Parisians march over France's pension reform plans

STORY: Huge crowds marched through cities across France to denounce a reform that raises the retirement age by two years to 64 and which is a test of Macron’s ability to push through change now that he has lost his working majority in parliament.

On the rail networks, only one in three high-speed TGV trains were operating and even fewer local and regional trains. Services on the Paris metro were thrown into disarray.

In Paris, marching behind banners reading “Pension reform, it’s a no” and chanting “Retirement at 60, we fought to get it, we will fight to keep it,” many said they would take to the streets as often as needed for the government to back down.

After Jan. 19 when more than a million people took to the streets on the first nationwide strike day, unions said initial data from protests across the country showed a bigger turnout.

Opinion polls show a substantial majority of the French oppose the reform, but Macron intends to stand his ground. The reform was “vital” to ensure the viability of the pension system, he said on Monday (January 30).

The government made some concessions while drafting the legislation. Macron had originally wanted the retirement age to be set at 65, while the government is also promising a minimum pension of 1,200 euros a month.