Europe

After violent protests, French labor law nears finish line

  • France President Francois Hollande attends a meeting with magistrates at the Justice Minister, in Paris, Monday, July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, Pool)

    France President Francois Hollande attends a meeting with magistrates at the Justice Minister, in Paris, Monday, July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - This Thursday, May 26, 2016 file photo shows riot police officers clashing with protestors during a demonstration held as part of nationwide labor actions in Paris, France. A deeply divisive labor bill has been definitively adopted by the French Parliament after the government used a special measure to force it through without a vote. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

    FILE - This Thursday, May 26, 2016 file photo shows riot police officers clashing with protestors during a demonstration held as part of nationwide labor actions in Paris, France. A deeply divisive labor bill has been definitively adopted by the French Parliament after the government used a special measure to force it through without a vote. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - This Wednesday, March, 9, 2016 file photo shows workers and students demonstrating against a labor law bill in Marseille, southern France.  Banner reads: "No El Khomri", referring to French Labor Minister Myriam El Khomri. A deeply divisive labor bill has been definitively adopted by the French Parliament after the government used a special measure to force it through without a vote. (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File)

    FILE - This Wednesday, March, 9, 2016 file photo shows workers and students demonstrating against a labor law bill in Marseille, southern France. Banner reads: "No El Khomri", referring to French Labor Minister Myriam El Khomri. A deeply divisive labor bill has been definitively adopted by the French Parliament after the government used a special measure to force it through without a vote. (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File)  (The Associated Press)

A deeply divisive labor bill is nearing final approval in France's Parliament after an often violent national debate over how to modernize the French work force.

The lower house takes up its third and final debate on the bill Wednesday. The Socialist government, which wants to make layoffs easier and extend the work week, may force it through without a vote because left and right can't agree.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has already used that tactic on the bill twice, prompting months of violent clashes between police and leftist protesters who accuse the government of trampling on democracy and dismantling hard-won worker protections.

Conservative critics say the bill doesn't go far enough. The government argues it will create jobs by giving employers more flexibility and making France more internationally competitive.