Macron promises minimum wage increase

Macron
President Emmanuel Macron

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has promised a minimum wage rise and tax concessions in response to weeks of violent protests.

France has seen four weekends of violent protests against fuel tax rises, living costs, and other issues.

Speaking in a televised address, Mr Macron condemned the violence but said the protesters’ anger was “deep, and in many ways legitimate”.

The minimum wage would increase by €100 per month from 2019, BBC reported.

A planned tax increase for low-income pensioners would be cancelled, overtime pay would no longer be taxed, and employers would be encouraged to pay a tax-free end of year bonus to employees, he added.

However, he refused to reinstate a tax on the wealthy, saying “this would weaken us, we need to create jobs”.

The minimum wage will be increased by 7 percent and the cost of this increase will be met by the government rather than employers.

Government minister Olivier Dussopt told broadcaster BFMTV the total cost of all the measures is likely to be between €8bn and €10bn.

“We are in the process of fine-tuning and to see how to finance it,” he added.

ALSO READ: Over 1,700 arrested over ‘yellow vest’ protests in France

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

He said that over the last 40 years there had been “a malaise” of “villages and neighbourhoods where public services have been diminishing, where living conditions had deteriorated”.

There were many “people whose status in society had not been sufficiently well recognised. In a cowardly way, we had got used to it and everything seemed to suggest that we had forgotten them.

“I assume my share of the situation – I may have given you the feeling I have other concerns and priorities. I know some of you have been hurt by my words,” he added.

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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