French and Riviera News Wednesday 11th January 2023

News

Calls for protests following radical overhaul of France’s pension system - There have been calls for protests following the French Prime Minister’s announcement of the radical overhaul of France’s pension payments which aims at raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030. Leading trades unions - the CFDT, CGT, FO, CFE-CGC, CFTC, Unsa, FSU and Solidaires - responded to Elisabeth Borne's proposals with a call for a day of strikes and demonstrations on 19 January.

Borne said the minimum retirement age to be entitled to a full pension will be gradually increased by three months every year, starting this year. People will need to have worked for at least 43 years to get a full pension, starting from 2027. She added that those who started working before the age of 20 will be able to get early retirement. Specific categories of workers such as police officers and firefighters will also be able to retire earlier. Under the current system, all French workers receive a state pension. The government argues that on average French people are living longer than before and therefore need to work longer to make the pension system financially sustainable.  French MPs will debate the details of the measures in the National Assembly next month.

Survey - A recent Elabe survey for BFMTV has shown that 46% of those questioned say they are ready "to mobilize" against the government's plan "in the coming weeks." According to the poll carried out after the announcement of the government project by Elisabeth Borne on Tuesday, 60% of French people say they "support" or feel "sympathy" with regard to the mobilization against the pension reform. The French believe by a large majority (68%) that "the government has not listened and has remained on its positions without making any significant compromises" with trade unions and political organisations.

Bill for the acceleration of renewable energies – Meanwhile, the National Assembly on Tuesday adopted a bill for the acceleration of renewable energies. The bill aims to reduce installation times and catch up with France's significant delay in terms of renewable energies: 19.3% of gross final energy consumption, well below its European neighbours.

End of strike action from laboratories - Private medical laboratories and France’s Union of Health Insurance Funds have signed an agreement on Tuesday ending a three-month dispute marked by several strike movements. A press release announced the signature of amendment 11 to the national convention. The agreement will see the implementation of financial measures provided for by the social security financing law for 2023 namely 250 million euros in savings.

Local

Man stabbed to death in Marseille city centre - A 53-year-old man has been found stabbed to death in the city centre of Marseille. The victim was found by his wife in a pool of blood on Rue Jean Galland in the Panier district, in the 2nd arrondissement on Tuesday evening. His attacker who is in a critical condition in hospital reportedly fled the scene and slit his own throat as police tried to arrest him. According to the police "the incident took place at the victim's home”. For the moment, the link between the victim and his attacker is not known nor is the reason for the attack.

Stabbing in Nice - Meanwhile it was in Nice on Tuesday that a man in his forties was taken to hospital in a critical condition after being stabbed in the north of the city. The victim was found in the car park of the line 2 tramway Boulevard Henri-Sappia shortly after 6.30pm on Tuesday evening. An investigation is underway.

Reinforcement sent to Var region - France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has sent a unit of mobile officers as a reinforcement to the Var region.  About 70 police officers from the Republican Security Company (CRS) have arrived in the department to support local actions in the fight against crime.

Road accident - A motorcyclist has been seriously injured in an accident on the dual carriageway in Nice on Tuesday evening. The accident involving a car and a motorcycle saw traffic come to a standstill eastbound between 8 and 9pm. The 39-year-old victim was taken to hospital in a critical condition. Police have opened an investigation into the cause of the collision.

Driver involved in fatal accident in Monaco placed in pre-trial detention - Following the fatal accident on Saturday evening at the exit of the IM2S tunnel on the Boulevard du Larvotto in Monaco, the driver of the SUV-type Mercedes has been placed in pre-trial detention. On Tuesday the public prosecutor's office of Monaco said that the driver, who hit the 54-year-old married father of two and valet porter at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel who was driving a two-wheeler at the time of the collision, was reportedly drunk. According to police reports the driver of the SUV, of foreign nationality and residing in France, showed outward signs of drunkenness, and was arrested and placed in police custody on "counts of manslaughter, driving in a state of obvious intoxication, refusal to submit to a blood alcohol test and refusal to submit to a screening test for a narcotic substance or product".

