Macron pledges to raise French minimum wage in response to protests

Thousands of yellow vest protesters seen in front of Arc De Triomphe in Paris

Thousands of yellow vest protesters seen in front of Arc De Triomphe in Paris

"Macron is there for the rich, not for all the French", 68-year-old retiree Jean-Pierre Meunuer said at Saturday's protests in Paris.

He acknowledged "anger and indignation" among the public over the cost of living, but he also said "no indulgence" would be given to people behind the protest violence.

French President Emmanuel Macron has 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. Macron however has appeared determined to continue his course, and no presidential or parliamentary elections are planned until 2022.

Stunned by the savagery of the personal attacks and violence of the protests, Mr Macron had gone off radar for a week, with some aides even fearing he could be the victim of an attempted putsch.

Around 320 people were injured during protests across the country on Saturday, including 39 police officers, authorities said.

Political analyst Dominique Moisi said the important thing in Macron's speech was not only "what he said but the way he said it".

Many have been calling for Macron to step down, CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports.

Now the students are joining in.

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They're protesting education reforms that include a fee hike, particularly for foreign students.

Small business representatives lamented the blow the demonstrations were dealing to retail and other companies at the height of the Christmas shopping season.

"We are ready to make any gesture" that works, he said on RTL radio.

The central bank on Monday halved its fourth-quarter growth forecast to just 0.2 per cent from 0.4 per cent - far below the 0.8 per cent growth needed to meet the government's full-year target of 1.7 per cent.

Even as Macron broke his silence on the protests in a brief televised address, yellow-vested demonstrators vowed to keep up the pressure on a man they see as arrogant, out-of-touch and "president of the rich". "That means fewer jobs, it means less prosperity for the whole country", he said.

However, the protests have continued, and turned into a broader rebuke against the economic policies of Macron and the French ruling class, which many citizens view as elitist and indifferent to their struggles.

The Eiffel Tower and several museums closed for security reasons, as did top Paris department stores on what should have been a prime shopping weekend. "These are forty years of malaise that have come to the surface", he added.

A spokesperson for the French interior minister told ABC News that 136,000 people demonstrated in France on Saturday, including 10,000 people in Paris.

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