RMT announces series of strikes in the run-up to Christmas




  • In Business
  • 2022-11-22 18:16:50Z
  • By The Telegraph
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch - Chris J.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch - Chris J.  

Rail passengers will be hit by waves of strikes in the run up to Christmas and in the New Year after talks to avoid festive travel chaos collapsed.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport workers union (RMT) said 40,000 members will walk out on eight days - December 13, 14, 16 and 17, and January 3, 4, 6 and 7. The industrial action marks the latest twist in a long-running row over pay and working practices.

Rail bosses want to cut costs to balance the books as demand for services settles below pre-pandemic levels. Union chiefs are opposing reforms to save money and are demanding large pay increases as their members grapple with soaring inflation.

The strikes will effectively bring rail services to a near-standstill for a week from December 13 and the first working week back in the New Year.

Only one in five trains is expected to run on strike days. And because of the knock-on effect to train schedules, the day following industrial action means passengers will endure a significantly reduced service.

Coupled with engineering works between Christmas and New Year, passengers on some lines will suffer major disruption for the best part of a month - from Dec 13 to Jan 8.

Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary said: "This latest round of strikes will show how important our members are to the running of this country and will send a clear message that we want a good deal on job security, pay and conditions for our people."

So-called "intensive" talks had been convened earlier this month, raising hopes of a breakthrough. The RMT called off a week-long campaign of industrial action a day before it was due to start, leading to significant disruption to services during the following days - despite no official strikes going ahead.

The talks with the RMT have been conducted by two main parties, Network Rail and train operators.

The strikes on Network Rail, which have dragged on since the start of the summer, are particularly disruptive because they include signal workers, without whom 80pc of services cannot run.

Network Rail has offered an 8pc pay rise over two years - but this is linked to reforms to entrenched working practices. Extreme examples include a "walking time allowance" of 12 minutes for a one minute walk, specialist teams refusing to share vans, and engineers being unable to stray 500 yards from their dedicated patch are among the working practices that union chiefs are determined to defend.

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail's chief negotiator, said: "No-one can deny the precarious financial hole in which the railway finds itself. Striking makes that hole bigger and the task of finding a resolution ever more difficult.

"Only through reform, that will not result in anyone losing their job, can savings be made that can then be converted into an improved offer. And while progress has been made over these last two weeks, we still have yet to find that breakthrough. We will not give-up and hope that the RMT will return to the table with a more realistic appreciation of the situation."

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, said: "We made real progress over the last fortnight of talks and for the first time in months we can see the outline of a credible deal.

"Further strikes, especially in the run up to Christmas, will disrupt the first normal festive season our passengers have been able to look forward to since the Covid pandemic, taking even more money out of the pockets of railway staff, and will cause huge damage to the hospitality and retail sectors dependent on this time of the year for their businesses. We owe it to them to stay round the table."

Mr Lynch added: "The employers are in disarray and saying different things to different people sometimes at the same time. This whole process has become a farce that only the new Secretary of State can resolve. When I meet him later this week, I will deliver that message."

06:05 PM

Wrapping up

That's all from us today, but before you head off, here's some of our top stories from the day for you to catch up on:

  • The grim charts that show how the British economy will lag behind its main rivals

  • National Grid issues - then cancels - electricity shortage warning

  • Crypto broker Genesis at risk of bankruptcy as FTX contagion spreads

  • Twitter to resume hiring after Elon Musk sacks more than 4,000 staff

06:02 PM

Sainsbury's says it upped pay for eggs by another 20pc last week

Sainsbury's has said it understands the "significant challenges" on egg packers and producers, as shoppers are met with shortages on supermarket shelves.

Recent weeks have seen a crisis in the egg sector, with fewer eggs being produced, which farmers say is not only down to the outbreak of avian flu in England but also supermarkets not paying enough for their products, forcing them to reduce their flocks.

Richard Crampton, director of fresh food at Sainsbury's, said: "We understand that farmers who supply our own-brand egg packers are also facing significant challenges and it is clear that this is impacting the number of eggs they are able to produce.

