Macron declares 'economic and social state of emergency'

French President announces increase in minimum wage amid ongoing protests by the so-called "yellow vests".

Ben Ariel ,

"Yellow vests" protest in Paris
"Yellow vests" protest in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday announced a 100-euro ($113) per month increase in the minimum wage starting next year amid the ongoing protests by the so-called "yellow vests", AFP reports.

The minimum wage was set at 1,498 euros per month pre-tax in 2018 and 1,185 euros after tax.

Macron also rolled back most of an unpopular increase in taxes on pensioners which was introduced by his government.

In an address to the nation, the president also struck a more humble tone than usual as he sought to address criticism of his style of leadership.

"I know that I have hurt some of you with my statements," he said, according to AFP.

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. These are forty years of malaise that have come to the surface," he said.

Macron pleaded for a return to calm after almost four weeks of protests.

He 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.

At least 126 rioters were injured in Paris this past Saturday, at the end of the fourth week of the "Yellow Vest" riots. None of them was seriously injured, and the hospitals said three policemen were also injured.

Some 125,000 people took part in protests across France on Saturday - about 10,000 of them in Paris, where the greatest damage was recorded. Cars were set on fire, shop windows were smashed and shops were looted.

Protesters had spent days demanding that Macron speak publicly about their concerns, but it's unclear whether the responses he offered will be enough to quell the dissatisfaction, noted The Associated Press. Some protest representatives have said more demonstrations will be held this coming Saturday.