French pension strikes hit energy, fuel, transport

STORY: France was hit by a new wave of strikes and protests on Tuesday (March 7).

Unions have called for walkouts over planned pension reforms.

Stoppages disrupted fuel deliveries and operations at oil refineries operated by Esso and others.

Power generation and garbage collection were also hit.

At a protest in the western port of Saint-Nazaire, one union delegate said raising the retirement age by two years to 64 was a step too far:

"People are fed up. People are exhausted. People see around them that there are plenty of colleagues who don't even make it to the current legal retirement age, so how can we expect them to make it to 64?”

Commuters in Paris were among those to feel the effects of Tuesday’s strike, with rail services in the capital badly disrupted.

However, at least some travellers had sympathy for the strikers:

"Of course it affects me because I need to go to work like everyone else. I don't like being stressed in commuting but it's not just important, I would say it's of utmost importance even, because it's about our pensions.”

Unions say they will ramp up pressure on lawmakers to vote against the reforms.

They say rolling strikes could be prolonged for days.

However, French President Emmanuel Macron is pressing ahead.

Though his camp doesn’t have a majority in parliament, he can count on support from some conservative opposition members.

Ministers hope to see the measures approved by the end of the month.