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UK faces travel chaos as unions warn strikes could continue “indefinitely’



The UK’s rail network is once again in complete chaos due to fresh strikes that began Thursday, with union bosses warning the dispute could continue “indefinitely” unless their demands are met.

Thousands of workers across the UK kicked off a four-day strike due to long-running disputes over working conditions and unfair pay.

Commuters across the country, including the capital London, have been advised not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

Workers taking part in the industrial action are largely from Network Rail, Transport for London, London Buses and other transport services and are members of a number of unions.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, accused the government of pursuing a “deliberate policy of prolonging rail disputes for political reasons.”

In a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, he said the government was using “taxpayers’ money to bail out private train companies,” having doled out over £120 million ($143 million) so far, according to the union’s calculation.

“Using taxpayers’ money to satisfy the anti-union agenda of the Tory party and seek to break the trade unions is shameful and means the dispute will be prolonged indefinitely as the train companies don’t lose a penny as a result of the industrial action and therefore have no incentive to settle the disputes,” said Lynch.

“At the moment, the only way we’ve ever achieved anything as a union is by the withdrawal of our labor. That’s the only way that a working person has any strength is by collective bargaining and collective use of our ability to withdraw our labor,” said Chris Mortimer, the RMT union representative for Kings Cross.

“We don’t have the big money that comes due. And the only thing we have as individuals is the right to say we will not work under these conditions. The right to withdraw labor is from fundamental parts of being a member of the union,” he added.

NORTH LONDON: Tube trains stand at Northfields Train Depot as train strikes hit services again

Earlier, the RMT head said Network Rail had “not made any improvement on their previous pay offer and the train operating companies have not offered us anything new.”

He said officials were holding “secret negotiations with the government about cutting costs by slashing jobs and undermining working conditions and pensions.”

“Network Rail is also threatening to impose compulsory redundancies and unsafe 50% cuts to maintenance work if we did not withdraw strike action. The train operating companies have put driver-only operations on the table along with ransacking our members’ terms and conditions,” he added.

In addition to Thursday’s industrial action, members of the RMT and Unite unions will walk out of London Underground tube stations and bus depots Friday in a separate dispute over pay.

On Saturday, railway workers including train drivers, conductors and platform staff, alongside members from the London United bus routes, will stage a walkout that will further disrupt travel plans for many on the weekend.

Shapps has condemned the mass industrial action and blamed its participants for causing unnecessary disruptions to millions of commuters who rely on transport services to go to work and visit family and friends.

“It’s clear, from their coordinated approach that the unions are hell-bent on causing as much misery as possible to the very same taxpayers who stumped up £600 ($716) per household to ensure not a single rail worker lost their job during the (coronavirus) pandemic,” he said.

“Sadly, union chiefs have short memories and will be repaying this act of good faith by ruining millions of hard-working people’s summer plans. Businesses too will suffer, with the capital’s leisure and tourism sectors, which have been banking on that summer trade, set to lose millions – a particularly cruel blow, given how hard many worked to stay afloat during successive summers of lockdown,” he added.

Unions leading the mass strike, however, argue that their workers are being severely affected by the cost-of-living crisis, with inflation reaching a 40-year high of 10% and real wages seeing a sharp drop.

In June, a mass walkout by members of the RMT union caused one of the UK’s largest rail strikes in 30 years. (Anadolu Agency)

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Good sex secret to my long life — 102-year-old woman



•102-Years Old Joyce Jackman
A 102-year-old British woman, identified as Joyce Jackman, has attributed her longevity to good sex.

Jackman, who celebrated her 102nd birthday on May 9, stated that “good sex and good sherry” leads to long-term satisfaction, NY Post reports.

According to her, a combination of both has helped her live for over a century.

Speaking about her birthday celebration, the centenarian said, “I had such a lovely day.

“I can’t believe I’m 102. It must be all the chocolate I eat that’s helped!”

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Arrested Asiana Airlines passenger gives reason for opening plane door midair



The Asiana Airlines plane landed at Daegu with its door open

A man who opened an emergency exit on an Asiana Airlines flight in mid-air felt “suffocated” and wanted to get off quickly, South Korean police said on Saturday.

The plane was carrying nearly 200 passengers as it approached the runway on Friday at Daegu International Airport, about 240 kilometres (149 miles) southeast of Seoul, on a domestic flight.

When the plane was around 200 meters (650 feet) above ground, the man who police said was in his 30s without providing further details, opened the exit door.

The passenger was taken in by Daegu police for questioning and told officers he had been “under stress after losing a job recently”.

“He felt the flight was taking longer than it should have been and felt suffocated inside the cabin,” a Daegu police detective told AFP.

“He wanted out quickly”.

The passenger faces up to 10 years in prison for violating aviation safety laws.

A video clip shot by a nearby passenger showed wind ripping through the open door, with fabric seat-backs and passengers’ hair flapping wildly as some people shouted in surprise.

Another video shared on social media showed passengers sitting in the emergency exit row next to an open door being buffeted by strong winds.

A dozen passengers were taken to hospital after experiencing breathing difficulties but there were no major injuries or damage, according to the transport ministry.

“It was chaos with people close to the door appearing to faint one by one and flight attendants calling out for doctors on board,” a 44-year-old passenger told Yonhap.

“I thought the plane was blowing up. I thought I was going to die like this.”

A transport ministry official told AFP that this was “the first such incident” they were aware of in Korean aviation history.

Experts say South Korea’s aviation industry has a solid safety record

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UK Universities reject new policy against International Students



In a statement on Tuesday, the UK International (UUK), a body of universities across the UK, said that the policy was a threat to the country’s economy and requested the government to consider the issues.

The new policy, which was intended to tame the influx of immigrants, had stated that international students (except PhD and research scholars) would no longer be able to bring family members with them starting in 2024 and that international students would be stopped from switching from the student visa route to a work visa until their studies have been completed.

“The UUK director, Jamie Arrowsmith, said “International students make an invaluable contribution to our universities and to the UK’s economy. Building on the government’s explicit commitments and ambitions, which were clearly set out in the international education strategy, we have seen significant growth since 2019.”
“Our research shows that international students make a huge economic contribution to the UK, with a single cohort delivering a total benefit of £41.9 billion.”“We also know that the public is overwhelmingly supportive of the international students we attract – just nine percent of people think we should be discouraging international students from choosing the UK.”

Mr Arrowsmith added, “while the vast majority of students will be unaffected by proposals that limit the ability to be accompanied by dependents, more information is needed on the programmes that are in scope before a proper assessment of the impact can be made.

“We, therefore, urge the government to work with the sector to limit and monitor the impact on particular groups of students – and on universities, which are already under serious financial pressures. The review process that has been announced must consider these issues.”

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