PARIS Hooded youths clashed with police in Paris on Sunday during a May Day rally against planned labour reforms, while the government insisted it would not withdraw the bill which is due to be debated in parliament later this week.
Police, who said they clashed with a group of about 300 youths and detained three of them, responded with tear gas.
The reforms would give employers more flexibility to agree in-house deals with employees on working time, a move the government says is needed to bring down unemployment now above 10 percent.
Critics say the reforms will lead to poorer working conditions and more sackings.
"The draft bill is fair and necessary for the country," Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri told Europe 1 radio, Le Monde and iTELE in an interview.
More than 80,000 people marched throughout France on Sunday, including up to 17,000 in Paris, police said. That is far fewer than in the first rallies against the reform which started two months ago.
The CGT labour union said there were 70,000 protesters in Paris alone.
Three days ago, over 100 protesters were detained country-wide in another series of marches against the reform.
(Reporting by Ingrid Melander, Sophie Louet, Lucien Libert and Philippe Wojazer; Editing by Richard Balmforth)
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Published Date: May 02, 2016 00:00 AM | Updated Date: May 02, 2016 00:00 AM