Gallic Heston Blumenthal to overhaul French school mealsView the full article in the Times here >>
Hotels and restaurants exploit loopholes to exploit staff, says report
A shock report says staff working in hotels, restaurants, care homes and cleaning figure prominently among more than two million people in Britain forced to endure "intolerably poor working lives" who are subjected to daily exploitation and abuse from employers. The report, Hard Work, Hidden Lives, is the first from the TUC's Commission on Vulnerable Employment, which said it was stunned by the extent of the exploitation. It concluded that legal loopholes allowed employers to treat staff badly and trap them in a cycle of poverty and injustice. Reported abuses included agency staff working long hours for less pay than permanent staff without any paid holidays or sick leave; workers earning just £2 an hour for 70-hour weeks who dared not take time off when sick; and chambermaids who had to be available from 8am every day but were not paid for extra hours if rooms were vacated in late morning. - 4 May, View the full article in the Observer here >>
Pubs among sectors leading surge in company failures
The number of companies seeking protection has risen sharply in the first three months of the year, with pubs, travel companies and retailers among the hardest-hit sectors. New figures from the Government's Insolvency Service show a total of 858 firms in England and Wales entered administration between January and March, 54% more than in the previous quarter and 22% more than in the first three months of 2007. The number going bankrupt grew by 25%. Experts expect the trend to accelerate in late 2008 and into 2009 as the credit squeeze dampens demand as well as credit. In England and Wales, 2,125 companies went into liquidation in the first quarter of the year, 25.4% more than during the same period of 2006, although the number of compulsory liquidations dropped by 22%. - 3 May, View the full article in the Times here >>
Urban Splash revives Morecambe's famous Midland hotel Northern property developer Urban Splash has rescued the famous Midland hotel in Morecambe, Lancashire, from years of neglect and dilapidation. The 44-bedroom boutique hotel, which it acquired in 2003 for around £4m, is expected to reopen in June after an £11m resuscitation and had generated £450,000-worth of advance bookings by March. The Modernist hotel was commissioned by the London Midland and Scottish Railway Company in 1932 and designed by architect Oliver Hill as a three-storey, curved building with its convex side towards the sea. It was notable for its murals by Eric Gill and Eric Ravilious. Urban Splash has restored the famous Gill's Odysseus mural - now worth £2m - which has not been seen in the hotel since 1992. Interpol traced the mural to a van near Pontefract shortly after the 1999 death of Les Whittingham, who bought the hotel in 1989 at auction for £600,000. - 4 May, View the full Observer article here >>
By Angela Frewin
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