The Week in Review: Home News

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The Independent Online
JOBS characterised a week that saw women rekindle the spirit of the miners' strike, win better academic prospects at Oxford and give up work to climb Everest.

In the worst picket-line violence since the coal and print disputes of the mid-80s, 38 people were arrested and 12 police officers injured at the Timex electronics plant in Dundee.

More than 3,000 demonstrators had rallied outside the Scottish plant in an effort to prevent the American-based company busing in non-union labour to do the jobs of 343 mostly women workers, who went on strike in January and were then sacked a month later for refusing to agree to a pay cut.

The aims of women dons at Oxford University were more limited - blocking the appointment of 15 new professors. But they claimed victory in their fight for better promotion prospects when the university's Congregation, or parliament, voted in favour of creating more jobs as readers - a post between lecturer and professor. The women argued that almost all the proposed professors would be men and that they had better chances of becoming readers.

Rebecca Stephens, a British journalist, put her love of climbing before her job and lost it. The post of deputy editor of Resident Abroad was given to someone else during her two-month Himalayan expedition. William Essex, the magazine's editor, said: 'She asked if we could keep the position open. However, it was felt that two months was quite a long time and we couldn't do it.'

Her sister, Mandy, said: 'I don't imagine she'll be touring Job Centres when she gets back.' Indeed, as the first British woman to conquer the world's highest peak recovered at base camp, lucrative offers flooded in to the expedition office in London.

The career of Lord Healey, the 75-year-old Labour peer, took a new direction - as star of a Sainsbury's television advertisement.

The advertising agency, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, said the former Chancellor, who once reportedly boasted he would 'squeeze the rich until the pips squeak', would be portrayed drinking champagne and eating his favourite dish - smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.

Another politician food- and-drink star found himself out of favour. Michael Portillo, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, refused to quash reports that some pensioners might lose their entitlement to free prescriptions, sparking a row in the House of Commons. A rare visit to the Commons tea room by John Major failed to calm Tories, one of whom described the former Ribena kid as 'an ass'.

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