France

Paris Opera dancers put on public show to protest pensions reform

Ballerinas in white tutus danced scenes from Swan Lake on the forecourt of the Palais Garnier in Paris on Tuesday to protest against French President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to scrap their special pension benefits. (video: France24)

About 40 ballerinas in white tutus performed Act 4 of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake on Tuesday evening on the steps of the Palais Garnier opera house, with banners hanging behind them reading “Culture in danger”. They were backed by musicians from the Paris Symphony Orchestra, who, along with performers from the state-run Comedie Francaise theatre, have been on strike since 5 December.Paris Opera dancers have a special pension plan that was introduced in 1698 by King Louis XIV, which allows them to retire on a full pension at the age of 42. The French government is pushing an overhaul of the pension system which would standardise all pensions, and have everyone work until the age of 64. Dancers say it is impossible to continue dancing until 64. • French unions remain defiant in pension standoff Their strike, which is entering its fourth week, and has paralysed the country’s transport network, has forced the Paris Opera to cancel many performances, including Tuesday’s programme. The Opera said it has lost nearly 8 million euros in ticket sales. The government has refused to back down on the pension reform, but it will resume negotiations with trade unions in early January.