"To support them we have increased the amount we pay our packers for eggs over the past 12 months, while at the same time remaining focused on keeping prices low for customers.

"In response to high levels of inflation in June we accelerated our support, making a meaningful 20pc increase in the amount we pay for eggs and last week we further doubled this investment, paying an additional 20pc. This brings the total we have increased pay by over the past 12 months to around 40pc."

05:45 PM

Hong Kong no longer home to most expensive retail hub, new data shows

Hong Kong - BERTHA WANG
Hong Kong - BERTHA WANG  

Hong Kong is no longer home to the world's most expensive retail district, after zero-Covid restrictions hammered the former British territory's economic recovery.

New York's Upper Fifth Avenue has leapfrogged Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui district to become the most expensive by rent, according to a new survey by real estate company Cushman & Wakefield.

In the New York luxury shopping street, rents are now 14pc higher than they were before the pandemic hit, on a local currency basis, whereas in Hong Kong's district, they have plunged by around 41pc.

Cushman & Wakefield said this reflected ongoing social unrest in Hong Kong, as well as "geopolitical uncertainties and the drop off in mainland Chinese tourists as international borders closed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic".

Hong Kong only lifted strict controls on flights in July, while major airlines have warned of the difficulties of getting their flight schedules back to pre-pandemic levels.

05:30 PM

Bars and restaurants brace for 'catastrophic' blow from strikes

Further rail strikes will be "catastrophic" for bars and restaurants, bosses have said in response to the RMT announcement earlier today.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said more industrial action "will inevitably have a knock on effect on service either side of the key holiday period".

05:05 PM

TV set sales could jump if England gets to World Cup final

More on the AO World results out earlier today, chief executive John Roberts said the retailer was eyeing a boost from the World Cup.

Fresh off the back of England's win yesterday against Iran, Mr Roberts told Reuters that a strong performance from Gareth Southgate's team could spur sales later this year.

"Any World Cup gives our business really positive momentum around sales for things like TVs ... the further they (England) go in the competition, normally the more TVs we sell."

Shares in AO World jumped 15pc today following months of concerns over a cost-of-living squeeze on sales.

04:47 PM

GSK pulls blood cancer drug in the US following disappointing trial

GSK - REUTERS
GSK - REUTERS  

Pharmaceutical giant GSK is to stop selling a blood cancer drug in the US after it revealed disappointing results from late-stage trials.

GSK said it would continue trials and that some patients involved would be able to enroll in a programme that would allow them to keep accessing Blenrep, but that it was pulling its treatment off the US market following a request from regulators.

Earlier this month GSK published trial data showing that its treatment had failed to help people whose blood cancer had stopped responding to treatment to live longer without the disease worsening. This is known as "progression free survival".

04:28 PM

National Grid issues - then cancels - electricity shortage warning

The National Grid has now cancelled a warning on its capacity after surprising with the notice earlier on Tuesday night.

As my colleague Chris Price writes, British households are expected to increase energy consumption during the cold snap.

04:16 PM

Handing over

Thanks for being with me today. Hannah Boland will take you through the evening.

04:12 PM

Train operators say 'we owe it' to commuters to negotiate

The RMT also blamed the strikes on the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the train operating companies.

The union said the group failed to make a meaningful offer on pay and conditions and even cancelled negotiations that were due to take place yesterday.

A Rail Delivery Group spokesman said:

04:10 PM

Lynch: 'This who process has become a farce'

The RMT said Network Rail have failed to make an improved offer on jobs, pay and conditions for our members during the last two weeks of talks.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said:

03:37 PM

National Grid cancels warning

Thankfully, the National Grid has put its contingency plans in place, meaning the automated warning has been cancelled.

Actual blackouts are unlikely, despite the National Grid's power shortage notice.

Energy consultancy EnAppSys explains how Britain will keep the power running:

03:34 PM

Wind power slumps as cold snap hits

Temperatures will fall as low as 1C in Newcastle tonight as a cold spell hits the UK, driving up gas and power demand.

The pinch point for the grid comes as wind power generation has fallen as low as 3,958 megawatts at noon today - less than half of the 10,000 megawatts produced a day earlier.

