French pension reform protests flare up again
Protests against pension reforms in France have flared up again, with large rallies being held in major cities such as Paris, Nice and Toulouse.
The authorities reportedly expected up to one million protesters across the country.
The strikes led to cancellations and disruptions to air and train services.
President Emmanuel Macron's government is planning to gradually raise the retirement age in France from 62 to 64.
In addition to pushing the retirement age back to 64, Macron also wants to accelerate the increase in the period of payment required for a full pension.
His government says the unpopular measures are needed to shore up the scheme for the future.
Labour unions denounce the plan and workers at oil refineries, schools, airports, rail systems and other places have walked off their jobs in recent weeks.
The current retirement age is 62 years.
In practice, however, it can begin years later because those who have not paid in long enough to be entitled to a full pension work longer.
At the age of 67 there is a pension without deductions, regardless of how long it has been paid in.
The government aims to keep this rule.
Under the reforms, the monthly minimum pension would increase to about 1200 euro ($A1945).
The plan is currently still being debated in the Senate but deliberations are set to end on Monday night.
Next week, a commission from both chambers of parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate, is set to work out a compromise.
The trade unions recently asked for a meeting with Macron on the reform proposal.
On Saturday, trade union representatives brought up the idea of a referendum.
"If he is so sure, all the president has to do is ask the people," Philippe Martinez of the CGT union said.
Surveys indicate that a large majority of the country opposes the reforms.