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London Underground workers are to stage four strikes, including one on Boxing Day, in a row over bank holiday pay.

Aslef said its Tube members will walk out for 24 hours on December 26, January 16 and February 3 and 13 after failing to agree payments for working on Boxing Day.

Around 2,200 Aslef members were balloted, with 92% of those who voted backing a campaign of industrial action.

 

The owner of the Daily Mail says a resilient performance at its national newspapers helped offset a challenging year for its regional titles.

Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) said the nationals arm benefited from a record year for the Metro free newspaper while the Mail on Sunday became the biggest selling Sunday newspaper following the demise of the News of the World.

Revenues at the division were 2% lower at £862 million in the year to October 2, which DMGT said represented a resilient performance. The division's operating profits fell 15% to £76 million after it absorbed rising printing costs and it was impacted by greater promotional activity as newspapers competed to win News of the World readers.

A strong performance from its business-to-business division, which includes publications such as Euromoney Institutional Investor and marketing arm DMG Events, also helped offset "challenging" conditions at its regional newspapers.

Group underlying profits rose 3% to £237 million on revenues up 1% to £2 billion. Bottom-line profits declined 14% to £125 million.

Its Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday newspapers both saw their circulation revenues fall although they grew their market share. Free newspaper Metro had its strongest year yet, with record profits and revenues up 14%.

 

 

The "forest boy" of Berlin is refusing to have his photograph released despite investigators being flooded with calls from all over the world from people saying they are related to him.

Ray, 17, who speaks fluent English, arrived in the city on September 5 claiming to have walked for two weeks.

He told officials he had lived in the woods with his father for the previous five years - but set off alone after his father died in a fall and he buried him.

The mystery resulted in Berlin police sending Ray's fingerprints and photograph to foreign police forces in a bid to identify him. Detectives also called upon Interpol, the world's largest police organisation, to help.

But so far there have been no significant leads, police said today. And Ray, who is being looked after by a legally-appointed guardian, is refusing to have his photograph released publicly.

"There are of course many questions," said Berlin police spokeswoman Miriam Tauchmann. "At the moment he doesn't want us to put a picture of him in the public because he wants to live like a normal teenager and we have to respect that."

 

Photo bu Southern Driver

 

The number of job losses threatened at local authorities because of Government spending cuts has topped the 140,000 mark, according to a study.

The GMB union said 203 councils had now issued official warnings of redundancies after having their budgets slashed by central Government.

The Local Government Association warned last year that 140,000 jobs could be lost, but the GMB said this figure had already been passed.

Most of the local authorities in the study had issued a 90-day statutory consultation warning of job cuts, said the union.

Councils have given notice that they plan to delete vacant posts and seek volunteers for early retirements and redundancy, according to GMB officials.

Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, said: "The Government is deliberately creating unemployment on a scale that we have not seen before.

"As a direct consequence of the Government spending plans, the cumulative number of job losses is 140,456 for 203 authorities in Britain. To that total has to be added the job losses in the rest of the public sector.

Any suggestion that frontline services for the most vulnerable people in our society are not being affected by cuts of this scale is simply nonsense.The impact for those who depend on these services will be devastating. Some services like meals on wheels in some authorities are now only available to those at death's door.

"In the current circumstances it is hard to see the private sector creating enough new jobs to make up for these job losses. The money that people in work have to spend is being badly affected by the hike in VAT, high fuel prices and other inflationary pressures on the economy as pay is not keeping up with inflation.

 

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"Pay freezes in the public sector and the threatened increase in pension contributions will make matters worse."

 Northcliffe Media plans to cut up to 95 jobs and close or merge a number of the weekly papers it publishes across Essex, Kent and Surrey, as part of proposals to amalgamate subediting in a single centre.