Pee-break ruling relieves workers

CITY DIARY

A French judge ruled on Monday that workers may go for a pee without needing their employer's permission. "The right to go to the lavatory cannot be subject to authorisation by someone else," the head of the industrial tribunal at Quimperle, North-west France, said in a landmark ruling to end the months-long "pee-break" dispute.

The Lucien Bigard slaughterhouse last year decreed five-minute breaks three times a day for 250 meat packers. The outraged workers downed tools for three days in August. The factory owner partly backed down but insisted that workers had to get a replacement before going to the toilet.

The workers took the matter to court. The judge ruled workers could be asked to tell their supervisors when they needed to go but their "freedom to go to the toilet" could not be restricted by obliging them to get a replacement. What a relief.

Cheltenham races last week turned sour for the private client stockbrokers Astaire & Partners when their party was told to "f... off" by a group of "yobs and oiks" booked under "Blue Circle Group". Blue Circle Industries said yesterday that it does not use the term "Group", and that it had no knowledge of any of its people visiting the races, or of the unsavoury incident.

Steven Astaire, clearly still angry, described yesterday how his party had arrived at a restaurant overlooking the course, only to find its table occupied. The eight occupiers acknowledged that they had booked a different table, but said they were happy where they were and weren't going to move. A brisk altercation ensued.

The waitress, her supervisor and the manager were all unable to shift them, said Mr Astaire. "It was sheer yobbish behaviour by a bunch of oiks," he said.

Can anyone clear up the mystery of who they were?

So George Simpson is leaving the Lucas chief executive's chair to take over at GEC. When Lucas chairman Sir Brian Pearse was asked yesterday whether GEC would be paying a transfer fee, the jovial former banker indicated they would: "Gazza went to Rangers for pounds 4m and he's not even an accountant."

Lucas wants GEC to buy out Simpson's remaining three-year contract, which runs out in March 1997. The cost is likely to be in the tens of thousands. Simpson himself dropped a blooper, telling journalists: "When I go to GKN..." He slapped his head and hurriedly added "That was the last offer." Oh to be loved.

Today Rob Andrew, the former England rugby player and ex-property agent, attempts to beat the world record for a place kick at the 1996 Property Awards. Yesterday Ernie Cooper rang us up to remind us that he holds the world record - for a goal during an actual game.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, he kicked an 81-yard goal in 1944 as a 17-year-old while captaining Bridlington School against an Army XV.

Now a representative for Sun Life in Hull, Ernie puts it all down to "a good follow through. That's what gets you the distance."

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