London tube workers threaten Easter strike over pay and working hours

Up to two million commuters and tourists are facing travel disruption in London after transport unions threatened mass strike action despite being offered a pay rise and a cut to the working week.

Members of the main unions representing Tube drivers, station workers and support staff are proposing the first all-out strike on the London Underground for almost five years.

The action, led by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and the train drivers’ union Aslef, threatens to lead to the complete shutdown of the Tube, which is used by about two million passengers a day.

Aslef, which represents 2,500 drivers, has already started balloting its members, with the result due in a fortnight. The RMT will ballot its 10,000-strong membership in the capital in the coming weeks.

It raises the prospect of a co-ordinated strike as early as April in a move that could be timed to hit

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London firms sending staff home amid coronavirus fears

Three firms in London have now asked staff to work from home as a precaution against coronavirus.

Oil giant Chevron has asked 300 staff not to come into its office in Canary Wharf “for the time being”.

Crossrail, which shares the same building as Chevron, and media firm OMD, based in central London, have also asked staff to stay away.

The real estate company that manages Canary Wharf suggested the firms had reacted with “an abundance of caution”.

It “strongly encouraged” its tenants to adhere to advice from Public Health England, which says there is no need to send staff home, as most possible cases turn out to be negative.

PHE says even if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus they do not recommend closing the workplace.

In the UK, there have been 7,132 coronavirus tests carried out since the outbreak began to spread beyond China in January.


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Warning of wedding dress shortage in UK as China shuts factories

A shortage of wedding dresses in the UK could be one of the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, MPs have heard.

Labour’s Chris Bryant told the House of Commons how “many wedding dresses in this country are designed in this country but made in China”.

He described how many wedding dress producers – including those in his Rhondda constituency – have “found it really difficult because the factories have been closed in China” as the country battles to contain the virus.

Mr Bryant, who is married to Jared Cranney, joked to MPs how he had “married many women in my time… when I was a vicar!”; as he warned of the “very time sensitive” nature of wedding dress supply.

Calling on the government to provide financial support to affected firms, Mr Bryant added: “There’s a real danger to many of these businesses that they’re going to suffer enormous financial loss,

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Farmers say UK would be ‘insane’ to let in chlorinated chicken

Farming leaders have said it would be “insane” to sign a trade deal that allows the import of food that would be illegal to produce in the UK, such as chlorinated chicken.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) president, Minette Batters, said allowing these imports would be “morally bankrupt”.

The NFU called for rules on minimum standards for imports to be made law.

Downing Street said food standards would be protected in any trade deal.

‘Bottom rung’

At the NFU’s annual conference on Tuesday, Ms Batters said: “This isn’t just about chlorinated chicken. This is about a wider principle.

“We must not tie the hands of British farmers to the highest rung of the standards ladder while waving through food imports which may not even reach the bottom rung.”

She said: “To sign up to a trade deal which results in opening our ports, shelves and fridges to food which would

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Touting couple who made millions from reselling tickets are jailed

Two touts who made at least £11m selling tickets for concerts by artists such as Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift have been jailed, after they were found guilty of fraud at a landmark trial.

Peter Hunter and David Smith, trading as Ticket Wiz and BZZ, used multiple identifies and bots to harvest hundreds of tickets to gigs and West End shows such as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

The pair, who conducted their business via secondary ticketing websites including Viagogo and StubHub, were found guilty of fraud earlier this month.

Hunter was jailed for four years at Leeds Crown Court on Monday while Smith, his husband, was given a 30-month custodial sentence.

Hunter was first exposed by a Guardian Newspaper investigation into touts and their relationship with so-called “secondary ticketing” websites, which allow people to resell tickets and take a commission on the price, which is often vastly inflated.

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