Tens of thousands took part in pension reform protests in Lyon on Thursday as major nationwide strikes enter their 36th day.

"Hospitals are in a catastrophic situation. We can not properly take care of the patients anymore." said a nurse at the protest.

A lawyer warned that legal fees may rise as a result of the reform, and that some areas of the country may be left without enough law professionals. The lack of skilled health workers is already a problem in some rural areas in France.

Footage shows riot police trying to disperse the chanting crowd with tear gas and protesters kicking tear gas canisters back towards the police. Some 11,000 people took part in the protest in Lyon according to the police, while the CGT union claimed the number is as high as 27,000.

The nationwide strike which started in early December, is one of the biggest to hit the country in years and has been affecting rail, road and air transportation.

On December 11, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced a two-year-extension of the working period necessary to earn a full pension, triggering the anger of workers and trade unions. The reforms attempt to overhaul France's pension system into a universal system that will see pay-outs calculated from whole careers rather than the current last five years of activity. The pension age will also be increased from 62 to 64.

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