- Title: Strike up the band: Paris orchestra wails at pension reform plans
- Date: 31st December 2019
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (French) BASTILLE OPERA ORCHESTRA SPOKESMAN AND REPRESENTATIVE OF FRENCH UNION FORCE OUVRIERE, CHRISTOPHE GRINDEL, SAYING: "We know well that musicians and artists have spent their entire lives performing in shows that last for three to four hours each, that they work up to six nights a week without overtime pay or for three straight weeks without any guaranteed weekend. Some seasons, we only have three free weekends in a year. We work Sundays, on holidays, on New Year's Eve, there's no overtime for that. So the fatigue at 60 or 62 years old really becomes incompatible with the level of quality and excellence that are required here all year long." STATUE AT PLACE DE LA BASTILLE SQUARE (SOUNDBITE) (French) BASTILLE OPERA ORCHESTRA SPOKESMAN AND REPRESENTATIVE OF FRENCH UNION FORCE OUVRIERE, CHRISTOPHE GRINDEL, SAYING: "We would like to negotiate and participate in discussions, but not with the double-edged sword of a reform that would probably be passed in February. We wish that this reform, if it's not withdrawn, is postponed so we could at least have time to negotiate seriously based on numbers instead of just informal conversations with the ministries."
- Embargoed: 14th January 2020 14:51
- Keywords: Bastille Opera France protests Paris orchestra pension reform
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Lawmaking,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA004BCB3LTZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The French capital's Opera Bastille has been silent for nearly a month because its orchestra is on strike, but on Tuesday (December 31) the musicians performed on the steps of the opera house to bring attention to their anger at planned pension reforms.
The orchestra's string section, out on strike as part of a nationwide protest against the pension plans, performed pieces including Sergei Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet Suite next to a banner reading "Paris Opera on strike".
The national strike action has crippled public transport, and curtailed lessons in state schools, casting a pall over the holiday period for many French people.
Explaining the thinking behind the outdoor concert, Christophe Grindel, a union representative who works for the opera, said: "It's our chance to bring in a little touch of positivity, and to show our job is to play music."
"We're really unhappy to be on strike for nearly a month and to have cancelled 45 shows."
He said he wanted the government to sit down with unions and reconsider.
French President Emmanuel Macron wants to replace France's tangle of multiple state pension systems with a single, points-based mechanism. He says that would be fairer and more financially sustainable.
Unions say the plan would force staff at some state-owned enterprises, who enjoy special privileges, to work longer or else put up with smaller pensions.
Ballerinas in white tutus danced scenes from Swan Lake on the forecourt of the Paris Opera last week to protest against Macron's plans.
(Production: Thierry Chiarello, Ardee Napolitano)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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