France crippled by mass walkout over pension reforms
France was paralysed by a national strike over President Emmanuel Macron's planned pension reforms as public sector workers walked off the job en masse on Thursday.
The rail and air networks were at a standstill as intercity TGV services and thousands of flights were cancelled. Eurostar trains between London and Paris were running about half their normal timetable.
In Paris, 11 out of 16 metro lines were shut, while schools across the country were also closed as teachers refused to work.
Neo-liberal Macron has angered workers over plans to make them work longer or face reduced pensions. The president wants to introduce a universal points-based system to replace the 42 special "regimes" that currently exist.
Unions argue that a unified system would lead to workers in both the public and private sectors working beyond the legal retirement age of 62 or face a sharp fall in the value of their pensions.
Despite the anger, there appeared to be a consensus that the system needed to be overhauled. However, among voters there is distrust that the pro-business Macron can be trusted to deliver.
A consultation process is still under way and parliament will not debate proposals until 2020.
Macron has been under pressure to make good on his election promises of fiscal reform after months of anti-government protests by the "gilets jaunes" (yellow jacket) campaigners over rising fuel prices that quickly escalated into violent national mass demonstrations for economic justice.