French Strike Over Pension Reform Enters Second Day   

A nationwide strike about planned pension reforms that has paralyzed most of France enters its second day Friday.Concern that the proposed pension overhaul would force millions of people to work longer or have less lucrative benefits has prompted the strike, bringing much of the country to a halt.Tens of thousands of workers in France walked off the job Thursday as unions staged a nationwide strike against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to reform the country’s pension system.The strike shut down transportation, forced most schools to close, left hospitals understaffed and basic government services unmet.Largely peaceful demonstrations were held in Paris and in more than two dozen cities throughout the country.Protesters hide behind a wooden board and an umbrella during a demonstration against the pension overhauls, in Nantes, Dec. 5, 2019, as part of a national general strike.Violence erupted, however, near Place de la Republique in eastern Paris, where thousands of protesters had gathered. Some protesters set fire to a construction trailer and police responded by firing tear gas, witnesses said.Police also used tear gas against protesters in the northwestern city of Nantes and in the southeastern city of Lyon.Union leaders have promised to continue protesting unless Macron abandons the proposed pension overhaul, which officials admit would force employees to gradually work longer.Officials have given few details about the plan, but Macron’s office said Thursday that Prime Minister Edouard Philippe would unveil the framework next week after negotiations with unions.The strike is a test of the political prowess of Macron, a former investment banker who won the presidency on the promise to transform France.

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