France's Macron to speed up tax cuts, raise wages, vows no U-turn
President Macron Ludovic Marin: Pool Reuters

President Emmanuel Macron on Monday announced wage rises for the poorest workers and tax cuts for pensioners, offering concessions after weeks of often violent protests that have challenged his authority.

In his first national address following two weekends of the worst unrest in France in years, Macron sought to restore calm after accusations that his political methods and economic policies were fracturing the country.

“We want a France where one can live in dignity through one’s work and on this we have gone too slowly,” Macron said on primetime television.

“I ask the government and parliament to do what is necessary.”

The president’s address came 48 hours after protesters fought street battles with riot police in Paris, hurling missiles, torching cars and looting shops.

Macron faces a delicate task: he needs to persuade the middle class and blue-collar workers that he hears their anger over a squeeze on household spending, without being exposed to charges of caving in to street politics.

He said people on the minimum wage would see their salaries increase by 100 euros a month from 2019 without extra costs to employers. Pensioners earning less than 2,000 euros would see recent increase in social security taxes scrapped.

But he also said he would stick to his reform agenda and refused to reinstate a wealth tax.

“We will respond to the economic and social urgency with strong measures, by cutting taxes more rapidly, by keeping our spending under control, but not with U-turns,” Macron said.

Additional reporting by Richard lough, Leigh Thomas, Pascale Denis, Jean-Bapttiste Vey, Marine Pennetier in Paris and Dhara Ranasinghe in London, Editing by David Stamp and John Stonestreet