PARIS — Strikes hobbled public transit across France and in London on Tuesday, forcing tourists and commuters to alter their plans as they bore the brunt of a wave of discontent over government cost-cutting measures — a wave expected to soon prompt walkouts elsewhere on the continent.
French unions staged a nationwide walkout over plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, cutting service on trains, planes, buses and subways. London Underground workers unhappy about job cuts closed much of the city's subway system — the first in a series of 24-hour strikes planned for the fall.
The French strike coincides with the start of debate in parliament over a plan to overhaul the money-losing pension system so it will break even in 2018. The government insists the reform is essential as people are living longer, and it has urged everyone to show "courage" as it tries to chip away at the huge national debt.
The French retirement age of 60 is already among the lowest in Europe. In contrast, neighboring Germany has decided to bump the retirement age from 65 to 67 and the U.S. Social Security system is gradually raising the retirement age to 67.