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Northumbria University staff admit to ‘feeling unsafe’ due to relaxation of Covid restrictions



Northumbria University
Credit Northumbria University Facebook

University staff at Northumbria have revealed they ‘feel unsafe’ returning for the new semester due to the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions and the  removal of safety measures.

According to the BBC, results from a poll completed by 500 Northumbria University members found 75% had worries about on campus teaching ahead of the new year.

The university has said that social distancing and the wearing of face coverings are no longer mandated but ‘encourages staff, students and visitors to be respectful of others’ personal space’.

The University and College Union, also referred to as UCU, branch at Northumbria, has released a statement that says: “Things are nowhere near ‘normal’ yet, and it is disingenuous and dangerous to pretend otherwise.

“Such a position risks threatening staff, students and the community. This means the prospect of face-to-face teaching is, for some, deeply concerning, as it was last year.

“So even if you feel safe and comfortable, many do not; helping to make your colleagues feel safe makes everyone safer.

“Making campus activities as safe as possible also makes them as sustainable as possible for as long as possible.”

The North East based university has said they are committed to supporting each other and that professional cleaning teams will undertake enhanced and more frequent cleaning regimes throughout all learning spaces on campus.

Until recently, Northumbria University has been conducting all teaching, but where in-person teaching was deemed ‘essential’, online due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Last year, Northumbria staff voted for strike action after hundreds of students tested positive for the virus.

According to the UCU Northumbria branch, ‘66.5% of members voted yes to taking strike action on a 67.3% turnout, with 89.9% of members voting yes to taking action short of a strike (ASOS)’.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “This is a massive step forward in our struggle to keep campuses safe for staff and students. Staff at Northumbria have overwhelmingly voted yes to both industrial action and action short of a strike.

“This shows how seriously our members take the safety of their students and colleagues, UCU would like to thank our members and reps for their support.”


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Toys ‘R’ Us To Reopen UK Stores ‘Within Months’



Toys ‘R’ Us is set to make a sudden return to the UK almost four years after the firm vanished.

The toy shop chain were forced to close all of its branches following its collapse in 2018. But the plans for its revival are now in motion after Toys ‘R’ Us’ signed a licence agreement to bring “digital and physical retail commerce” back to the UK.

The Mirror reports that the firm is now ramping up recruitment with plans to relaunch the brand within months. The news was confirmed after a simple message “we’re back in 2022” was added to its newly relaunched UK website.

Louis Mittoni, who is leading the relaunch and is Toys ‘R’ Us Australia chief executive, said: “I’m very excited to welcome over 100 years of retailing experience in our new team, who will lead the relaunch our iconic brand back into the UK market in the next few months. We have an amazing toy and baby buying team, which I believe is the best in the country.

“With this team now in place, we’re hitting the ground running and have been reaching out to the supply base to see with whom we can align on this amazing journey.”

Toys ‘R’ Us was branded the ‘world’s first toy supermarket ’ when it first opened stores in the UK in 1985.

Are you excited to see the toy superstore back?

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That Thursday Feeling: Companies Gear Up For Change To Four-Day Working Week



First it was working from home. Now it is the four-day working week that is stirring up business life in ways that would have seemed unthinkable before Covid-19.

The UK pilot is running in conjunction with similar programmes in the US, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Spain has also launched a separate trial.

Organisers say numerous studies have shown the four-day week boosts productivity and workers’ mental and physical health. When Microsoft trialled it in Japan, productivity went up 40 percent.

Not only is it said to have an improvement for the workers but also the economy. Economic researchers claimed a three-day weekend would boost high street sales by an estimated £58billion. This is due to the longer weekend giving shoppers not only more time to buy, eat out and socialise, but also increase spending related to hobbies such as gardening and DIY. They claim it is a “win-win scenario” for workers and employers.

Currently, just 7 per cent of managers have launched it, or have decided to do so.

Nearly half of those without a shorter week say they are more likely to consider the concept than they were before the pandemic, but almost 30 per cent say they would never consider it. Research also shows female bosses were slightly keener on the shorter week than men: 64 per cent versus 57 per cent.

It looks like the four-day week could become a hot issue at the next general election, despite a lukewarm response when championed by former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn back in 2019.

Would you prefer to work four days a work instead of five? Let us know over on social media!

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The Apprentice: Meet Your 2022 Candidates



The full line-up for the 2022 series of The Apprentice has finally been released ahead of the show’s long awaited return.

After being rested for two years due to the Covid pandemic, the much loved show returns tomorrow, Jan 6.

Candidates this year include a former rugby player, eco warrior, a ‘witch school’ graduate and the self-dubbed ‘Asian version of Lord Sugar’ to name a few. The 16-person group will battle it out in the boardroom in a bid to nab Lord Sugar’s £250,000 investment for their business.

This year’s group features eight women and eight men from a wide range of business backgrounds, with specialists in online pyjama sales, the retail industry and the food and drink market.

With this year’s show set to be the toughest year yet, trying to pitch business ideas and sales throughout a global pandemic.

They’ll also be a change this year to Lord Sugar’s aides, with long time advisor Baroness Karren Brady and series one winner Tim Campbell, replacing Claude Littner for the series while he recovers from multiple surgeries following a serious E-Bike accident.

The Apprentice returns tomorrow, Jan 6 at 9pm on BBC1.

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