French President Emmanuel Macron appeared in public for the first time on Wednesday since signing the controversial law that raises the retirement age from 62 to 64. He visited Matisse, a factory in Muttersholtz in French Alsace that specializes in wood construction. There he was met by angry protesters.
Matisse will be responsible for designing buildings for the 2024 Olympics. A group of protesters gathered in front of the factory and greeted Macron with shouts, banners, music and banging pots.
The French president dismissed their protest action, saying, “The pans will not help France progress.” Society cannot just listen to those who “make the most noise,” Macron said, in an attempt to highlight the positive aspects of France’s labor law.
While visiting the factory, the electricity also temporarily went out. The hardline CGT French trade union said it was responsible for the blackout. A CGT spokesperson said in response: “King Macron stacks pots and pans and despises the social movement, so Social Democracy will repeat it and we will be everywhere until France is free of this reform.”
Then Macron moved to the town of Celeste. An angry mob was waiting for him in the town hall, but that did not prevent him from mingling with the people. “I will not avoid contact because there are people who are not happy. I have been through worse, but I am not naive,” Macron said.
“Everyone should be able to express themselves freely, but the state must also move forward,” said the president, who continued to greet those present and answer their questions for several minutes despite the growing protests.
The demonstrators are calling for Macron’s resignation, accusing him of corruption. One of the men said: “One day you will fall, you will see.”
The president responded to a young protester’s concerns: “I’m not asking people to make tough decisions for me.” “We will continue to improve working conditions.”
Those present continued to chant “Macron resign” until the head of state left the city hall.
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