More than 300 leading French stars and artists have signed an open letter addressed to French President Emmanuel Macron to demand the withdrawal of the unpopular retirement bill that is currently bringing the country to its knees.
The likes of Juliette Binoche, Noémie Merlant (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), Camille Cottin (Stillwater), Laure Calamy (Call My Agent!), Alice Diop, the director of Saint Omer, and Michel Hazanavicius, the director of the Oscar-winning film The Artist, have all signed the letter, which was published in French newspaper Libération ahead of further protests this week.
The fiery demonstrations have rallied more than a million people across the country last week, calling out the increase of the retirement age to 64 from 62, as well as the way the government passed the bill by bypassing a vote using the constitutional clause 49.3.
“It is high time to make our voices heard, because cinema, theatre, culture, even if they sometimes offer dreams and a means of escape, above all speak of our world,” read the open letter to Macron accompanying the petition.
“You have chosen to push through a pension reform that is unfair, inefficient and one that impacts more severely the most vulnerable people and women,” said the letter, which added that the “reform has been rejected by the immense majority of the population” and that the artists are “opposed to this reform and to the method of forcing through 49.3.”
The letter also highlighted the fact that women working in cultural fields are at a disadvantage compared with men because “roles are offered more rarely to women past the age of 50.”
Industrial action and demonstrations, which have brought public services to a standstill (including disruptions to trains and flights) and saw outbreaks of violence across the country as demonstrators clashed with the country’s CRS riot police, are expected to continue in the coming weeks.
Unions have called for another national strike tomorrow (28 March).
Against this backdrop, a state visit by King Charles to France this week, in what would have been his first official overseas trip since becoming king, has been postponed.