PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday promised a 100-euro, or $114, monthly rise in France’s minimum wage among a series of measures aimed at placating the Yellow Vest protest movement.

In his first public comments in nine days, Macron also promised tax concessions to pensioners and workers taking on overtime, but rejected calls to reintroduce a partly scrapped wealth tax.

The French left and far-right dismissed Macron’s proposals, which came after a second consecutive Saturday saw Paris police clash with protesters. They argued that he wasn’t really changing course.

Reactions from the protesters, who have mounted roadblocks around France since mid-November wearing the fluorescent yellow safety tops that have become their symbol, were not as clear.

The movement has no leaders and no formal organization.

But most Yellow Vests who spoke to French media in the aftermath of Macron’s speech seemed inclined to continue their actions.

“It’s not enough,” one protester in southern France, identified only as Jean-Paul, told broadcaster BFMTV. “It’s only a small gesture.”

Macron, sporting stubble, made a 13-minute televised address from the Elysee Palace, introduced by the national anthem.

“The events of the last few weeks … have deeply troubled the nation,” he said. “No anger can justify attacking a policeman or a gendarme, vandalizing a shop or a government building.”

The president acknowledged that many protesters have not been swayed by the government’s decision last week to scrap the petrol and diesel tax hikes that initially sparked the movement.

Their anger “is much deeper,” he said. “I consider it justified in many ways, and that may be our opportunity.”

Opinion polls have shown widespread public support for the Yellow Vests, while Macron’s own ratings have sunk to new lows.

The 40-year-old centrist president, elected last year in a landslide victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen, admitted his government had “moved too slowly” on ensuring people could live in dignity from the proceeds of their work.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe would bring legislation before parliament on Tuesday to enshrine the new commitments into law, he said.

Macron said employers should also make an effort, calling on those who could afford it to pay workers an end-of-year bonus that would be exempt from tax and social charges.

The increase in the minimum wage would not cost employers anything, he promised.

An Elysee source later clarified to dpa that it would mainly involve a quicker implementation of rises in state payments to low-paid workers, originally slated to take effect over several years.

Macron also announced that pensioners with incomes of less than 2,000 euros, about $2,270, will be exempted from a controversial tax increase. A plan to exempt overtime payments from social charges will be broadened to exempt them from income tax too.

The measures overall would probably cost between 8 billion and 10 billion euros, junior budget minister Olivier Dussopt told BFMTV.


Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.