While National Grid said it was confident that power margins would be sufficient, the measure was narrow enough to trigger the automatic alert for 7pm to the market.

The warning shows the impact a decline in wind generation will have as temperatures plunge this winter.

03:16 PM

National Grid warning amid decline in wind power

The National Grid issued a surprise warning on its capacity for tonight as British households were expected to increase energy consumption during the cold snap.

The notice of its tight electricity margin was sent out warning of a potential shortage from 7pm, when most people would be returning from work, cooking their dinner and using household appliances.

The National Grid quickly cancelled the automated warning as it put in place its contingency systems but experts said it was a signal of "much tighter days ahead".

The electricity network operator issues the warnings when "there may be less generation available" than operators expect will be needed "to meet national electricity demand".

It comes with temperatures dropping as Britain heads into the winter months, which was combined with a drop in the amount of wind power typically generated.

Phil Hewitt, director at Enappsys, said: "This is the first tight day of the winter but it is not super tight.

"It is a small appetizer of tightness, there will be much tighter days ahead."

The National Grid website says: "The notices are intended to be a signal that the risk of a System Stress Event in the GB electricity network is higher than under normal circumstances."

03:12 PM

Twitter to resume hiring after Elon Musk sacks more than 4,000 staff

Elon Musk posed in recent days with Twitter engineers, and says
Elon Musk posed in recent days with Twitter engineers, and says 'people who are great at writing software are the highest priority' - Twitter  

Elon Musk has said Twitter is hiring staff again after sacking more than 4,000 employees in recent weeks.

It comes after a tumultuous few weeks for the social media giant since the Tesla chief  took control. 

02:38 PM

OBR expects tech-supported UK recovery

Back to the Treasury select committee and OBR chair Richard Hughes said another reason for the OBR forecasting more optimistically than the Bank of England is it thinks Britain's recovery will be stronger after the recession.

It believes tech-focused industries will help drive this, whereas the Bank is more sceptical.

02:35 PM

Tough start for tech sector as US markets open

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite has fallen into the red on Wall Street, opening down 1pc to 11,036.91.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has jumped 0.6pc to 33,908.12, while the S&P 500 is up 0.5pc to 3,969.00.

02:29 PM

OBR forecast 'more optimistic' than Bank of England, says Hughes

OBR chairman Richard Hughes said it is a "good principle" that new fiscal positions be accompanied by a forecast like the one from his organisation.

The OBR's forecast is very different from the Bank of England, and Mr Hughes said his was "more optimistic".

He said: "It is more or less in line with other independent forecasts.

He said the reasons for this include that the OBR took a later sample of gas prices, which saw them coming down.

The second reason was a different judgement on household savings rates, which the OBR think will fall over the next year as people dip into their pandemic savings. The Bank thinks people will be more cautious.

02:24 PM

OBR giving evidence to Treasury select committee

The Office for Budget Responsibility is giving evidence to the Treasury select committee.

Richard Hughes, the organisation's chairman, said it had been "an unusual process leading up to this moment".

He said he had approached the Treasury in July about supplying a forecast for the new Tory government.

Kwasi Kwarteng had a forecast from the OBR when he took his job as Chancellor in September but he said shortly afterwards that a full forecast would not be needed for his mini-Budget, Mr Hughes said.

02:19 PM

Unilever ice cream to swap cow milk for fungi

Unilever could launch ice cream not made with cow milk - REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
Unilever could launch ice cream not made with cow milk - REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer  

Food giant Unilever is planning a dairy ice cream that uses milk that does not come from a cow.

The company is working on a process called precision fermentation that uses substances like yeast and fungi to produce milk proteins in a vat.

A product could be available in about a year, according to Andy Sztehlo, head of Unilever's research and development in ice cream.

If successful, Unilever could be the first major food company to create an ice cream made from cow-free dairy, dubbed lab-grown milk, in a burgeoning industry dominated by smaller startups.

A consumer giant like Unilever developing a precision fermentation version of one of its major brands raises hopes that the technology can scale up and be cost-effective.

02:08 PM

Delays on iPhone orders threaten Apple's Christmas sales

Apple iPhone 14s on display - Jason Alden/Bloomberg
Apple iPhone 14s on display - Jason Alden/Bloomberg  

Waiting times for Apple's most expensive smartphones are rising to record levels as the Christmas shopping season kicks off.

The slowdown threatens to curb sales at the company's busiest time of year and derail a rally in the stock of 9.7pc since November 10.

Customers in the US who placed an order on Tuesday would get an iPhone 14 Pro delivered in New York on December 30, after Christmas, according to Apple's website.

The wait was about 34 days as of last week, near the highest ever, according to analysts at UBS Group.

The delays have been blamed on Covid lockdowns around a Chinese plant run by a contract manufacturer of iPhones.

01:53 PM

Half of shoppers put spending limits on Christmas presents as cost of living soars

Half of shoppers are limiting the amount they spend on Christmas presents, data has shown, with many agreeing with friends and family to scrap gifts entirely as the cost of living soars.

My colleague Daniel Woolfson has the details:

Read how the steep rise in living costs has sent lower and middle-income households discretionary income plunging.

01:13 PM

Wall Street prepares for higher open

US equity futures rose as investors analysed comments from Federal Reserve officials for clues about the pace of interest rate increases - and assessed the impact of China's widening Covid lockdowns.

Contracts on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 gained at least 0.3pc.

In US premarket trading, Zoom Video Communications fell after reporting slower sales and trimming its full-year revenue forecast.

Fed officials have broadly maintained their steadfast stance to fight against inflation.

Yet San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly also said that officials need to be mindful of the lags in the transmission of policy changes, while her Cleveland counterpart Loretta Mester said she is open to slowing the tempo of rate rises.

12:57 PM

Strikes halt BP's plan to restart Europe's biggest oil refinery

BP has abandoned a plan to restart operations at its biggest refinery in Europe this week after workers at the plant started strike action.

"The planned restart has been put on hold and operations at the refinery remain shut down," the company said in emailed response to questions.

The company said it regrets the decision to proceed with industrial action and remains in talks with the unions.

On top of dealing with strike action, BP is also working to resolve a fault at the plant in Rotterdam, which prompted it to cease fuel- making operations last week.

Oil prices have continued higher, with a barrel of Brent crude worth $88.87, an increase of 1.7pc, and WTI crude up 1.6pc to $81.31.

12:40 PM

European gas prices rise as Russia threatens to restrict flows further

Gazprom Neft
Gazprom Neft's Omsk Lubricant Plant in Omsk, Russia - REUTERS/Olesya Astakhova  

Russia has threatened to deepen Europe's gas supply crunch by suggesting its state-backed energy company may cut gas flows to the continent next week.

European natural gas futures jumped as much as 4.2pc after the Russian gas exporter Gazprom said some of its gas meant for Moldova was being kept in Ukraine.

The Ukraine route is the last remaining pipeline still bringing Russian gas to western Europe as Moscow has progressively squeezed supplies to the continent since before the war.

There are concerns in Europe that the issue with Moldova may be the beginning of a complete shutdown.

Disputes over contractual clauses and regulation have been a feature of the meltdown in economic ties between Russia and the West.

Winter without any Russian gas would be a challenge for Europe, even gas with storage sites close to capacity, providing some buffer.

12:05 PM

West Midlands Metro strike called off

Tram line workers have halted a planned strike after securing a 20pc pay rise.

West Midlands Metro services will continue after the new pay offer.

It came after 170 members of the Unite union said workers would take all-out industrial action from the end of November.

11:47 AM

New bacon plant to open next year

Danish Crown to open bacon plant - iStockphoto
Danish Crown to open bacon plant - iStockphoto  

Europe's top meat processor is building a new bacon plant in Britain.

Danish Crown will invest £100m to build the factory in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, the company said.

The plant will be its first in Britain since selling its Tulip Ltd business to Pilgrim's Pride in 2019.

The move comes during a tumultuous time for the livestock industry.

