Aware of the power-ending likelihood of France's history of a mixture of labor and student protests, French President Emmanuel Macron, yesterday, unfolded a fresh set of reforms seeking to end four-consecutive weekends of violent protests.
To appease the "yellow vest" protesters, the French government not only scrapped a pending fuel tax which was the ignition of recent protests, but it went farther to announce a minimum wage increase of about 100 Euros a month or of 7%, starting in 2019. Macron's government also abandoned a proposed tax increase on low-income pensioners. Overtime pay is not to be taxed and employers have been encouraged to pay a tax-free year-end bonus to employees. The government said the cost of the employee benefits it outlined, would be picked up by the government and not by employers to the tune of an estimated cost of between 8 and 10 billion Euros.
Macron, however, failed to reinstate a tax on the wealthy saying that it would weaken France.
This new French fix to ending weekends of violent protests, is yet to tested. The BBC-News reported that on the first weekend of protests, November 17, 282,000 people protested with one death reported, 409 wounded and 73 arrests; on November 24, 166,000 protested with 84 injuries and 307 arrests; on December 1, 136,000 protested with one reported death, 263 injuries and 630 arrests; and last weekend, 136,000 protested with 118 injuries and 1,220 arrests.
Social unrest still continues in France as scores of high schools are calling for a "Black Tuesday" day of protests, today, December 11, to protest Macron's education reforms, which they say will harm less-privileged schools.
France 24 reported that for each day of the past week, up to 300 high school were barricaded across France as students protested reforms relating to end-of-school exams. The broad testing process is to be replaced by more specific courses. Students are also protesting the government's plan to impose a stricter selection criteria for universities. The number of schools reported protesting yesterday had decline to 120, France 24 reported.
French labor and student protests brought about the demise of the Charles de Gaulle government back in 1968. Mindful of this historical fact, Macron's present day government is trying to calm social fears via the new proposed overtures to the "yellow vest" protesters. Yet, the question remains: Is it enough or is it too late?