Hundreds of French workers have stormed the Paris headquarters of luxury group LVMH as France faced another day engulfed in riots over President Emmanuel Macron’s hated pension reforms.
Protesters called for the rich to contribute more to financing the state pension, just days after LVMH chief Bernard Arnault dethroned Elon Musk as the richest man in the world with his net worth growing more than £40bn ($50bn) to £168bn ($211bn).
The French company, which owns Louis Vuitton, Dior and Tiffany & Co, has benefited from a post-pandemic rebound in demand for luxury goods, and its shares have risen nearly 26 per cent since the start of this year, cementing its lead as Europe’s most valuable company.
More than 100 protesters congregated at the wood-panelled entrance hall of the building on the exclusive Avenue Montaigne before climbing an escalator to the upper floors, while others filled the street waving flags of the railway workers’ union Sud Rail.
Footage showed protesters storming the LVMH headquarters, armed with red flares and flags, as they made their way through the big glass doors and filled out the building.
Hundreds of French workers have stormed the Paris headquarters of luxury group LVMH
More than 100 protesters congregated at the wood-panelled entrance hall of the building on the exclusive Avenue Montaigne
Footage posted on social media showed protesters storming the LVMH headquarters, armed with red flares and flags
It comes just days after LVMH chief Bernard Arnault (pictured) dethroned Elon Musk as the richest man in the world
France faced another day engulfed in riots over President Emmanuel Macron’s hated pension reforms
‘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.’
Billionaire Bernard Arnault has been a frequent target in slogans and chants during protests in France thanks in part to his firm’s post-pandemic profits.
He lives in a stunning 150-year-old castle in northwest Saint-Emilion in Bordeaux, France, that has belonged to the billionaire’s family since 1998, while he also owns a stunning home in the ultra-prestigious Les Parcs de Saint-Tropez enclave.
The demonstration comes after LVMH also posted a 17 per cent jump in sales to £18.5billion for three months to the end of March – more than double the 8 per cent rise in revenues expected by analysts.
The 12th day of protests adds to the ongoing strikes and marches which have gripped Paris since mid-January in response to Emmanuel Macron’s plans to raise the legal retirement age without a parliamentary vote.
It also comes on France’s first lady Brigitte Macron’s 70th birthday – a day which will be celebrated under ‘tight security’.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of France yet again as trade unions urged a show of force on the streets a day before the Constitutional Council’s ruling on the legality of the bill that would raise the retirement age by two years to 64.
The protest march in Paris was closing in on the Constitutional Council’s headquarters, opposite the Louvre museum in central Paris, which was protected by a phalanx of anti-riot police in full body armour brandishing shields.
The government says it is necessary to raise the retirement age for most workers to balance the pension budget in years to come.
However, the passionate unions, who show no sign of backing down, say the money can be found elsewhere.
Earlier today, firefighters were seen tackling a white Mercedes on fire in the middle of Rennes – the capital city of Brittany, northwest France.
Thousands of protesters gathered on the streets of France ahead of tomorrow’s ruling over whether Mr Macron’s decision to push his retirement plans through without a parliamentary vote was legal. Pictured: Protesters in Bordeaux
Passionate unions, who show no sign of backing down, say the money can be found in other ways than raising the pension age. Pictured: Riot police clear protesters away in Paris
French gendarmes have been mobilised in their thousands to deal with the continuous strikes
A white Mercedes was set ablaze during a demonstration in Rennes, northwestern France, today
Firefighters had to tackle the ablaze Mercedes as thick flumes of smoke rose into the air
The damaged facade of a Lidl supermarket, is defaced with graffiti which reads ‘Lidl, too expensive’ during a demonstration in Rennes
Protests today come on France’s first lady Brigitte Macron’s 70th birthday – a day which will be celebrated under ‘tight security’
Today’s riots were the 12th day of demonstrations since mid-January as workers continue to protest
Thick plumes of smoke were seen rising into the air as roaring flames ripped through the luxury car.
Meanwhile, in Paris, staggering photos showed riot police chasing protesters through the streets on another day in which the capital was brought to a standstill.
Now’s not the time to give up, because that’s what Macron is expecting,’ said Johan Chivert, a student in the Creuse region in central France.
‘We have to keep going and show the people are against this reform.’
Just a fortnight ago, French officials braced themselves for the biggest security operation in the country’s recent history when more than a million people took part in marches.
Gérald Darmanin, the country’s Interior Minister, said that the country was set for ‘fire and blood’ as he mobilised tens of thousands of police.
While the number of people taking to the streets has fallen, there are still hundreds of thousands still lining the streets.
Shocking footage from Paris has uncovered widespread violence, with uncollected garbage set on fire and tear gas creating a constant fog in the Parisian air.
Tomorrow, France’s Constitutional Council will rule on whether Mr Macron’s decision to push his retirement plans through without a parliamentary vote was legal.
Riot police block the road near the Paris city hall during a demonstration today in the French capital
Tear gas has been heavily prevalent across the weeks of protests in France over pension reforms
There were shocking scenes in Nantes, western France, where protesters set a sofa alight next to uncollected garbage
Tomorrow, France’s Constitutional Council will rule on whether Mr Macron’s decision to push his retirement plans through without a parliamentary vote was legal
A man dressed as a clown wears a sign around his neck that translates as ‘I am in the government’
A protester breaks glass at a tram station in Strasbourg, northeastern France, as protests grip the country again
If the court issues a green light – as ministers are privately confident it will – Macron hopes to sign the changes into law immediately, clearing the way for them to enter into force before the end of 2023.
Having repeatedly snubbed calls for talks with union leaders in recent weeks, the 45-year-old leader said he would invite labour representatives for discussions once the court decision was published.
‘The decision from the constitutional court on Friday will bring an end to the democratic and constitutional procedures,’ Macron told reporters on a trip to the Netherlands on Wednesday, adding that public debate ‘will continue, for sure’.
Paris police have banned any demonstration around the Constitutional Council until Saturday morning.
With strike momentum has been waning on what was the 12th day of action, most trains were running today at state rail operator SNCF and the Paris public transport provider RATP, past bastions of strike participation.
Paris police have banned any demonstration around the Constitutional Council until Saturday morning. Pictured: Riot police in Paris today walking past a protester with a sign that reads: ‘Macron imposes, we explode’
Members of the BRAV-M, the motorised violent action repression police Brigades, take position in front of the BHV Marais amid clashes with protesters
If the court issues a green light – as ministers are privately confident it will – Macron hopes to sign the changes into law immediately
Tear gas smothers protesters who use umbrellas and masks to cover themselves from the smoke
But the movement is ‘far from over’, said the head of the CFDT union Laurent Berger as the demonstration got under way in Paris, vowing major protests on the May 1 labour day.
The hard-left CGT union has called for new strikes by refinery workers and rubbish collectors, whose walkout left the streets of Paris heaving with rubbish for three weeks in March.
Mr Macron was interrupted and heckled by protesters on Tuesday as he delivered a keynote speech about European sovereignty in The Hague during a state visit to the Netherlands.
Meanwhile yesterday, another man was heard shouting ‘We are here! We are here!’ as he charged towards the French president before being tackled to the ground at the University of Amsterdam.