Dec. 10 (UPI) -- French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday declared an "economic and social state of emergency," ordering the government and Parliament to immediately change tax rules and other policies that hit working class French people.
Macron promised to scrap a planned tax hike for pensioners and speed up plans to raise the minimum wage in his first televised speech since the monthlong "yellow vests" protests that have at times been violent.
But he would not give in to a top demand by demonstrators: his resignation.
"I may have given you the impression that this was not my concern, that I had other priorities. I take my share of responsibility. I know I have hurt some of you with my words," said Macron, who took office on May 17, 2017.
Macron asked employers to consider granting end-of-year bonuses to employees. He also promised to end to taxes on overtime pay starting Jan. 1.
He said the anger protesters have displayed over the weeks of demonstrations was "deep, and in many ways legitimate." The protests were sparked by a proposed fuel tax increase, which has since been scrapped, and became a rallying cry against high living costs and the Macron administration, viewed as being out of touch with citizens.
Some of the protests have broken out into violence, leading to looting and rioting in Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse and other cities. Four deaths have been blamed on the uprising.
Though conceding to some demands of the protesters, Macron condemned violence, saying there will be "no indulgence" for those who are violent.
"When violence is unleashed, freedom stops," he said, adding that law enforcement would use "all means" to restore peace.
Officials said protesters showed up at 120 French schools Monday, 40 of which were completely blocked. The demonstrations occurred while Macron held meetings with trade unions and business leaders to lay the groundwork for his address.
The protests have continued despite Macron striking the fuel tax increase from the 2019 budget.
Paris' iconic Eiffel Tower was closed over the weekend due to ongoing demonstrations and many metro train stations stopped operating. France's interior ministry said more than 130,000 demonstrators took part in the protests, which stretched from Marseille to Toulouse.
Marine Le Pen, a far-right politician whom Macron defeated to win the French presidency last year, said the president should "recognize society's suffering and deliver immediate, very strong responses."