A national day of strikes is planned for tomorrow, affecting transport, schools, doctors, pharmacists and many other professions. Virtually all of France’s unions have called for industrial action by their members tomorrow. It’s the third national day of strike action against the French government’s planned pension reforms. More than 600 French hospital doctors have threatened to resign if the French government doesn’t increase health funding. The doctors warn that budget cuts, bed closures and staff shortages are bringing France’s health system to the brink of collapse and putting patients’ lives at risk.
Truck drivers have been protesting today against working conditions and wages. Locally, many drivers gathered at 6am this morning in Miramas in the Bouches de Rhone. While they support current strike action against the government’s pension reforms they are demanding recognition of the poor working conditions and wages in their industry.
Train services are expected to be severely disrupted tomorrow with the SNCF advising rail users to cancel or postpone travel plans if possible. Between Marseille and Nice only four TER trains are expected to run. 22 trains are scheduled between Nice and Ventimiglia and 22 between Cannes and Nice. It’s expected that only one TGV will operate from our region to Paris. There is more information at https://www.ter.sncf.com/sud-provence-alpes-cote-d-azur/horaires/info-trafic-greve-sncf-ter
Tomorrow the SNCF will be unveiling its plans for train service over the Christmas period in the event of the industrial action continuing.
Seven people have been taken into police custody in Corsica today in connection with the death of a pensioner last year. It’s believed that the death of the 67 year old man, who died from gunshot wounds in August 2018, may have been a case of mistaken identity.
A man is in hospital after apparently crashing his vehicle in the arriere pays of Nice this morning. The eighty year old’s car went off the road at La Bollène-Vésubie and fell several metres into a ditch.
39 people including children have been treated by medical staff in Marseille after being poisoned by carbon monoxide. The incident occurred on Sunday evening at a hotel in the city. Emergency services intervened shortly after 10.30pm and the building was evacuated. 28 of the 39 were taken to hospital nearby. Controls are being carried out on the ventilation system of the building as the investigation into the cause of the incident continues.
In the UK, shares in Sports Direct rose earlier today after the company reported a rise pre-tax half year profits to £193.4m. Sports Direct shareholders today voted to change the retailer's corporate name to Frasers Group. The company said that more closures of House of Fraser stores may have to be carried out next year.
Water companies in England and Wales are facing the toughest restrictions on investor payouts since privatisation 30 years ago according to the regulator. Ofwat also said water firms would have to cut the average customer bill by £50 over the next five years. It is also forcing water companies to invest billions of pounds to improve their performance and reduce leaks.
In the UK, the widely watched composite Purchasing Manger’s flash survey, which is based on 85% of replies to the survey, fell from from 49.3 in November to 48.5 in December, which was worse than the consensus expectation. Meanwhile, the eurozone composite PMI remained unchanged at 50.6 in December. That's just above the 50 mark which separates expansion from contraction.
Football… In the last 16 of the Champions League, Manchester City will face Real Madrid while holders Liverpool have been drawn against Atletico Madrid. Chelsea play Bayern Munich in a repeat of the 2012 final while Tottenham take on another German side, RB Leipzig. Amongst other ties, Borussia Dortmund will play Paris St-Germain and Napoli take on Barcelona. The first legs will be played in late February and early March.
In other football news, Mark van Bommel has been sacked as head coach of PSV Eindhoven. PSV are fourth in the league, 10 points behind leaders Ajax, and lost 3-1 to Feyenoord on Sunday.
Rugby Union… Former Wales backs coach Rob Howley has been banned from rugby for 18 months, with nine suspended, for betting on matches, including Wales games. The suspension is backdated to his withdrawal from the Wales World Cup campaign, on the 16 September. Howley was sent home from Japan six days before Wales' opening win against Pool D opponents Georgia and replaced by Stephen Jones.
Cricket… South Africa have named six uncapped players in their squad for the first two Tests of the home series against England. Batsmen Pieter Malan and Rassie van der Dussen have been included, as well as bowlers Dane Paterson and Beuran Hendricks. All-rounder Dwaine Pretorius and wicketkeeper Rudi Second have also made the squad. The first of four Tests between the two sides will start on 26 December.