Paris Louvre Museum Closed Amid Strikes Over Pension Plans

Updated: 2020-01-17 11:50:15

Paris’s Louvre museum was closed on Friday as dozens of protesters blocked the entrance to denounce the French government’s plans to overhaul the pension system.

The Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit marking the 500th anniversary of the Italian master’s death, which is displayed at the Louvre, was also closed as a result, the museum said.

Several dozen protesters, including some Louvre employees, staged the demonstration after an appeal from several hard-left trade unions against French President Emmanuel Macron’s planned changes to the retirement system, which they said will “lower everyone’s pensions.”

It is the first time since the protest movement began on Dec. 5 that the Louvre and the Leonardo exhibit were fully closed. About 30,000 people visit the museum every day.

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A man wearing a “Guy Fawkes” mask holds flares during a demonstration against the pension reform in Marseille, France, on Jan. 9, 2020. (Christophe Simon/AFP via Getty Images)

Some videos on social media showed angry visitors booing at protesters to express their disappointment.

The weeks of strikes and protests have hobbled public transportation and disrupted schools, hospitals, courthouses, and even opera houses and the Eiffel tower.

While the number of striking workers has diminished since the movement, the country’s trains and the Paris subway were still disrupted Friday.

Opponents of Macron’s proposed overhaul of France’s pension system marched in Paris and other French cities Thursday on what is the 43rd day of strike action that has hobbled trains and public transport.

At the call of trade unions, train and metro workers, teachers, and others took to the French capital’s streets to demand that the government scrap its pension proposals.

Police were out in force but the march across southern Paris was calm, and the number of protesters was down compared to previous marches. The Interior Ministry put the number of marchers in the capital at 23,000 and 187,000 nationally—compared to a count by unions of 250,000.

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Protesters march during a demonstration, in Paris, France, on Jan. 16, 2020. (Kamil Zihnioglu /AP Photo)

Philippe Martinez, the leader of the far-left CGT union, said the determination “is just as big” as at the start of the strikes Dec. 5, 2019.

“It’s never too late to make the government cede,” he said.

The unions widely perceived to be most left-wing said they remained unsatisfied despite the government’s decision last week to suspend a central piece of the proposed reform plan, that of raising the retirement age to qualify for a full pension from 62 to 64. They want the government to scrap other changes they fear would force them to work longer for less money.

Legislation incorporating other parts of the government’s pension reform plan is to be presented at a Cabinet meeting next week. After that, there would be a three-month discussion with unions about financing the new pension system, including potential measures to raise taxes or the retirement age.

Macron says the new system, which aims at unifying 42 state-funded pension regimes, will be fairer and more sustainable.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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