News Workers at mail-order company La Redoute protest in Lille against plans to sack 1,200 workers

3.2 million people are working so hard that they risked mental or physical breakdown, study finds

`Sickness' retirement crackdown

THE BIGGEST crackdown yet on ill-health retirement among police, fire officers and teachers has been launched by the Government after figures showed that the problem was costing taxpayers pounds 1bn a year.

Purge on scandal of early retirers

THE BIGGEST crackdown yet on ill-health retirement among police, fire officers and teachers has been launched by the Government after figures showed that the problem was costing taxpayers pounds 1bn a year.

Veteran reporter quits `Guardian'

MARTIN WALKER, a veteran foreign correspondent for The Guardian, left the paper suddenly last night after days of rumours about the running costs of the paper's office in Brussels, which the reporter had been running.

Letter: Children need real holidays too

MICHAEL MCMAHON'S excellent article could have mentioned the effects of the Gulagisation of education on teachers: burn-out, early retirements, - far too many good colleagues gone before their time - and the re-rating of teachers by insurance companies into the high-risk band, along with pilots and surgeons.

Focus: Equality - `It was like the Fifties'

When I worked for Usdaw, the shop and distributive workers' union, its membership was three-quarters female. It covered a workforce that is difficult to organise but desperately easy to exploit: mothers and older women looking for part-time work on the shop floor or conveyor belt. I joined as a graduate with little work experience and a strong belief in trade unionism, but my initial short contract stretched to six disillusioning years working in the union's national headquarters in suburban Manchester.

Obituary: Buster Merryfield

ONE OF the most loved character actors on television, Buster Merryfield played Uncle Albert, the white-haired bewhiskered Navy veteran of Only Fools and Horses who always began his stories with the phrase, "Durin' the war . . ." as he regaled Del Boy (David Jason) and Rodney (Nicholas Lyndhurst) with tales of his seagoing days. Among the most successful and acclaimed of all television sitcoms, Only Fools and Horses started in 1981, but Merryfield joined the show in the third series, when the actor playing Grandad (Lennard Pearce) died and a new character was needed to maintain a triangle of central characters.

Wanted: some good old friends for a matey reunion

This is not the whinge of a Norman No-mates - friends have even been to QPR matches with me

'The mothers of Tiananmen' challenge China for the truth

ON FRIDAY 62-year-old Zhang Xianling and her husband will head for the Wanan cemetery on the western outskirts of Peking. In front of the casket holding the ashes of their son, Wang Nan, they will place a single red rose, just as they have on this day every year for the past decade.

Letter: Short of midwives

Sir: My first thought on reading your headline "Crisis in obstetrics looming, says NHS" (7 May) was that at last the shortage of midwives was about to be addressed by Mr Taylor, NHS director of personnel. I was wrong, as Mr Taylor believes that the threat to the safety of women in childbirth comes from a shortage of obstetricians.

Football: Zola considers early retirement

GIANFRANCO ZOLA may retire at the end of next season, he announced yesterday.

Letter: Ofsted must do better

MICHAEL MCMAHON has justifiably had enough of inner-city schooling. My 14-year-old son has two years to go at our local high school, which is still reeling from a recent harsh and unfair Ofsted report. Described as a vindictive piece of writing by parents and teachers alike, the report resulted in the loss of an enthusiastic, experienced and dedicated headteacher, and months of uncertainty for staff, pupils and parents, which is not over yet.

`Incompetent' state lawyers to be sacked

DOZENS OF state lawyers are incompetent and are letting the public down by their failure to prosecute criminals, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) said yesterday.

Power firms flout pension ruling

TWO OF the country's biggest electricity companies have decided to keep pounds 600m owing to their occupational pension schemes, even though the Court of Appeal ruled last month that they had acted unlawfully in using the money to fund post-privatisation redundancy schemes.

Education Letter: Old'ums are golden

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Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada