Turkish top diplomat calls hurt Anadolu Agency journo

Turkey's foreign minister called an Anadolu Agency reporter on Friday who was wounded during clashes between French police and demonstrators protesting controversial plans for pension reform.

Mevlut Cavusoglu wished Mustafa Yalcin a speedy recovery over the phone, saying that he would meet the photojournalist when he returned to health.

Yalcin was injured in the eye when a gas canister fired by the security forces struck him in the face, breaking his mask. He was rushed to a nearby hospital.

The Interior Ministry said 806,000 people took part in the protests, while labor unions put the number at nearly 1.5 million for the demonstrations in which police have used smoke bombs to disperse the crowd.

The "unlimited" strike impacted all public transport systems in the country, according to local media reports.

A total of 90 people have been arrested so far in Paris, police said.

Some train, subway and bus services were canceled and many schools were closed while 20% of flights to the country have been canceled.

The Paris Police Department said on Twitter that it had conducted 6,476 checks so far, the strike set to continue until Monday, according to labor unions.

The Gare du Nord, a railway station in Paris, was almost empty in the morning, according to broadcaster France 24.

Protesters, however, made their way to the station later in the day to attend the main march to Place de la Nation square.

They included police, healthcare professionals, teachers, lawyers, taxi and freight drivers, postal workers, farmers, civil servants, refinery workers and students, according to the Le Monde daily.

The walkout came after the government announced its determination to implement pension reform despite a nationwide outcry.

According to France's National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, President Emmanuel Macron has further fueled the "sense of anger and rebellion" among French people against their president with his economic policies that have given wealthy people a greater share of national income since his inauguration on May 17, 2017.

He has been facing the biggest crisis since the beginning of the Yellow Vest protests in October last year.

Proposed reform

France's government has proposed to unify its 42 different pension programs for different sectors into a single pension scheme.

The current system is based on the principle of solidarity between generations under which the working population finances the pensioners of that year.

But due to the aging population, fewer people are paying into the current system.

To fix this, the government introduced a point-based system that would compensate workers with pension points for every day they work or every euro they contribute.

The reform would lift privileges granted to civil servants and gradually increase the retirement age from 62 to 64, a move expected to adversely affect many sectors.

Workers will get a full pension if they retire at the age of 64. If they retire before this, they would lose 5% of their pensions for every year they retire early.

They would also gain a 5% increase in their pensions for every year if they retire after the age of 64.

Demonstrations and strikes have been supported by numerous labor and police unions as well as the Yellow Vests.

Macron has paused his overseas visits to focus on resolving the strikes and demonstrations.

Source: Anadolu Agency