Macron Pledges Buybacks Will See Firms Pay More to Workers


French President Emmanuel Macron said he is working on ways to force companies carrying out share buybacks to distribute more of their profits to workers, as he seeks to defuse the anger of protest over his pension reform. 

“There is a kind of cynicism at work when we have big businesses with such big revenues they can buy back their shares, so I’m going to ask the government to work on an exceptional contribution,” Macron said in a television interview Wednesday, on the eve of another round of strikes and protests. “There is a feeling of injustice that I do hear.” 

The French leader has already pushed measures to increase profit sharing with employees, pledging a so-called worker dividend during the 2022 election campaign.

To meet Macron’s new aim, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday that the government plans to oblige companies conducting share buy-backs to make greater use of existing tax-free bonuses Macron introduced in 2019 after the Yellow Vest protests over the cost of living, as well as profit-sharing formulas first developed by Charles de Gaulle.  

Addressing senators, Le Maire said the amounts paid under those mechanisms should be “substantial” or potentially doubled. The new constraint will be proposed to labor and business unions for negotiation and would apply to companies with more than 5,000 employees.

“We share the aim of finding the right balance between the competitiveness of businesses and better share value with workers,” Le Maire said. 

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