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New Zealand Herald

Train Crash – Music Vouchers – TB Outbreak – Bus Strike (Editorial) – Thesis Stolen – America’s Cup – Electricity – Drugged Rape – West Coast Slip – Policeman Attacked – Schools Cruising

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TRAIN CRASH: They were typical New Zealanders on an ordinary journey - that ended in tragedy. Aucklanders Allan Stewart and Matthew MacAulay were taking a train to their white-collar jobs in London - looking forward to attending the big All Black match this weekend - when their worlds ended. The Great Western Express train collided with another near Paddington station and burst into flames. They are among at least 70 people killed.

MUSIC VOUCHERS: Music stores are preparing to deal with thousands of angry customers after the collapse of the company that controls the country's biggest music gift voucher scheme. Up to $1 million worth of Musicman vouchers are believed to have been rendered worthless by the collapse of Auckland-based Music Traders.

TB OUTBREAK: Poverty and poor housing have been blamed for Northland's worst outbreak of tuberculosis in 30 years. Twelve Whangarei people - two adults, a teenager and nine children - have been diagnosed with the disease, and another four people are receiving preventive treatment.

BUS STRIKE: Thousands of Auckland commuters stranded by a wildcat bus strike yesterday have no guarantee against more disruption today. A stopwork meeting planned for early this morning was thought unlikely to go ahead, although union officials were saying little last night about the next move in their employment contract war with Stagecoach.

BUS STRIKE: Auckland bus drivers and their employers have rarely had comfortable industrial relations. There are veterans from old battles on both sides of the picket lines. The dispute between Stagecoach and its drivers is about working conditions, rather than pay, with the union saying the requirements of six-hour breaks between split shifts and taking meal breaks on the road are unfair.

BUS STRIKE – EDITORIAL: Wildcat strikes have an intimidating potential to disrupt or paralyse. As the ultimate weapon in the armoury of employees, such action should be used with the utmost discretion, the more so when an unannounced stoppage can demolish the honest ambition of thousands of people. In such cases, employees can reasonably be expected to consider the wider consequences of their actions, especially so when negotiations between trade union and com-pany are ongoing. Such has certainly not been the case in the wildcat strikes by a minority of the bus-drivers employed by Stagecoach in Auckland. On the contrary, the drivers have shown a cavalier indifference to the plight of stranded commuters - and the businesses that suffer from those people's absence or late arrival. History suggests we should not be unduly surprised. The quaintly named Tramways Union enjoys the dubious distinction of being among the most anachronistic of organisations. Perhaps only the Seafarers Union, which once showed a similar disdain for Cook Strait ferry passengers, has surpassed it in failing to acknowledge new realities, such as companies using labour more variably and efficently.

THESIS STOLEN: A two-minute call of nature cost Rosalene Bradbury 18 months of hard work after the thesis for her master's degree was stolen from the University of Auckland. The distraught theology student said yesterday that she was working on her 51,000-word epic in the university's library late on Wednesday night and had just changed the word 'thesis' to 'thesis finished.'

AMERICA’S CUP: It was a rare act of compassion in the dog-eat-dog world of the America's Cup. When Young Australia's boat was holed by a rival challenger, the errant helmsman took the damaged boat home and got his team to work late into the night to fix it.

ELECTRICITY: Labour may reintegrate the Electricity Corporation into one company if it forms the next Government. ECNZ, biggest of the state-owned enterprises, was split in April into three competing generators - Meridian, Genesis and Mighty River Power.

DRUGGED RAPE: Charges of spiking a young woman's drink have been dropped against two men involved in a high-profile rape trial. The dramatic turnaround came when the Crown said that further investigations yesterday meant the drugging charges were unsafe.

WEST COAST SLIIP: Water was late last night starting to breach a 60 to 80m high dam blocking a South Westland river. The dam was created by a huge slip which rumbled down Mt Adams on Wednesday, blocking the Poerua River.

POLICEMAN ATTACKED: A policeman was recovering at home yesterday after his eyes were gouged in broad daylight on the Auckland waterfront. The attacker first king-hit Constable Gary Boles with a heavy bag, inflicting a deep cut to his head.

SCHOOLS CRUISING: “Leafy-suburb" schools which should be excelling have been accused of cruising by the Education Review Office. The office's annual report highlights the complacency of middle-class schools as a serious issue from its inspections in the past 10 years.


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