A worker shortage at slaughterhouses last year led to the cull of thousands of pigs.

High feed and energy prices have also left farmers across Europe paring back herds, and Pilgrim's recently closed two British plants.

The new factory will run on renewable energy and open in the second half of next year, producing more than 900 tons of bacon and gammon a week.

11:35 AM

Penguin Random House abandons £1.9bn merger

Penguin books - REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
Penguin books - REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth  

Some news from the publishing world.

Penguin Random House, the world's largest book publisher, and smaller US rival Simon & Schuster have scrapped a $2.2bn (£1.9bn) merger.

Bertelsmann, the German media group which owns Penguin, initially said it would appeal a US judge's decision that said its purchase of Simon & Schuster would be illegal because it would hit authors' pay.

But Bertelsmann said in a statement that it "will advance the growth of its global book publishing business without the previously planned merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster".

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter said in a statement said the US Justice Department "is pleased that Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster have opted not to appeal".

11:12 AM

Pound rises against the dollar

The pound clawed back some gains against the dollar, which has retreated following three days of gains.

The greenback - typically the driver of global currency markets - rose sharply on Monday as a jump in Covid-19 cases in China sparked growth fears and sent investors towards the safe-haven currency, causing the pound to drop 0.6pc.

However, sterling has gained 0.4pc this morning to reach $1.187.

The pound has rallied sharply in recent weeks after touching a record low of $1.03 in September after the mini-Budget.

The euro rose 0.1pc against the pound to 86.7p.

11:01 AM

Apple and Google face competition probe

The competition watchdog has launched an in-depth investigation into the market dominance of Apple and Google's mobile browsers, months after the regulator began considering a probe.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said today that responses to its consultation from June revealed "substantial support" for a fuller investigation.

It will also look at how iPhone-maker Apple restricts cloud gaming through its app store.

Sarah Cardell, interim chief executive of the CMA, said in a statement:

In June, Google had said it would continue to work with the watchdog.

Apple said today it would "constructively" engage with the CMA to explain how its approach "promotes competition and choice, while ensuring consumers' privacy and security are protected".

10:52 AM

Starmer: 'Biggest problem is lack of growth over last 12 years'

Sir Keir Starmer speaks at the CBI annual conference in Birmingham - Jacob King/PA Wire
Sir Keir Starmer speaks at the CBI annual conference in Birmingham - Jacob King/PA Wire  

Sir Keir Starmer has said he will fight the next election on the economy, accusing the Conservatives of having "archived Britain's growth".

The Labour leader said the UK's "single biggest problem is lack of growth over the last 12 years", stating "we are going to have to be responsible" for clearing up the economic mess.

He told the CBI conference in Birmingham that he searched for the Government's industrial strategy on the Gov.uk website on Monday.

Its stated aims, he said, "was" to boost productivity to create good jobs.

"And scratched across the top is one word - I kid you not - archived," Sir Keir said.

"Archived? Doesn't that just tell you everything. The Government has archived Britain's growth."

He added: "We will inherit an economy that's been damaged by the last 12 weeks and the last 12 years, and we need to fundamentally accept that as an incoming government.

"Restoring stability is key. There's a cost to instability and we have been paying that cost over the last few weeks and over the last few years."

10:36 AM

FTSE 100 at two-month high

The FTSE 100 has jumped to a two-month high, as oil stocks bounced back following a bullish comment on the sector by a brokerage and news that Opec+ members were not discussing an oil output increase.

The commodities-heavy FTSE 100 rose 1pc to its strongest level since September 13.

Oil producers Shell and BP jumped 3.3pc and 5.8pc, respectively, as crude prices gained after Saudi Arabia's energy minister denied a report that said Opec+ oil producers were discussing a potential output increase.

North Sea producer Harbour Energy was up 5.5pc.

The FTSE 100 peaked at just shy of 1pc higher at 7449.09 before tailing off.

The surge in BP was also helped by Citigroup's "buy" rating on the stock, up from "neutral". The brokerage said it expects the rotation into energy stocks to continue.

