France increases minimum wage after protests, as Nigeria refuses to do same

France increases minimum wage after protests, as Nigeria refuses to do same

French President Emmanuel Macron announced late Monday that he will increase France's minimum wage by 100 euros - about $114 - a month and slash overtime and some pension taxes in an effort to curb a wave of violent protests that have rocked the country for almost a month and undermined the authority of his government.

Although he roundly condemned the recent violence, Macron acknowledged that people have a right to be angry.

On Saturday, protesters, for the fourth weekend in a row, threw stones, torched cars and vandalised shops and restaurants in a protest against Macron's economic policies.

Authorities will show "no indulgence" to those behind the vandalism and rioting, he said, adding that "no anger justifies" attacking police or looting stores.

The government intends to trim costs elsewhere and possibly increase borrowing to finance the hand-outs which it hopes will encourage protesters to abandon their road-side barricades and stop marching in Paris and other towns.

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Mr Macron said: "We are at a historic moment for our country".

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".

The demonstrations are widely known as the "yellow vest" or "gilets jaunes" movement, because protesters first took to the streets wearing gaudy yellow jackets, worn in every vehicle by French Law.

Benjamin Cauchy, one of the public faces of the movement, told France 2 that Macron presented "half measures".

Failing to quell the anger, he capitulated this week over plans for higher fuel taxes, his major U-turn since he took office.

"At first it was anger against a tax, and the prime minister responded by cancelling and removing all rises planned for the start of the new year", Macron said, as quoted by the BBC.

Demonstrators wearing yellow vests protest at the toll gates of a motorway, in Biarritz, southwestern France, on December 10, 2018.

"This would weaken us, we need to create jobs", he said, according to the BBC.

Mr Macron declared an "economic and social state of emergency", ordering the government and parliament to take immediate steps to change tax rules and other policies that hit the wallets of working class French people.

Mr Macron, who said he may have given an impression "not to care" about the concerns of ordinary citizens, also promised to speed up tax relief for struggling workers.

But Macron called the anger that has boiled over in the past weeks the result of what he describes as a 40-year-long "malaise", especially among rural French.

"It's something we've been hearing for a month.There is something broken between the President of the Republic and a segment of voters", said Bruno Jeudy, a political analyst. More than 1709 were arrested. "I don't forget that there is an anger, an indignation, which numerous French can share", he said, noting that he wants to declare a "state of economic and social emergency" to address their needs.

However, if support decreases on the back of the new measures, Davis forecasted, "we will likely begin to see the protests dissipate and more vigorous security measures employed against them".

Since there is no formal protest leader, it is too early to tell how Macron's words will be received overall and whether more marches are expected. More than 100 remain in custody.

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