In a bid to use his fame for something meaningful, Alain Robert, the daredevil urban climber who has been pegged as France’s own Spiderman, decided to scale the 48-story Tour Total building located in Paris’s La Defense business district.
He did this in order to show his support for the protesters who are protesting against pension reforms. The nationwide strikes have been going on for more than 40 days and show no signs of abating.
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Robert scaled the skyscraper on January 13 as a show of solidarity for workers who are on strike because of President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform plans.
The 57-year-old Robert could be seen on top of the 187-meter high tower with both arms aloft.
Speaking to Reuters, Robert said, “I am trying to use my fame for something I find meaningful.” He added that the pension reform plans had left him “deeply concerned.”
It wasn’t the first time he had climbed the Total tower. In fact, this latest ascent was his ninth time for that building. He has also climbed more than 100 structures that include the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco as well as the world’s tallest building, the Burj al Khalifa in Dubai.
These climbs are often performed without permission and Robert has been arrested multiple times because of it. He climbs sans harness and uses his bare hands and a pair of climbing shoes. He also carries a bag of powdered chalk to absorb the sweat.
The strikes were driven by Macron’s efforts to streamline the pension system in order to avoid a looming 17 billion euro pension deficit. However, the unions have pushed back with strikes and street protests.
The strikes have produced some concessions. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on January 11 that they would abandon plans to increase the official age for a full pension to 64 from the current 62. Moderate trade unions such as the CFDT welcomed the move.
However, the hardline unions such as CGT, FO, and Solidaires stood their ground and called for the strikes and protests to continue.
But the government is also standing its ground on the overall plan which involves a universal scheme that will rationalize the 42 current pension schemes into one points-based system that they claim will be more transparent and fairer.