'More than 500,000 people have marched in cities across France as railway workers, teachers and hospital staff held one of the biggest public sector strikes in decades against Emmanuel Macron’s plans to overhaul the pension system.
A nationwide transport strike brought much of France to a standstill and was expected to continue for the next few days as unions dug in, saying the president’s pension changes would force millions of people to work longer or receive lower payments.
Trains, metros and bus services were severely hit, some flights were cancelled and many schools were closed in the biggest challenge to Macron’s reform agenda since the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) anti-government protests erupted last year.
In Paris, police briefly fired teargas during skirmishes with black-clad protesters on the edges of the trade union-led march in the early afternoon. Some protesters set fire to a storage trailer, smashed windows and a bus shelter, and overturned cars. Firefighters put out small fires lit in bins.
More than 6,000 riot police lined the route of the demonstration from Paris Gare du Nord to the east of the city, while groups of officers stopped people walking towards the demonstration and searched bags. By late afternoon there had been more than 70 arrests and 9,000 searches.
Riot police in Nantes, western France, fired teargas at masked protesters, who hurled projectiles at them.'
Read more: More than 500,000 people march against Macron as strikes grip France
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