Paris, Dec 10:Ahead of his televised address to the nation Monday evening, French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday met key trade union leaders, businessmen, senior ministers , employers’ organizations and local elected officials to address rising discontent in the country amid the violent “yellow vests” protests that have challenged his grip on power.
The French President is facing criticism with demonstrators marching against the rise of living costs, the scrapping of the “fortune tax” and accusations that the former banker has done little to address the inequality in French society.
The emergency meeting took place at the Élysée Palace in the morning and saw Macron, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and trade union leaders to attempt to come up with solutions to growing social unrest.É
We are ready to make any gesture” that works, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told RTL radio on Monday. “What is important now is to put an end to the crisis and find peace and unity in the country again.”
The General Confederation of Labour’s (CGT) Director Phillipe Martínez, who attended the meeting, said in a statement that he would not be used by the government to project an image of dialogue when it wasn’t acknowledging the plight of the people, Efe news reported.
The CGT went on to say that it expected a proposal of specific measures that could be put into place immediately, in particular, a 20 per cent rise of the minimum wage bringing it up to 1,800 euros ($2,052) per annum, a hike in pensions and a “social justice” reform to re-establish a wealth tax.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Mair said that the government rejected a 1.8 per cent minimum wage.
The “gilet jaunes” (“yellow vests”) demonstrations started as a protest against plans to hike of fuel taxes but grew into broader anti-government protests over time.
Macron put the fuel increases on hold but the protests were not abated. About 1,723 people were taken in for questioning and 1,220 were taken into custody during last weekend, said the Interior Ministry.