Evening Update Tuesday 17 December

Several areas of Nice experienced power cuts this morning and this lunchtime. Unions protesting as part of the national day of industrial action claimed responsibility for the outages. Power cuts were reported at the main railway station, at the prefecture, the Nice Etoile shopping centre, the courthouse and in the old town. Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi said that the power cuts were unacceptable  and called them “outright sabotage”. He demanded the prosecution of the perpetrators of the cuts. Electricity company Enedis said in a statement this afternoon that all supplies had been restored to customers and that it  firmly condemns what it called “these malicious acts on the public electricity distribution network”.  A demonstration took place in central Nice today, with police using tear gas to contain a small section of protestors. Unions said that the electricity cuts were in response to the use of tear gas on their members and, according to media reports, threatened to cut off “half the city” unless they received an apology from the Prefect. Unions put the number of protestors at 12,000 while police said 4,200 were involved. The demonstration started this morning at the main railway station and moved to the Place Garibaldi and the Place Massena. A small number of demonstrators tried to force their way onto the Voie Mathis and were restrained by police, which was when the tear gas was used.

In Draguignan, about 1,000 demonstrators took to the streets this morning and police dislodged about 50 protestors who were blockading the prison. Demonstrations were also held in Brignoles and Toulon. Night duty police are planning to sound sirens in front of the prefecture in Nice tonight, as well as at the prefecture and sub-prefecture of the Var. The national secretary of the Union SGP FO Yves Lefebvre has called on those officers on night duty to congregate in front of Prefectures across France tonight and release their sirens. As regards transport in our region, no trams are circulating in Nice, the bus network is severely disrupted and about 3 out of 10 trains are running.

Nationally, industrial action is taking place across France today with transport workers, truck drivers, teachers and hospital staff protesting against both working condition and pension reforms. According to unions, an estimated 350,000 people took part in marches in Paris today.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has called for employer and trade union representatives to meet him tomorrow for talks aimed at ending the recent disruption to transport. Meanwhile, the SNCF have today released details of train services from the 19th to the 22nd of December, saying that 50 to 60 per cent of TGV’s are expected to run over the weekend.

A large fire has destroyed over 40 boats in Marseille. The fire broke out in a dry boat storage area at l'Estaque in the 16th arrondissement late last night. Several hundred boats in total were stored in the area and about 50 firefighters managed to stop the fire spreading to the other boats.

21 parked cars were set on fire in Arles in the Bouche du Rhone overnight last night. No injuries were reported. The fires are believed to have been started deliberately and a police investigation has been launched.

A woman is in custody after threatening a bank employee in Marseille this morning. The woman entered the bank in the 3rd arrondissement and asked if her Christmas bonus had been paid into her account. When an employee said that there had been no payment, the woman returned with a bottle of flammable liquid which she sprayed over the employee and threatened to ignite it. A security guard intervened and police were called.

Parts of South West France remain on an Orange weather alert due to flooding with roads flooded and some closed to traffic. The Charent-Maritime and Landes departments remain on an orange alert but two other departments in the west have just been removed from Meteo France alerts. The bad weather has already claimed several lives in the region as authorities advise motorist to be particularly careful and to not attempt to pass through flooded areas.



The UK's manufacturing sector is finishing 2019 "on a low note", according to the CBI. Its latest Industrial Trends Survey found output volumes in the three months to December fell at the fastest pace since the financial crisis. The survey of 289 manufacturers found that total order books remained weak, while export orders were worse than in November.

Boeing will temporarily halt production of its troubled 737 Max airliner in January, the manufacturer said. Production of the jet had continued despite the model being grounded for nine months after two deadly crashes.

Unemployment in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since 1975.The number of people out of work fell by 13,000 to 1.281 million in the 3 months to October, according to the Office for National Statistics.

A South Korean court has sentenced Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Sang-hoon to 18 months in prison for sabotaging labour union activities. Lee and about 25 other defendants were convicted of violating labour union-related laws.



Football.. Paul Pogba's Manchester United comeback is set to be delayed after he missed two days' training because of illness. The France midfielder was expected to return to training this week after recovering from the ankle injury but his symptoms worsened on Sunday. Pogba has played only six times this season, having required surgery to correct his ankle problem.

The first League Cup quarter final is being played in England tonight. Aston Villa play Liverpool.

Cricket… Scotland are set to face New Zealand twice as well as Australia at The Grange next June. It was announced in September that New Zealand would travel to Scotland for the first time since 2008. Rather than playing a solitary one-day international, they will now play twice - a T20 international on 10 June and an ODI two days later. A Scotland against Australia ODI  follows on 29 June.





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