THE BRUTAL reality of working life in Britain was shown in two industrial tribunal cases revealed in the press last week. Joanne MacDonald, a former telesales worker, lost her baby after being sacked for being pregnant.
Boss David Rook had reduced Joanne to tears when she told him of her pregnancy. 'He told me he was horrified. He left me for about ten minutes, then came back and told me to leave,' said Joanne. 'He said it was because I couldn't meet my contractual hours, which wasn't true. I was devastated to be pregnant and sacked. I had the worries of finding another job and money worries.'
Four days later a routine scan showed the baby's heartbeat had stopped. Joanne won £11,500 damages after taking electronics firm Crimpterm to an industrial tribunal for unfair dismissal.
A housekeeper in Carlisle's Corby Castle also won her industrial tribunal against multimillionaire boss Edward Haughey. Linda Heaton worked long hours at Haughey's castle. On 7 December, the night of fraught preparations for a six-course hunting banquet, she fled the castle in tears.
Haughey claims she resigned on the spot and decided to dismiss her. But Linda explained to the tribunal that she was too upset at the news of her elderly mother getting cancer to carry on working.
Haughey had also interrogated her over a missing gold Rolls-Royce menu holder, that was later found in his other home in Northern Ireland. Linda was awarded £7,339 for wrongful dismissal.
Figure it out 238
is the amount House of Lords peers can claim for one day's subsistence and travel costs (£62), London accommodation (£124) and secretarial costs (£52). This compares to the £7.80 a day a 25 year old gets on Jobseeker's Allowance.
No 42 coming in a few years
HOW LONG have you waited for a bus? How about 75 years? The grandparents of someone I know moved into an estate in the North Downs in Coulsdon, Surrey, in 1927 when it was first built. They were promised a bus service within a year. So they waited. And waited. The buses finally started running last month.
Thanks to Colin Frost-Herbert
The rich are at the Gates
THE RICH in the US have increased their personal wealth over the last 12 months, according to Forbes magazine. The total net worth of the 400 richest in the US rose by 10 percent to hit $935 billion.
Microsoft boss Bill Gates is still the US's fattest cat at $46 billion. Microsoft have also spawned the US's third richest man, Paul Allen, who is worth $22 billion.
Berlusconi-friend or foe?
THOSE WHO defend Israel and its slaughter of the Palestinians accuse their critics of being anti-Semitic. But a Zionist organisation based in New York seems willing to forget about anti-Semitism in its desperate rush to back the warmonger George Bush.
The Anti-Defamation League is to give Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi a Distinguished Statesman Award. The league says the award is for Berlusconi's support of the US war in Iraq and his policies. Berlusconi is 'a friend, he's a good friend', said the league's national director.
Yet last week Berlusconi defended Italy's fascist leader Mussolini, who began persecuting Jews in 1938.
When murder is a bonus
A POLICE officer in Cambridgeshire boasted to a murder victim's family about how much overtime the case had made him. He also took them to the wrong murder scene. That is just one of the almost 1,000 serious complaints upheld against the police last year.
The watchdog that looks into complaints said the rising rate was 'significant and unprecedented'. The total number of complaints is much higher. The Police Complaints Authority says it only upheld 26 percent of all those reported.
The authority also found that sexist officers were allowed to keep their jobs when they should have been sacked. PC David Wyvill is another example of an officer you wouldn't want to run into. Colin May had been hit by a police car as officers chased him. As Colin lay injured PC Wyvill threatened to tread on his broken leg. The officer was fined £500.
Army's big night out
WHAT DO peacekeeping forces actually do? Take the case of four army medics in Bosnia who disobeyed orders to stay in camp and went ahead with their New Year's Eve drunken pub crawl.
They sneaked out wearing full camouflage gear and Red Cross armbands, and took semi-automatic rifles and pistols with them to the Bosnian town of Bos Gradiska. In the celebrations local partygoers threw a firecracker, and the four thought they were under fire.
The squaddies cocked their loaded guns and pointed them at the horrified civilians. It took a standoff with Bosnian armed police to defuse the situation. When the four returned to camp they could not go back to work as they were too drunk to drive an ambulance. A court martial in Aldershot sentenced the four to three months in military prison.
IN THIS WEEK snapshots from history
139 YEARS AGO 1864
THE International Working Men's Association, which became known as the First International, was formed at a conference on 28 September in London. The conference closed with the ringing words, 'We, labourers of all countries, must unite.'
'I think the press self muzzled. Certainly television, and perhaps to a certain extent my station, was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News. And it did put a climate of fear and self censorship, in terms of the kind of broadcast work we did.'
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN war correspondent
'I'm not aware that his name was leaked. It was certainly not leaked by me, and I assure you that we made great efforts to ensure Dr Kelly's anonymity.'
Geoff Hoon, BBC interview, 19 July
'GH and I agreed it would fuck Gilligan if that [Kelly] was his source. He said he was an expert rather than a spy or full time MoD official.'
Alastair Campbell in his diary, 4 July
'GH like me wanted to get it out that the source had broken cover to claim that AG misrepresented him.'
Alastair Campbell diary, 6 July
'Bonkers Bruno Locked Away.'
The Sun front page headline on early edition of last Tuesday's paper
'Sad Bruno In Mental Home.'
The Sun headline on later edition