Britain's energy sector surged 4.1pc and base metal miners gained 2.2pc as metal prices gained.

10:30 AM

Labour leader attacks Tories over 'stagnation dressed up as stability'

Sir Keir Starmer addresses the CBI annual conference in Birmingham - OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
Sir Keir Starmer addresses the CBI annual conference in Birmingham - OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images  

Sir Keir Starmer claimed the Government's Autumn Statement amounted to "stagnation dressed up in the clothes of stability" as he told business leaders he would fight the next election on the economy.

The Labour leader sought to woo business leaders as he spoke at the CBI's annual conference with a promise of a "new partnership".

He offered a "pragmatic" approach to economic migration and a commitment to boosting productivity across the country.

However, he warned that the economic chaos under the Tories meant that if he won the next election some "good Labour things" he would like to do would have to be shelved in order to focus on restoring the nation's economic credibility.

He hit out at Jeremy Hunt's Autumn Statement, where the Chancellor defended £25bn of tax rises to secure the public finances a day after figures showed inflation stood at 11.1pc in October. Sir Keir said:

Last week you saw the sum total of their offer on growth. Stagnation dressed up in the clothes of stability. Decline paraded as tough decisions.

Tough decisions would be challenging their party on planning, on onshore wind, on industrial strategy. But they don't have it in them. Don't understand that to be a careful steward of the economy in a volatile world you need to be proactive, need to intervene to ensure stability and growth."

I will put it simply. Every business in this room has a strategy for growth.

A nation needs one too because the headwinds we face - climate change, artificial intelligence, caring for an ageing society - mean that a hands off approach just isn't fit for purpose anymore and I am not going to give up on growth that easily.

10:00 AM

UK households to suffer highest inflation in G7

The UK will have one of the highest inflation rates in the rich world for the next three years, as soaring energy costs and a shrinking labour force push up prices, writes Eir Nolsøe.

09:42 AM

Bus strikes hit commuters

Buses were overcrowded this month during rail strikes but now bus driver are staging a walkout - Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Buses were overcrowded this month during rail strikes but now bus driver are staging a walkout - Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images  

You wait all morning for news about strikes and then two come at once.

More than 950 bus drivers employed by Abellio in south and west London began 10 days of strike action in a pay dispute.

The dispute over pay means there will also be strikes on November 25 and 26, as well as December 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:

09:32 AM

Christmas cash shortage fears amid G4S strikes

G4S security staff - Action Images/Carl Recine
G4S security staff - Action Images/Carl Recine  

Around 1,200 G4S security staff who deliver cash and coins have voted to strike in December, prompting fears of shortages ahead of Christmas.

The industrial action could impact the supply of cash and coins at banking clients such as Barclays, HSBC and Santander, and supermarkets including Tesco, Asda and Aldi.

The GMB union said it will be the first ever strike at G4S after union members voted to walk out, with a 97pc vote in favour of action.

It said the strike is scheduled to take place from 3am on December 4.

G4S Cash Solutions initially offered members a part pay freeze and have since tabled an offer of a 4pc increase and lump sum bonus based on contracted hours.

Eamon O'Hearn, GMB national officer, said:

09:22 AM

Rail strikes 'highly likely'

Rail chiefs are this morning waiting with bated breath for a fresh wave of train strikes in the run-up to Christmas.

Chief business correspondent Oliver Gill has the latest:

09:18 AM

European has prices slip

European natural gas prices erased gains this morning as ample supplies neutralised the potential for price rises caused by a winter cold snap.

Benchmark futures slipped as much as 1.5pc after gaining as much as 3.6pc earlier.

Flows from Norway are above a ten-day average, while liquified natural gas shipments are at a record for the time of year.

Temperatures are forecast to dip below the norm for this time of year at the end of the month, kick starting the heating season.

08:52 AM

FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried's parents bought Bahamas property worth £102m

Sam Bankman-Fried - Ting Shen/Bloomberg
Sam Bankman-Fried - Ting Shen/Bloomberg  

Sam Bankman-Fried's FTX, his parents and senior executives of the failed cryptocurrency exchange bought at least 19 properties worth nearly $121m (£102.2m) in the Bahamas over the past two years, official property records show.

