Evening Update Wednesday 5 April 2023

Unions have been meeting with French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne before tomorrow's day of industrial action against pension reform. The meeting with the inter-union group of the largest unions this morning lasted for less than an hour. According to the unions, they demanded the withdrawal of the pension reform legislation, saying that it was the only democratic way forward. The Prime Minister refused, saying that she wished to maintain the text of the legislation. The unions described the meeting as "a failure". Elisabeth Borne described it as an "important" meeting, even if disagreements on retirement age didn't allow an "in depth" discussion.

Disruption to train services is expected from this evening because of the industrial action. Nationally, one in two TER trains are expected to be running on average tomorrow as well as three out of four TGVs. No trams will run in Nice and some bus lines will be disrupted. Unions have also said that they expect about 20% of primary school teachers to be on strike tomorrow.

Two people have been charged following alleged criminal activity in the Moulins district of Nice. The public prosecutor said that two others have also been placed  under assisted witness status.

President Macron has arrived in China on a state visit. He is being accompanied by EU Commission leader Ursula von der Layen. They are scheduled to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping tomorrow. Subjects discussed are expected to include the Ukraine war and the increasingly difficult trade relationship between the European Union and China.

An SNCF employee has died after drinking a substance he apparently found in abandoned baggage. The incident happened at a railway station in Saint-Etienne. Reports say that a traveller handed a bag containing two containers to the employee and he then tasted a substance in one of the containers. He couldn't be revived by emergency services. The substance is currently undergoing analysis.

One person is missing after a fishing boat got into difficulties in the English channel off Barfleur in Normandy. The Maritime Prefect of the Channel and the North Sea said that a helicopter and national marine ship had been involved in the search. Separately, the Prefect said that 28 people adrift at sea this morning off Boulogne-sur-Mer had been rescued in an operation under the coordination of CROSS Gris-Nez. Four people, suffering from slight hypothermia, were taken care of on board then transferred to the emergency services on land.



Business activity in the UK services sector rose in March for the second month running and there was a robust and accelerated increase in new orders but higher wages lead to another month of strong cost inflation, according to a widely watched survey of purchasing managers. S&P Global said that UK service providers reported a sustained expansion of business activity during March, following the swift return to growth seen in February. The recovery was cemented by the fastest increase in new order volumes for a year, which reflected greater confidence among clients in both domestic and international markets. It said that the latest figures signalled the strongest rise in new export sales since the current survey began in September 2014.

Talks between Royal Mail and postal workers have ended without agreement being reached. The two sides met at arbitration service ACAS but the talks finished in the early hours of this morning. The lack of agreement raises the prospect of further indstrial action by postal workers in their long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

Amazon has announced that it's closing it's UK-based online shop Book Depository. Book Depository said that it will be closing on 26 April. It was founded in 2004 and bought by Amazon in 2011 and has offices in London, Gloucester, Madrid, Cape Town and Chennai, with fulfilment centres in the UK and Australia.



Cricket… England opener Jason Roy has joined IPL side Kolkata Knight Riders. Roy last played in the IPL in 2021, scoring 150 runs in five games for Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Rugby Union...Huw Bevan has been appointed Welsh Rugby Union interim performance director. He replaces Nigel Walker, who became interim chief executive in January. Bevan joins from USA Rugby, where he's been since 2018.

Football... Nottingham Forest say Steve Cooper remains manager and that they "wish to end the speculation and the false and disruptive reporting" about his job.The club are without a win in eight games and are just above the relegation zone.



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