Macron unveils measures to end yellow vest protests
PARIS : French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday announced a series of measures seeking to defuse the "yellow vest" revolt that has triggered violent protests across the country.
In a televised speech, a sombre-looking Macron told the nation, "I accept my share of responsibility" for the crisis.
He struck a more humble tone than usual.
"I know I have hurt some of you with my statements," he said.
Mr Macron stressed, however, that the protests by mostly low-income people in small town or rural France were the result of long-term problems.
"Their distress doesn't date from yesterday. We have ended up getting used to it," he said. "These are 40 years of malaise that have come to the surface."
Among the measures Mr Macron announced was a €100 (S$160) monthly increase in the minimum wage as of next year, for which businesses would not have to foot the bill.
His government had previously suggested that any increase in the minimum wage would destroy jobs.
But the protests are the biggest challenge for Mr Macron since he came to power in May last year promising to revitalise the economy. His popularity has fallen, with critics saying he favours the rich and alienates people who are struggling.
The centrist also announced he would roll back most of the unpopular increase in taxes on pensioners introduced by his government.
Some protesters, interviewed on French TV, acknowledged that Mr Macron had made some "concessions" but added that these were "insufficient" to call the protests off.
"There really is some progress. My smile got bigger and bigger as he spoke," said Erwan, one of the movement's "spokesmen" in the town of Rennes.
But Mr Pierre-Gael Laveder of Montceau-les-Mines town said: "Every one of his announcements was booed and the first overall reaction was, 'He thinks we are fools.'"- AFP