Gilets Jaunes: Protests continue despite PM comments

The protesters have been dubbed "gilets jaunes" for the high-vis jackets they have already worn in earlier protests

Demonstrations against rising fuel prices are to go ahead in France tomorrow (Saturday November 17), with some petrol stations closing in solidarity, despite the conciliatory measures announced by the Prime Minister this week.

The protesters have been dubbed “yellow vests (gilets jaunes)” in reference to the high-visibility jackets they have been wearing while protesting on the roads already.

More than 700 sites of road blockage and protests are expected tomorrow, with demonstrators calling on the government to lower fuel prices and taxes on petrol.

Some petrol stations across the country are set to join the movement too, with branches of major brands such as E.Leclerc and Carrefour closing pumps in regions from Normandy to Nice.

Similarly, one police union urged its members not to issue tickets to drivers on November 17, in support of the protests.

Read more: Gilets Jaunes: Go-slows, blockades, and crossing demos

The continued protests come despite recent announcements by Prime Minister Édouard Philippe of government measures to address rising fuel bills, and President Emmanuel Macron’s defence that rising prices are simply due to rising global costs.

Measures include a new “conversion grant” of up to €4,000 for the 20% least well-off households, to help drivers buy a newer (second-hand) car that uses less fuel than their current vehicle. The current grant is capped at €2,000.

They also include the extension of mileage allowances for “small cylinder vehicles” and “heavy drivers, who do 60-70 km per day”. The PM also suggested that current petrol grants may no longer be taxed.

Government grants for energy bills will rise from €150 to €200, he said, in a move that could potentially help up to 5.6 million people, versus the 3.6 million affected now.

But Mr Philippe’s suggestions were received with derision from some protesters.

One said: “It’s all smoke and mirrors. They are taking from us in one area, and giving to us elsewhere.”

The creator of a recent map that showed all of the planned protests across the country, added that he was still receiving thousands of messages online from drivers wanting to join the movement.

A recent poll also found that the French public’s support for the protests is high.

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