'French Spider-Man' scales Total tower in support of pension strikes

Alain Robert has climbed Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

French urban climber Alain Robert, well known as "Spiderman", climbs up the Total tower in the Paris business district of La Defense, Monday, Jan 13, 2020, in support of the transport strikes. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Alain Robert, the free climber dubbed the “French Spider-Man”, on Monday scaled the Tour Total, a 48-storey skyscraper in Paris, to demonstrate support for workers striking against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform plans.

Mr Robert, 57, stood with both arms aloft after reaching the summit of the 187-metre high tower, which stands in the French capital’s business district, La Defense.

“I am trying to use my fame for something I find meaningful,” Mr Robert told Reuters, and said he was himself “deeply concerned” by the pension reform plans.

“Sponsors only give me money if I climb,” he said.

France has been dogged by strikes and street protests for more than a month as unions push back against Mr Macron’s drive to streamline the pension system and avert a looming €17 billion pension deficit.

Mr Macron’s government said on Saturday it was willing to withdraw a proposal to raise the retirement age to break the deadlock with unions.

Mr Robert has climbed more than 100 structures, including Dubai’s Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building – and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Monday’s ascent was the ninth time Mr Robert had climbed the Total tower.

Mr Robert often climbs without permission and has been arrested on numerous occasions. He climbs without a harness, using only his bare hands, a pair of climbing shoes and a bag of powdered chalk with which to wipe off sweat.