Evening Update Tuesday 7 March 2023

Demonstrators have gathered across France as part of a national day of industrial action against pension reforms. In Nice a march started at the Place Garibaldi and proceeded down the Avenue Jean Medecin where several smoke bombs were used but the demonstration was reported to be peaceful. As is normal on days of industrial action, estimates of those taking part differed substantially. In Marseille, 30,000 demonstrators took part according to police, but 245,000 according to unions. The French government said that about 32% of teachers on average were taking part in the strikes, whereas unions have said at least 60% were taking part.

Public transport has been severely disrupted today. Nationally 80% of TGV and Ouigo services have been cancelled. Local TER services have also been disrupted. Details of specific services can be found on the SNCF Assistant app and on www.sncf.com Unions said that 39% of rail workers were on strike at midday today.

The industrial action has been affecting a wide range of sectors. Unions said that two terminals which import Liquified Natural Gas in the Bouches-du-Rhone had been shut down for a week beginning yesterday evening because of industrial action. Unions said that the exits of all fuel refineries across France had also been blocked. However, representatives of the service station sector say there is no risk of fuel shortages because supplies have been stockpiled.

Nice Mayor and President of the Nice Cote d'Azur Metropolis Christian Estrosi has held a meeting with Transport Minister Clement Beaune. The minister described the meeting as "very fruitful" and said that massively investing in public transport is a "shared priority".

Only 6 new positive cases of Covid-19 were detected in Monaco last week, according to the government's weekly Covid update. The incidence rate continued to be very low at 15 per 100,000 people, down slightly from 18 the previous week. As of Sunday evening, just one person was hospitalized at the Princess Grace Hospital. No one was being treated in intensive care.

Firefighters have extinguished a blaze in Vence this morning. Reports say that two cars caught fire in the basement of a building on the avenue Rhin et Danube. The three storey building was evacuated and staff and pupils at a nearby nursery were confined as a precautionary measure. No injuries were reported.

 

BUSINESS

The South African economy contracted by a larger than expected 1.3% in the final quarter of last year. The economy has been affected by rolling power cuts, which have also become a major political issue in the country.

UK food retailer Greggs has said that it aims to open around 150 new bakeries in 2023 as part of expansion plans. Greggs said it would refurbish another 150 stores and relocate 40 others to larger sites. It also plans to extend the opening hours of some outlets and test 24-hour drive-through units. The company made profits of £148.3m last year.

Agriculture exports from Australia are forecast to be at the highest ever level. Exports are forecast to hit a record $75bn in the year to the end of June, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics. The Ukraine war has pushed up the price of commodities including wheat, Australia's biggest agricultural export.

 

SPORT

Football... Uefa is to refund Liverpool fans who had tickets for last year's Champions League final in Paris. Some fans were penned in and sprayed with tear gas outside the Stade de France last May. The move follows a recent independent report that found Uefa bears "primary responsibility" for the disruption before the game. Uefa said the refund covers all the Liverpool ticket allocation for the final.

Rugby Union... Four players have been added to the Scotland squad for Sunday's Six Nations match against Ireland. They are Simon Berghan, Scott Cumming, Rory Darge and Stafford McDowall.

 

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