Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in cities across France in protest at government plans to reform state pensions.
Public and private sector workers took part in the one-day strike.
With such support union leaders are confident the government will shelve its plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.
“This law, as it is now, won’t be passed. The level of participation at today’s demonstrations, the extremely high number of people who didn’t go to work shows that beyond just criticising or being angry, workers decided to take to the streets to stop the law in its current form,” said Bernard Thibault, CGT Union leader.
One student said the proposals meant some people going for certain masters or degrees would not retire until 67,68,69 – something that could have serious consequences for students today.
The government plans to lift the minimum retirement from 60 to 62 in 2018.
But the nationwide strike is a key test for President Sarkozy’s battle to bring down France’s ballooning deficit.
The government says unless it takes action the system will run up annual deficits of 100 billion euros by 2050.