Evening Update Wednesday 22 January 2020

French unions are still planning for what they refer to as "a massive day of strike and inter-professional demonstration" this Friday. The day of action is planned to coincide with the examination of the proposed pension reform legislation by the Council of Ministers in Paris.  Regional transport will once again be disrupted by industrial action on Friday with no trams running in Nice and a limited bus service.  Unions are calling for a 72 hour blockade of French ports, including Marseille and Fos in the Bouche du Rhone. The local chamber of commerce has said that industrial action at those ports since the 5th of December has resulted in a loss of 100 million euros. Meanwhile, lawyers in Nice are planning another demonstration against proposed pension reforms tomorrow. It’s the third consecutive week of industrial action by members of the Nice bar.

Two departments in south-west France have been placed on a rare Meteo France Red weather warning, as storms continue to affect the region. The top-level warning is for river flooding in the Pyrénées-Orientales and Aude Departments. Reports say that an evacuation of residents is underway from a 300-meter strip on either side of dykes in several municipalities. Both departments remain on an Orange level alert, which is one level less than a Red alert, for heavy rain and flooding. In addition, the Pyrénées-Orientales is on an Orange alert for avalanches. 23,000 homes are reported to be still without electricity in the department.

A woman has been sentenced after arriving at Nice airport with contraband tobacco. The woman, from Tunisia, was arrested after attempting to bring 3 kg of tobacco and 318 packets of cigarettes into France. The products have a value in France of several times the purchase cost in Tunisia. The woman, who had also made previous attempts to smuggle tobacco into France, said she had suffered from financial problems but was given a fine and a six month suspended prison sentence.

A 16-year-old girl has been airlifted to hospital after a riding accident in Vidauban. According to reports, she suffered serious injuries after a fall the afternoon at an equestrian centre. An ambulance was called but she was taken by helicopter to the Sainte-Musse hospital in Toulon.

A man in his eighties has died after a fire in Frejus. The fire engulfed the caravan in which he was living. The fire, which completely destroyed the caravan, is thought at this stage to have been accidental.

Five French tourists are missing after a snowmobile accident in Quebec in Canada. According to reports, a group of eight tourists from France were crossing a frozen river about 225 km north of Quebec City with a Canadian guide when one or more of the snowmobiles fell through the ice. The guide was rescued by authorities but later died in hospital.

Police in the Var have been alarmed by infractions committed by motorists during several roadside checks over the past few days. In total 35 fines were issued for offences including not respecting a stop sign, using a mobile phone at the wheel and not wearing a seatbelt. Police have announced that several operations of this type will be carried out in the coming days in other parts of the region.

Traffic on the A50 motorway was severely disrupted this morning after a pile-up involving six cars. About 20 pompiers attended the incident near Castellet on the carriageway towards Toulon. Four people were injured.

A school in the Haute-Saône department was evacuated yesterday after a student brought a mortar shell to school. The 12 year old brought the armament to his class to illustrate a lesson on the first world war. He and his father had found the shell in a field. The school was evacuated and a security perimeter was set up around the building before bomb squad officers arrived to take the device away.

 

BUSINESS

Jaguar Land Rover has confirmed that it plans to cut 10% of its workforce at its Halewood plant on Merseyside, amounting to about 500 jobs. The company said that it would be moving to a different shift patern at Halewood which would deliver significant operating efficiencies. The Unite union said that the job losses are a "fresh blow to the car industry".

Burberry has said that its sales in Hong Kong halved in the 13 weeks to the 28th of December as a result of the continuing unrest. That contrasted sharply with mainland China, where revenues increased by what it called "a percentage in the mid-teens".

Sainsbury's has announced that its chief executive Mike Coupe will retire from the company. He's led Sainsbury's for almost six years, during which time he oversaw a failed attempt to merge with Asda. The head of Sainsbury's retail and operations, Simon Roberts, will take over.

Fashion retailer Ted Baker has said that it has overstated the value of its stock by £58m, which is over double the previous estimate. Last month it said the figure was up to £25m. The company did not elaborate on how it came to miscalculate the stock's value.

UK manufacturers reported a surge in optimism in the three months to January, according to a new CBI survey. The survey of 300 manufacturing firms reported that business optimism improved significantly in the quarter to January, at the fastest pace since April 2014.

 

SPORT

Tennis...Roger Federer is through to the third round of the Australian Open. He'll face Australia's John Millman, who he lost to at the US Open in 2018. Novak Djokovic is also through to the next round, as is Serena Williams.

Cycling... Chris Froome is set to return to competitive racing in February at the UAE Tour, eight months after a high-speed crash. The Team Ineos rider is training again after being seriously injured during a race last June. He'll compete at the UAE Tour from 23 - 29 February.

Rugby Union....  Wales will be without Liam Williams for their 2020 Six Nations opener against Italy on the 1st of February. Wales boss Wayne Pivac says that Williams must wait until at least the second round when they travel to Dublin to face Ireland. He hasn't played since injuring his ankle at the World Cup.

Motorsports... Formula 1 is holding an online auction of memorabilia and experiences to raise money to help those affected by the Australian bushfires. F1 said it "felt the need to help those affected in the worst-hit areas". The proceeds are going to four organisations helping support victims - Red Cross Australia, County Fire Authority Victoria, the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal and the WWF Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund. The auction is taking place at f1authentics.com

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