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Greater Manchester bus staff ballot for strike action amid pay dispute

This comes as the North West braces for the biggest rail strike in thirty years

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Flickr & Unite the Union

Bus staff at Arriva in Greater Manchester and Merseyside are balloting for strike action amid a dispute in pay, Unite the Union has confirmed today. 

Over 1,800 members of staff are said to be involved in the dispute and, if industrial action is voted in, the strikes could begin as soon as July. 

The depots involved in the dispute are Birkenhead, Bolton, Bootle, Liverpool, Macclesfield, Manchester, Runcorn, Southport, Speke, St Helens, and Winsford.

Unite the Union says the dispute is a result of Arriva’s ‘pitifully low pay increases’ of 3% and 6%, which both saw reductions in sick pay and loss of Saturday enhanced pay. 

Flickr

According to the union, these pay increases are far below the current real inflation rate (RPI) of 11.1%.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Arriva can full afford to pay our members a fair rate of pay but it is choosing not to do so to boost its profits.”

Read More: Greater Manchester bus fares to be capped at £2 a journey from September as reform is fast-tracked

Unite regional officer Dave Roberts pointed out that while strike action would result in ‘considerable disruption for passengers throughout the North West‘, the dispute is ‘entirely of Arriva’s own making’.

He added: “Despite extensive negotiations it has failed to make an offer which is anywhere close to our members’ expectations.

“Even at this late stage strike action could still be avoided if Arriva returns to the negotiating table and makes a realistic pay offer.”

An Arriva spokesperson said: “We are fully committed to reaching an agreement with Unite for our North West staff and talks are ongoing.”

This comes as the North West braces itself for major travel disruption as a result of train strikes across a number of major operators, including Northern and TransPennine Express.

Network Rail has warned that half of Britain’s rail lines will be closed as strikes happen Tuesday 21st, Thursday 23rd and Saturday 25th June.

The ballot closes on Monday July 4th.

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Manchester named one of the worst places in UK for ‘dangerous drinking’

Manchester has been named the fourth most dangerous city in the UK for binge drinking

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Manchester has been named the fourth most dangerous city in the UK for binge drinking, according to a new study.

The Dangerous Drinking Report was conducted by private rehab clinic Delamere, and it has analysed eight different data points.

These include rates of alcoholism, alcohol deaths per 100,000 people, the number of bars, which were all analysed to reveal the most dangerous cities in the UK for drinking.


And according to this research, Manchester took fourth place on the ranking with a score of 17.1 out of a possible 80. 

Manchester had the second-highest number of bottomless drinking locations (77), five drinking events available, 2,040 alcohol-related hospital admissions between 2019-2020 and 209 bars and clubs. 

London was found to have the most dangerous drinking culture in the UK, with an overall score of 0 out of a possible 80. 

As the most populated city in the country, London had 26,580 alcohol-related hospital admissions recorded between 2019-2020, 190 bottomless drinking locations and 1,068 bars and nightclubs that all contributed to its ‘toxic’ drinking culture.

Delamere

Leeds came in second, with a score of 11 out of 80. Their bottomless drinks score was 0.8/10, 310 hospital admissions were documented between 2019-2020 and finally, there were 9,954 recorded alcohol dependency cases between 2018-2019. 

The Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities for Drinking Culture:

  1. London – 0/80 
  2. Leeds – 11/80 
  3. Bristol – 16.6/80 
  4. Manchester – 17.1/80
  5. Liverpool – 19.9/80
  6. Birmingham – 22.3/80
  7. Newcastle – 25.6/80 
  8. Nottingham – 31.1/80
  9. Sheffield -31.2/80
  10. Brighton -32/80

Read the full report here.

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Nadine Dorries compares herself to Wigan legend after embarrassing rugby mix up

Whoops…

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Nadine Dorries made a huge faux pas at a rugby league event this week, when she mixed up two different codes in the sport.

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport was at a Rugby League World Cup social impact event in St Helens, during which she confused league and union while giving a speech.

When discussing her favourite moment from rugby league, she mistakenly chose Jonny Wilkinson’s famous drop-goal – which led to England winning the 2003 rugby union World Cup – as her standout memory.

Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street / Flickr

Dorries told the audience: “I’ve always quite liked the idea of rugby league. My long standing memory is that 2003 drop-goal.

“I’ll let you into a secret, we were drinking Bloody Marys at the time, it was 11 o’clock in the morning, but wow, what a moment that was.

“I know from my limited watching that it’s an incredibly physical and sometimes brutal sport and it often ends up in a scrum, which actually reminds me very much of politics.

“I think we have a lot in common and given a lot of the media like to call me the prime minister’s attack dog, I wonder sometimes if I should give rugby a go.”

While rugby league is played across the country, it is most popular in Northern England –  especially Lancashire and Yorkshire where the game originated in the late 1800s.

She later addressed the mistake on Twitter, in a tweet in which she compared herself to a Wigan rugby league legend.

She wrote: “Like Jason Robinson I may have switched codes in my speech… Both league & union have a rich heritage in the UK.

“Obviously I’ve followed rugby league much less in my lifetime, but I’m looking forward to watching England (& all the home nations) in the RL World Cup this Autumn.”

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Heinz pulls products from shelves in Tesco over price row

Tesco has said it is more focused on keeping the cost of the weekly shop as low as possible

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Tesco PLC / Flickr & @AChangeAtATime / Twitter

Customers will be hard pressed to find certain Heinz products in Tesco following a row between the two companies over price hikes.

The food company has scaled back its supply to Tesco after the supermarket said it would not pass on its ‘unjustifiable price increases’ to its customers.

As a result of this, customers will find that a number of Heinz favourites such as baked beans, tinned soups and tomato ketchup will be absent from the shelves in Tesco supermarkets up and down the country.

According to The Grocer Magazine, products affected include Beanz 4x415g, Sticky Barbecue Sauce 500g, Salad Cream 605g, Baked Beans & Pork Sausages 200g, Beanz No Added Sugar 4x415g Snap Pots 4x200g, and Chicken Noodle Soup 400g.

Mike Mozart / Flickr

Heinz is just one of the manufacturers to announce a price increase during the cost of living crisis.

However, many supermarkets like Tesco are firm in keeping prices as low as reasonably possible for their customers, resulting in disputes with manufacturers.

Read More: Lidl launches new food label to help struggling families with cost of living crisis

A Tesco spokesperson told the magazine the retailer was ‘laser-focused on keeping the cost of the weekly shop in check, offering customers great value through our combination of Aldi Price Match, Low Everyday Prices and Clubcard Prices’.

They added: “With household budgets under increasing pressure, now more than ever we have a responsibility to ensure customers get the best possible value, and we will not pass on unjustifiable price increases to our customers.

Tesco PLC / Flickr

“We’re sorry that this means some products aren’t available right now, but we have plenty of alternatives to choose from, including Branston Baked Beans and our own-brand ranges, and we hope to have this issue resolved soon.”

In a statement, a Kraft Heinz spokesperson suggested price was at the heart of the issue, citing ‘today’s challenging economic environment – with commodity and production costs rising – many consumers are working within tight budgets’.

The statement added: “We always look at how we can provide value through price, size and packs so consumers can enjoy the products they love and trust at a price point that works within their budgets, without compromising on quality.”

Heinz said it was ‘working closely with Tesco to resolve the situation as quickly as possible’ and was ‘confident in a positive resolution’.

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