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Virgin Australia is rostering pilots ‘closer to the limit’ of fatigue, watchdog tells Senate estimates
The aviation safety regulator believes Virgin Australia is rostering pilots “closer to the limits” of anti-fatigue standards, amid fears some are working 12-hour days back-to-back but are hesitant to report feeling tired out of fear of losing shifts.Civil Aviation Safety Authority (Casa) officials’ comments at Senate estimates on Wednesday evening followed revelations in the Guardian that pilots had repeatedly raised concerns over Virgin’s rostering system adding to fatigue levels.As Virgin Australia and the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) remain in a standoff over a proposal to strip pilots of six days’ annual leave during negotiations for a new enterprise agreement, email chains between pilots and management as well as pilot-only discussion groups raised frustration at what they allege was management’s failures to recognise the fatigue issue.The correspondence seen by Guardian Australia revealed anger at outdated roster software which they claim has not been replaced despite a promise to do so by the owners of the airline, private equity firm Bain Capital. In addition, there is an alleged reliance on routinely scheduling pilots to work maximum shift lengths – 12 hours and longer in the event of delays – on back-to-back days, while allowing for just the legal minimum rest period of 12 hours
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‘Sticky’ inflation is not falling – but it’s not rising, either. Why should that mean another RBA rate hike?

The latest inflation figures released on Wednesday showed that inflation is “sticky” and is no longer falling at the pace it was earlier this year. But while there will be those arguing this means we need higher interest rates, the latest retail spending figures – also released this week – show that’s the last thing the economy needs.There is often a curious bit of fudging around how inflation gets talked about. We sometimes hear the RBA and others worry about “accelerating” inflation, that is, when the growth of prices (inflation) is itself speeding up.Prices as a rule always go up, but what economists suggest they care about is when the amount by which they go up “accelerates”

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Orange-juice makers consider using other fruits after prices go ‘bananas’

Orange juice makers are considering turning to alternative fruits such as mandarins as wholesale prices have “gone bananas” amid fears of poor harvests in Brazil.Prices of orange juice reached a new high of $4.95 (£3.88) a lb on commodity markets this week after growers in the main orange producing areas of Brazil said they were expecting the harvest to be 24% down on last year at 232m 40.8kg boxes – worse than the 15% fall previously predicted

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Thames Water urged to ‘get a grip’ on testing water supply after illness outbreak

Steve Reed, Labour’s shadow environment secretary, has urged Thames Water to “get a grip” and test treatment works “urgently” after it emerged over the weekend that the company had tested the water at only one property.Over the last two weeks, dozens of people in Beckenham, south-east London, have reported becoming unwell with diarrhoea and vomiting. The symptoms in most cases have lasted for an unusually long time – up to two weeks. They have also been severe, with multiple people hospitalised, including an eight-year-old boy.Last Wednesday, Thames Water tested the water at the property of one person who had become unwell; the results came back clear

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Ofwat considers cutting sewage fines for financially struggling water firms

Ofwat, the water regulator for England and Wales, is understood to be considering cutting fines for sewage-dumping water companies if they are facing financial pressures.According to the Financial Times, which first reported the plan, the regulator intends to draw up a “recovery regime” for Thames Water, which is facing collapse or restructuring owing to its high debts, and others that find themselves in similar positions.Under the proposals, the companies could face fewer or no fines for water outages and sewage leaks and instead be encouraged to invest in infrastructure, in an effort to reduce the threat of nationalisation. Other debt-laden water companies, including Southern Water, South East Water and Yorkshire Water, may also be eligible for the recovery regime.The water industry has long been lobbying for such measures, with sources briefing ministers and journalists that fining companies such as Thames Water over sewage spills is like “shooting the company in the leg and then expecting them to win the race”

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Royal Mail owner agrees to £3.57bn takeover by Czech billionaire

The takeover of Royal Mail by the Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský has edged closer after its owner agreed terms and conditions on a £3.57bn offer.In an update to the market on Wednesday, the postal service’s parent company, International Distribution Services (IDS), said it had accepted a cash offer from Křetínský’s EP Group.The deal means Křetínský, who made his fortune in energy and owns a minority stake in one of the main gas pipelines from Russia into Europe, would pay 360p a share for the 73% of the struggling postal service he does not already own.IDS shares rose by 3% to 331p when markets opened – still far short of EP’s offer, suggesting the market remains unconvinced the deal will definitely go through