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

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.

`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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam