Macron addresses the nation; announces rise in minimum wage

Irving Hamilton
December 10, 2018

"We want a France where one can live in dignity through one's work and on this we have gone too slowly", Macron said on primetime television.

Mr Macron, who until kept a low profile during the protests, admitted that many people were unhappy with living conditions and felt they "had not been listened to".

"These are forty years of malaise that have come to the surface", he added.

Secretary general of the moderate workers union CFDT Laurent Berger said "we had no answer" about the president's declaration.

In a massive climbdown he then vowed to increase the minimum wage by 100 euros per month from 2019.

Government officials said Macron will announce "immediate and concrete measures" in a bid to defuse the situation. The protests throughout the country boiled into riots with clashes and police using tear gas.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on RTL radio Monday that the fallout from protests could cost the economy 0.1 percent of gross domestic product.

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On November 17, around 20,000 protestors dressed in fluorescent high-vis jackets blocked highways across France with convoys of slow-moving trucks and burning barricades.

Looting and rioting, blamed mostly on far-left and far-right agitators, has repeatedly broken out in Paris, spreading to Bordeaux, Toulouse, and other cities at the weekend.

Authorities say 136,000 people took part in protests across France on Saturday, including 10,000 in Paris.

French police arrest a man during a Yellow Vests demonstration in Paris.

Macron this month bowed to public pressure to abandon a fuel-tax increase that sparked the Yellow Vests movement.Economic activity may rebound if the protests subside in the near future, but some of the most impacted sectors - agriculture, restaurants and hotels - won't catch up lost business.Despite cutting its growth estimate, the Bank of France reported little change in its business climate indicators.

High school students also continued to demonstrate in and around their schools, forcing 40 of them to close.

Mr Macron, a former banker, has previously been criticised for being out of touch and not listening to the struggles of ordinary people.

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