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Strikes, protests in France against disputed labour reforms

PARIS — Protesters clashed with police in several French cities Thursday over proposed reforms to the country's labour rules and strikers forced cancellations and delays at two major airports serving Paris.

Thousands of demonstrators marched in Paris, and violence broke out when several dozen people, many with their faces covered, started throwing objects at police. Police used tear gas to disperse protesters and said one police officer was seriously wounded.

French television also showed clashes in the southern city of Marseille and in the western cities of Nantes and Rennes.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said 124 people had been arrested in protests around the country. He strongly condemned the violence and said perpetrators will be prosecuted.

An air traffic controllers strike cancelled 20 per cent of all the flights at Paris' Orly Airport and also caused delays at Charles De Gaulle Airport, according the Paris airport authority website.

France has seen a series of strikes and protests against the labour reform bill, which aims to encourage companies to hire. Critics say the reforms will compromise France's hard-won worker protections without curbing the country's stubbornly high unemployment rate.

The bill will be debated next week in France's lower house of parliament.

The Associated Press

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