Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in France on Thursday as strikes for pay rises and against President Emmanuel Macron’s reform plans disrupted train and air travel.
The Interior Ministry put the number of protesters nationwide at 323,000, while the hardline CGT union federation said half a million had joined more than 180 protests across the country.
State railway company SNCF said that 60 per cent of high-speed TGV trains and 50 per cent of regional services were cancelled.
Air France said it expected to operate all its long-haul flights but only 60 per cent of short-haul flights due to strike action by air traffic controllers.
It has also warned of cancellations on Friday due to separate strike action by its own staff.
Airports in the Paris region warned passengers to check their flight status with their airlines.
Public servants, including the air traffic controllers, are demanding a pay rise and are also opposed to government plans to recruit more staff on ordinary employment contracts.
Railway workers, meanwhile, are protesting government plans to open lines to competition and recruit new staff on ordinary employment contracts, phasing out their current civil servant-like status.
They are planning to strike two days out of every five throughout the months of April to June.
In the western city of Nantes, police said that an 8,500-strong march was marred by outbreaks of vandalism.
Eight people were arrested and six officers suffered minor injuries.
Police in Paris said 49,000 demonstrators took part in protest marches.
It is not the first confrontation between Macron and unions since the liberalising president took office in May 2017.
The CGT and the radical left also took to the streets 2017 against legislation intended to make employment law more flexible, but the protests fizzled out.
Macron is determined not to repeat the experience of former Prime Minister, Alain Juppe, who backed down on changes to SNCF pensions after rail strikes and mass protests in 1995 although he went ahead with reforms to the social security system.