Nice Acropolis - The planned demolition of the Nice Acropolis has been delayed by the order of a court. Work to demolish the structure was to have started shortly but has now been delayed by about two months. The order was made to allow the city of Nice to meet its commitments to employees at the Acropolis.

Winter Sales – Finally, looking for a bargain? The Winter Sales start today in France and will run until February 7th.

Business

According to the latest forecast from the World Bank the global economy is "perilously close to falling into recession".  It expects the world economy to grow by just 1.7% this year - a sharp decrease from the 3% it predicted in June. The report blames a number of factors stemming from Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the impact of the pandemic. The effects of higher interest rates are picked out as the key challenge for policy makers to overcome.

The owner of Japanese fashion chain Uniqlo says it will raise the pay of staff in its home country by up to 40%. Fast Retailing says the new pay policy will apply to full-time employees at its headquarters and company stores in Japan from the beginning of March. Last week Japan's prime minister called on firms to put up wages to help people struggling with rising prices. It comes as salaries in the country remain flat even as inflation is going up at its fastest rate in decades.

The economic secretary to the Treasury has told MPs in the UK that the government is considering introducing a national cryptocurrency or "digital pound". Andrew Griffith said the “UK was committed to becoming a world crypto hub”.  The EU has set out the world's first comprehensive set of rules for regulating crypto markets which are due to receive final approval in the coming weeks and come into effect in 2024. Mr Griffith said the UK rules could be broader, to include decentralised finance, and everyone would benefit from greater transparency.

And - The American fast-food brand Popeyes is to arrive in France. A competitor of KFC, the fast-food chain from New Orleans in the American state of Louisiana will open its first restaurant in the Gare du Nord district of Paris on February 1st. With his famous "Popeyes Chicken Sandwich". The fried chicken burger, a specialty of the brand like the "Whopper" is for Burger King, has already won over millions of consumers across the Atlantic. Popeyes boasts a chicken marinated for twelve hours in a mixture of traditional spices, hand-breaded and restaurant-fried. In France, the recipe will be slightly different. To seduce French consumers, Popeyes will offer an adapted version of its menus.

Created in 1972, the company celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last year. It now belongs to the Canadian group Restaurant Brands International, which also owns Burger King. Popeyes has more than 3,900 restaurants in around thirty countries, obviously in the United States but also in Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom – the brand has also established itself in Asia. After the Gare du Nord, another Parisian establishment will open its doors in two or three months, then other restaurants will open their doors this summer in Lyon and Marseille. The objective is to open 300 franchise restaurants by 2030.

Sport

Football – Marcus Rashford scored two late goals to take his tally for the season to 15 and put Manchester United into the League Cup semi-finals at the expense of League One Charlton at Old Trafford winning 3-0. Meanwhile Newcastle beat Leicester 2-0 to also reach semis.

This evening in the League Cup Nottingham Forest play Wolves and Southampton play Manchester City.

And - Just over three weeks after breaking the hearts of France supporters in the World Cup final, Argentina skipper Lionel Messi looks set to return to Ligue 1 action for Paris Saint-Germain against Angers at the Parc des Princes tonight. The 35-year-old returned to training on 4 January but was deemed unfit to play in the last-64 Coupe de France tie at Chateauroux on 6 January. Mbappé is expected to miss the fixture against bottom club Angers who have gained only four of a possible 24 points on the road.

Rugby Union - Former England and British & Irish Lions back David Duckham MBE has died at the age of 76. Duckham made his international debut against Ireland in 1969 and won 36 England caps, with the last of those against Scotland in 1976. He played at wing and centre and was part of the victorious 1971 British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

Weather

Sunny intervals with a moderate breeze. Highs of 13 degrees in Monaco, 14 degrees in Nice and Menton and 15 degrees in Saint Tropez and 16 degrees in Toulon. This evening going down to 6 degrees with clear skies.

The outlook for Thursday and Friday. Fine with clear skies. Highs of between 13-16 degrees with a gentle breeze.

Sunrise       08.02hr

Sunset        17.13hr

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