Demonstrators disrupt French bank
PARIS, April 17 (Reuters) – Striking bank workers disrupted the 2007 results presentation of venerable French state bank Caisse des Depots (CDC) on Thursday in a protest for better pay.
About 100 chanting demonstrators prevented people from entering the bank’s annual results conference in Paris.
They had earlier forced the bank to change the venue for its conference, which was originally due to have been held at the Caisse des Depot’s ornate Left Bank headquarters.
The CDC was founded in 1816 to restore state finances left in disarray by Napoleon. It now plays a major role in the French economy by managing state pensions and financing housing for those on low incomes.
Its net profit rose to 2.488 billion euros ($3.94 billion) in 2007 from 1.694 billion a year earlier. The CDC said it had no direct exposure to the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis.
However, the demonstrators said the profits meant they were entitled to a better salary and a bonus of 3,000 euros each.
“Give us a thousand, two thousand, three thousand euros,” the demonstrators sang in the style of a soccer chant.
There was some jostling and shouting as CDC executives attempted to leave the building after the results conference.
The demonstration comes amid a growing wave of discontent with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose plans to boost the spending power of French consumers have been hit by a global economic slowdown and rising inflation.
French high-school students have also held nationwide demonstrations to protest against cuts in the education system, and government members have expressed fears that the protests could grow ahead of the 40th anniversary of the May 1968 student riots in France.
The CDC owns stakes in many French blue-chip companies and is often used by the government to protect French groups from hostile overseas predators.
Companies in which the CDC holds stakes include the bank Societe Generale, aerospace group EADS and construction company Eiffage.