Macron Ups France’s Minimum Wage in Bid to Appease ‘Yellow Vest’ Protesters
Macron has made several concessions on the social demands of the Yellow Vest movement.
French President Emmanuel Macron has announced a EUR 100 increase of the minimum monthly wage in France in an effort to quiet down the violent protests of the Yellow Vest movement in recent weeks.
Macron addressed the French nation on Monday after the last two weekends saw the worst protests in France in years motivated at first by planned energy tax hikes, and then by demands for fixing social imbalances and indignation over what is seen as the President’s elitist governance.
The Yellow Vest rallies in Paris over the past weekend were especially violent with large scale clashes with the riot police, looting of stores, and car arsons, leading to the arrests of over 1,700 protesters.
The minimum monthly wage hike by EUR 100 as of 2019 is deemed a major concession by the French President to the Yellow Vest protesters, with Macron’s humbler tone making an impression.
“We want a France where one can live in dignity through one’s work and on this we have gone too slowly,” Macron stated in his televised address.
“I ask the government and parliament to do what is necessary,” he added, emphasizing that the minimum wage increase would come to no extra cost to employers.
Other measures the French President made public is scrapping social security taxes for pensioners receiving less than EUR 2,000 per month, abolishing taxes on overtime pay in 2019, and asking employers who turn profit to award tax-free year-end bonuses to their employees.
At the same time, Macron vowed to adhere to his plans for reforms, thus turning down demands that a wealth tax be reintroduced.
“We will respond to the economic and social urgency with strong measures, by cutting taxes more rapidly, by keeping our spending under control, but not with U-turns,” he declared.
France’s President also urged the Yellow Vests to abandon their violent protest tactics, arguing that assaults on police forces and public venues were not justified regardless of how angry the protesters were.
“I understand I have hurt some of you with my statements,” Macron added in line with conciliatory tone.
In his previous speech directed at the Yellow Vest movement at the end of November, the French leader mostly stayed the course, and failed to appease the protesters.
Earlier on Monday, Macron had meetings with parliamentarians, employers, and trade unions discussing the grievances of the Yellow Vests.
He made clear his understanding that the violent protest movement France was presently experiencing resulted from “40 years of malaise.”
(Banner image: Video grab from Elysee Palace)