More than a million people in France protested and went on strike Thursday in response to the government’s plan to raise the retirement age.
In Paris, more than 80,000 people took to the streets, with demonstrations occurring in another 200 cities, BBC News reported.
Philippe Martinez, the head of the General Confederation of Labor, said the number of protesters was likely closer to 2 million.
Macron has described the changes, which raises the retirement age from 62 to 64, as “just and responsible” since the ratio of people working and paying into the pension system to people retiring and receiving their pension funds has fallen to about 1.7 workers for every retiree.
Every French citizen is guaranteed a pension.
Train drivers, public sector workers and refinery staff also went on strike, leading to travel disruptions including minimal rail service in Paris and school closures. The country’s biggest secondary education union said 65% of its members went on strike.
Under the new retirement plan, workers would need to work 43 years to get their full pension, as opposed to the current 42 years.
However, public polling has found the decision is extremely unpopular, with only 32% approving.
The move would keep France’s retirement age lower than its neighbors. Workers in Italy and Germany can retire at 67, while those in the UK can retire at 66.
France has reformed its pension plans several times since former President François Mitterrand lowered the retirement age to 60. The country most recently raised the age, to its current 62, under former President Nicolas Sarkozy after weeks of protests in 2010.