Macron Offers Minimum Wage Increase To Buy Off Yellow Vest Protesters

Yellow vest (gilets jaunes) protestors take notes as thet watch French President Emmanuel Macron's speech on TV on December 10, 2018 at a restaurant with French deputy Richard Damos, in Fay-au-Loges, near Orleans, Center France. (Photo by GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP) (Photo credit should read GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP/Getty Images)

President Emmanuel Macron addressed the French nation Wednesday, promising a 100 euro a month increase in the minimum wage, tax-free overtime pay, and year-end bonuses following the Yellow Vest protests.

The French leader immediately denounced the violence of the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) at the beginning of his speech, saying “The events of recent weeks in France and overseas have deeply troubled the nation. They have mingled legitimate claims and an unacceptable level of violence,” Le Monde reports.

Macron went on to add that, “calm and the Republican Order must prevail” and noted that he understood the anger of the protesters in contrast to those committing violence who he described as having legitimate anger over and have “no hope” due to their financial situations where many are struggling to get by.

The first concrete proposal from the French leader was a 100 euro per month increase in the minimum inter-professional growth wage (SMIC) formally known as the guaranteed minimum wage, which will begin in the new year.

Next, Macron stated that there would be changes to the Generalized Social Contribution (CSG), a levy which is used to pay for social security, saying that he would cancel payment increases for retirees making less than 2,000 euros per month.

“I will ask all employers who can, to pay an end-of-year bonus to employees, which will be tax-free,” Macron added and went on to add that overtime work will not be subject to taxes or other charges starting in 2019.

Addressing the Yellow Vests directly Macron said, “I do not forget that there is anger, indignation, and many French people share it,” and took responsibility saying, “I was able to hurt some of you with my comments.”

After promising to work with businesses and mayors across the country in the coming weeks, Macron concluded his speech saying, “We will not resume the course of our lives without anything having changed. We are at a historic moment for our country. My only concern is you. My only fight is for you. Our only battle is for France.”

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a special address to the nation, his first public comments after four weeks of nationwide ‘yellow vest’ (gilets jaunes) protests. (Photo credit: LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Far-left France Insoumise leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, a key supporter of the Yellow Vests, commented on the speech saying, “To the indignation of the large number against the fact that some have everything and others nothing, the president thought that a distribution of money would suffice to calm the current citizen uprising.”

“In all that has been announced by Macron, everything will be paid by the people; nothing will be paid by the rich,” he said and called on protesters to gather again on Saturday for “Act V” of the protests which he described as a “moment of great mobilization.”

In an interview with French broadcaster BFMTV, a Yellow Vest protester also reacted to the speech saying to Macron, “If you still have respect for your people, resign.”

The speech comes after four weeks of protests that have seen some of the worst levels of rioting and violence in France in decades, including this past weekend when over a thousand protestors were arrested and violence occurred not only in Paris but spread across the country to Bordeaux and Toulouse.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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