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Sympathy for protesters in France

It is easy to understand the frustration that led to the gilets jaunes protests. People had had enough of inaction by successive presidents to ensure everyone had a living wage.

It was not a surprise that the protests became violent as it seems it is the French nature to measure the success of protest by the level of violence used.

The French attachment to violent protest is akin to the American attachment to the gun. But France is not alone in the rise of poverty. It is prevalent throughout the world.

The trend over the past 20 or 30 years is that those at the top are taking a greater share of the profits at the expense of their employees. The introduction of zero-hours contracts, which I consider to be indentured slavery, and the increased use of temporary contracts has fuelled the rise of poverty. Another contributor to poverty is the process in France and many European countries that prevents people’s performance being measured and rewarded. Correction is not allowed for poor work attitudes and practices.

Does any leader in Europe understand the level of poverty in their own country? The evidence would suggest not.

President Macron’s need to apologise reflects the common view across Europe that politicians and bureaucrats are out of touch with the basic needs of their people, to survive.

France has a minimum wage standard which is supposedly a living wage, but is it sufficient to prevent poverty and does it apply to everyone?

The gilets jaunes protest – without the violence – is the way forward until leaders realise that actions speak louder than words, in particular theirs.

Jim SHORT, Pyrénées-Orientales

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