French President Hollande says he won't back down on labour market reform despite street protests

French President Francois Hollande speaking during a morning radio show on France's Europe 1 station in Paris on May 17, 2016.
French President Francois Hollande speaking during a morning radio show on France's Europe 1 station in Paris on May 17, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday (May 17) ruled out withdrawing the labour market reforms which have sparked street protests for weeks and led to a vote of no-confidence in the government.

"I will not give way," Mr Hollande said in an interview with Europe 1 radio.

France is facing a week of strikes in protest at a reform the government says will make the notoriously rigid labour market more flexible but which opponents say will erode job security.

Mr Hollande also promised tougher action against troublemakers who infiltrate street protests against the labour market reforms and fight with riot police.

"It will not be accepted," Mr Hollande said, promising more arrests and bans on protesting for others.

He said more than 1,000 people had already been arrested and that 350 police officers had been injured in the violence.

The Socialist government last week survived the vote of no-confidence, which was called by the centre-right opposition after it forced through the labour market reform bill without Parliament's approval.