On Thursday, around 806,000 people in France marched in demonstrations against the government’s planned pension reform while a strike by millions of transport workers and teachers nearly paralyzed citizens’ daily lives.
Police in Paris have used tear gas to disperse demonstrators involved in rioting and smashing shop windows and setting fire to a car, AFP reporters said on Thursday night.
What is happening in Paris is compared to the fighting between the government and the trade unions in November and December 1995, which paralyzed the country for about three weeks.
Public services report that traffic on the main roads in the Paris region is over 375 kilometers long.
The French national railway company SNCF has informed that only one out of ten long-distance trains is operated, while in the Paris metro works only two lines operated by automatic trains.
Hundreds of flights have also been canceled and traffic incidents are expected over the weekend.
Schools are also closed, but hospitals work with a limited number of staff.
The Palace of Versailles is closed, but the Louvre Museum warned visitors of possible delays and certain closed galleries. The Eiffel Tower reopened on Friday, but tourists have trouble getting to the tower due to traffic disruption.
Trade union CGT reports that workers have blocked seven out of eight French oil refineries, raising concerns that fuel shortages could start if the strike continues.
Paris bus and metro companies have announced they will continue the strike until at least Monday. Other unions are expected to decide on Friday how long the strike will continue, Reuters reports.
Strikers protest against pension reform by French President Emmanuel Macron. The plan is to introduce universal, point-based pensions, but for a large part of the population, this will mean an increase in the retirement age and a lower level of pension.
There are currently 42 different special pension schemes in France for different occupational sectors. Trade unions say the reform will mean that millions of private-sector workers will have to work beyond the legal retirement age of 62 if they want the pension to remain at the level previously promised.