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19 November: news in brief

FirstGroup directors branded ‘immature’ as shares fall

THERE is new turmoil at rail franchise operator FirstGroup, with a major investor branding its directors ‘immature’. Robert Tchenguiz has allied himself with 10 per cent shareholder Coast Capital to demand that First sells off its US businesses. First has already been challenged by some major shareholders to concentrate on its successful school bus services in the USA, but its attempt to sell the long distance coach business Greyhound has been unsuccessful so far. It has now written down the value of Greyhound by more than £124 million, in a bid to attract buyers. Shares in First fell 20 per cent after news of the write down broke, but have since staged a partial recovery.

RMT steps up toilets campaign

THE RMT has pledged to campaign for better toilets in workplaces, after it published figures showing that 13 per cent of workers have no access to toilets while they are at work. One comment quoted by the union was ‘Whilst it is not forced, there is almost an expectation that the nearest bankside bush will suffice.’ The union’s general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘These figures paint a horrific picture of the transport industry which seems stuck in the 19th century in its attitude to toilets and welfare provision for workers rather than the 21st century where every worker is guaranteed immediate access to clean, maintained and well stocked toilet facilities and moreover unrestricted time away from their normal duties to use them. There is also very clearly blatant discrimination going on here and the bottom line is money.’

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