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Dancing, singing and disrobing: France's unusual pension reform protests

Striking ballerinas perform a free public show in Paris on December 24, 2019.
Striking ballerinas perform a free public show in Paris on December 24, 2019. © FRANCE 24

From dancing ballerinas to disrobing lawyers, French workers protesting the current pension reforms and other grievances have been finding innovative and eye-catching ways to show their discontent.

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France has been hit by strikes and protests for the past six weeks, driven by anger over government plans to streamline the country’s complex pension system. But numbers at demonstrations have been dwindling in recent days amid signs the movement is running out of steam.

Some, however, have turned to alternative forms of protest to express their discontent at the reforms and other grievances in often eye-catching and innovative ways.

The trend began on December 24 last year when striking ballet dancers performed a free show on the steps of the famed Palais Garnier opera house in Paris. A week later, members of the Paris Opera orchestra followed suit with their own public performance.

Others have been using the tools of their trades to get their point across, including lawyers symbolically ditching their robes at the feet of the country’s justice minister, doctors discarding their white coats and teachers jettisoning their textbooks.

Further innovative forms of protest have seen firefighters turn their hoses on government buildings, flashmob dance routines spring up and striking forensics police staging grisly crime scenes.

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