Tear gas fired at French pension reform protest

STORY: French workers went on strike and joined marches across the country on Thursday (January 19), in a major test for President Emmanuel Macron.

He said on Thursday his pension reform plan, which opinion polls show is hugely unpopular, was "just and responsible" and had to be carried out.

Hundreds of thousands took part in rallies across the country, according to police estimates combined by Le Monde newspaper.

The government says the pension reform is vital to ensure the system does not go bust. Pushing back the retirement age by two years and extending the pay-in period would bring an additional 17.7 billion euros ($19.1 billion) in annual pension contributions, allowing the system to break even by 2027, according to Labour Ministry estimates.