arrested in Paris and beyond, as more than 300 nationwide demonstrations drew protesters, according to the Guardian.
After weeks of a strike by Paris garbage collectors, more than 10,000 metric tons of trash have built up in the city, according to Le Monde.
The increase in retirement age is meant to reflect a difference in life expectancy for various generations. When most of France’s current retirees entered the workforce in the 1980s, the average life expectancy was 74. Now the average life expectancy in France is 82.
The news has caught worldwide attention. WWD has rounded up what people are searching for online around the Paris protests and garbage strike.
Place de la Concorde and Avenue des Champs-Élysées
Police have banned protests on Place de la Concorde, one of France’s major public squares, and Champs-Élysées, which is home to stores such as Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss and Longchamp. It’s been a breakout search this week since gatherings and demonstrations were announced as prohibited near parliament.
Paris Garbage Collectors Strike
People are searching for more information about the Paris garbage collectors strike, too, after viral videos circulated of the city piled up with garbage. The garbage has become a symbol for the protests, and Paris’ socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo has made it clear she supports the strikers.
‘Paris Saccagé’ by Pierre Perret
French singer Pierre Perret has released a song titled “Paris Saccagé” as a social commentary on the recent protests. The title translates to “Paris ransack.” The video already had more than 1.4 million views on YouTube within a week of its debut.
On Wednesday, Macron made a live TV appearance to defend his plan to raise the retirement age, making it clear he wouldn’t waver in its necessity. Macron has been trying to change France’s pension plan approach since his first term, but was dissuaded after protests at the time. Rather than trying to overhaul and merge the country’s 42 separate pension plans, he argued that people should work for two more years to make the system sustainable in the long term.