Strikes across France over pension reform disrupt transport & energy production

Workers in many French cities took to the streets Thursday to reject proposed pension changes that would push back the retirement age.

Demonstrations gathered thousands of people in the cities of Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, Nantes, Lyon, and more. The strikes have severely disrupted transport, schools, and other public services across the country.

Under the plans, French workers will have to work longer before receiving a pension under the new rules — with the nominal retirement age rising from 62 to 64. In a country with an aging population and growing life expectancy where everyone receives a state pension, Macron’s government says the reform is the only way to keep the system solvent.

Unions argue the pension overhaul threatens hard-fought rights, and propose a tax on the wealthy or more payroll contributions from employers to finance the pension system. Polls suggest most French people also oppose the reform.

More than 200 rallies are expected around France on Thursday, including a large one in Paris involving all of France’s major unions.

Laurent Berger, head of the CFDT union, called the government's plans an “unfair” reform on BFMTV and called on workers to “peacefully come (to the streets) to say they disagree.”

Police unions opposed to the retirement reform are also taking part, while those who are on duty are bracing for potential violence if extremist groups join the demonstrations.

A majority of trains around France are cancelled, including some international connections, according to the country's rail authority SNCF.

For more watch Euronews' report in the video above.