After violent protests, French labor law nears finish line

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.