Workers from various sectors such as transportation, energy, and education are set to hold demonstrations at 240 different locations across France.

A protester holds up a sign that reads
A protester holds up a sign that reads "Retirement before arthritis" against Macron's controversial move to raise the minimum retirement age to 64 from 62. (AP Archive)

France braces for another day of mass protests and strikes on Tuesday over proposed pension overhauls being pushed by President Emmanuel Macron.

Around 1.1 million people took to the streets for the first strike day on January 19, according to official statistics, the biggest demonstrations since the last major round of pension reform under right-wing president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010.

Security forces are expecting similarly sized crowds on Tuesday in 240 demonstrations around the country, in addition to strike disruptions to transport, schools and other services, a police source said.

With unions warning that more stoppages are to come, the strikes represent a major test for Macron as he seeks to implement a showcase policy of his second term in office.

Laurent Berger, head of the French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT), warned that the government "cannot remain deaf to this formidable mobilisation," in a television interview with France 2.

A new poll by the OpinionWay survey group, published in the Les Echos financial daily on Monday, showed that 61 percent of French people supported the protest movement, a rise of three percentage points from January 12.

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'64 not up for discussion'

Most Paris metro and suburban rail services will be severely restricted on Tuesday, said operator RATP, while intercity travel will be disrupted with just one in three high-speed TGV trains running, according to SNCF.

Around half of all nursery and primary school teachers would be striking, the main teachers' union Snuipp-FSU said.

Macron and his allies are also facing struggles in parliament as well as on the street. The left-wing opposition has submitted more than 7,000 amendments to the draft legislation in a bid to slow its path through parliament.

Macron's centrist allies, short of an absolute majority in parliament, will need votes from conservatives to get the pensions plan approved.

The most controversial part of the proposed reform is hiking the minimum retirement age to 64 from 62, which is the lowest level in any major European economy.

Macron, who made the change part of his re-election manifesto last year, says it is needed to guarantee the future financing of the pension system, which is forecast to tip into deficit in the next few years.

Opponents point out that the system is currently balanced, noting that the head of the independent Pensions Advisory Council recently told parliament that "pension spending is not out of control, it's relatively contained".

For Macron, who has repeatedly told French people they "need to work more", failure to succeed with a signature proposal would severely undermine his credibility for the remainder of his second and last term in office, analysts say.

The government headed by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has signalled there is wiggle room on some measures as parliamentary committees started examining the draft law on Monday.

Conditions could be improved for people who started working very young, or for mothers who interrupted their careers to look after children and people who invested in further education, Borne has suggested.

But the headline age limit of 64 is not up for discussion, she said on Sunday, calling it "non-negotiable".

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Source: AFP