French lawmakers approve Macron's emergency social measures to appease protestors

Friday, 2018-12-21 20:04:53
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Protesters wearing yellow vests take part in a demonstration of the "yellow vests" movement in Paris, France, December 15, 2018. (File photo: Reuters)
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France's lower house of parliament overnight passed President Emmanuel Macron's emergency measures aiming to improve people's purchasing power and ending road blockades and street protests staged by the "Yellow Vests."

The measures, a mix of wage rises and tax breaks, were approved with support from Macron's La Republique en Marche (LREM) party.

Presented at a cabinet meeting earlier this week, the bill is meant to allow employees who are paid up to €3,600 (US$4,085) per month to enjoy an "exceptional bonus" worth €1,000 (US$1,135), to be paid by March 31, 2019 without being subjected to taxation.

Among the measures is also a tax-free status for overtime hours, in addition to the removal of a planned 1.7 percent hike in the CGS social charge for pensioners earning less than €2,000 (US$2,269) per month.

"These measures provide quick, strong and concrete responses" and "condition of an appeasement, even it will not be enough," Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud told lawmakers early Friday morning.

The "Yellow Vest" movement that has been held on weekends starting from mid-November in France took its name from the driver's highly-visible jacket. It was created as part of a social media campaign, in which several groups called for blockades and go-slows across the country to protest a hike in fuel tax and in the price of diesel, the most commonly used car fuel in France.

The movement has gradually evolved into a nationwide rally.