Most of FTX's purchases were luxury beachfront homes, including seven condominiums in an expensive resort community called Albany, costing almost $72m (£60.8m).

The deeds show these properties, bought by a unit of FTX, were to be used as "residence for key personnel" of the company, according to Reuters, which could not determine who lived in the apartments.

The documents for another home with beach access in Old Fort Bay - a gated community that was once home to a British colonial fort built in the 1700s to protect against pirates - show Bankman-Fried's parents, Stanford University law professors Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, as signatories.

The property, one of the documents dated June 15 said, is for use as a "vacation home".

When asked by Reuters why the couple decided to buy a vacation home in the Bahamas and how it was paid for - whether in cash, with a mortgage or by a third party such as FTX - a spokesman for the professors said only that Bankman and Fried had been trying to return the property to FTX.

08:37 AM

Oil producers lead surge on FTSE 100

North Sea oil - Haekon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix via AP
North Sea oil - Haekon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix via AP  

Shares in oil and gas producers surged this morning as crude prices rose after Saudi Arabia's energy minister denied a report that suggested Opec+ group was considering an increase in supply.

BP shares have risen 5pc in early trading, with North Sea producer Harbour Energy up 4.4pc and Shell rising 2.9pc.

The FTSE 100 is up 0.6pc to 7,421.65.

Oil steadied after a volatile session on Monday as investors juggled a clouded supply outlook from Opec+ and concerns over weaker demand in virus-hit China, where nationwide Covid cases swelling near a record level despite curbs.

A barrel of Brent crude is up 1.2pc to $88.52, while WTI crude is up 1.2pc to just shy of $81.

08:27 AM

AO World shares surge despite growing losses

AO World founder and chief executive John Roberts - Jason Alden
AO World founder and chief executive John Roberts - Jason Alden  

Online electricals retailer AO World has posted larger half-year losses after sales fell, and cautioned trading will be remain under pressure amid the cost-of-living crisis and supply chain woes.

The group reported pre-tax losses of £12m for the six months to September 30, against losses of £4m a year earlier, as revenues tumbled 17pc to £546 million.

However, its shares jumped as much as 13pc to their highest points since July after founder and chief executive John Roberts said the firm's turnaround plan to strip out costs was paying off.

It revealed full-year underlying earnings would now be at the top end of the £20m to £30m previous guidance.

08:17 AM

Ofgem boss quizzed on energy company collapses

The head of Ofgem has faced down accusations of regulatory failure after the collapse of dozens of British energy suppliers in recent years, adding to customers' already soaring energy bills.

Jonathan Brearley, the regulator's chief executive, acknowledged "there are things to be learned" after the collapse of several of Britain's energy providers.

The taxpayer stumped up £6bn following the collapse of Bulb last year, while customers have been forced to pay more on their bills as bigger energy firms are forced to swallow up their failed rivals.

Mr Brearley told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

Ofgem this week told 17 British energy suppliers that they have to improve how they deal with vulnerable customers.

It identified "severe weaknesses" at five suppliers: Good Energy, Outfox, SO Energy, Tru Energy and Utilita.

08:03 AM

Markets up at the open

Some respite on the FTSE 100 after a rout in oil prices dragged down energy companies on the blue-chip index on Monday.

The FTSE 100 has risen by 0.4pc at the open to 7,405.17.

The domestically-focused FTSE 250 has inched up 0.1pc 19,424.31.

07:54 AM

Musk to hold off launching Twitter's new blue tick service

Elon Musk has announced he will delay the relaunch of the social network's blue tick subscription service "until there is high confidence of stopping impersonation".

The coveted blue tick was previously reserved for verified accounts of politicians, famous personalities, journalists and other public figures.

Mr Musk replaced this with a subscription option earlier this month in a bid to help Twitter grow revenue as many companies suspended advertising on the platform.

However the new scheme, which Mr Musk had said was an effort to get rid of Twitter's "lords and peasants system for who has or doesn't have a blue checkmark", had been halted last Friday following the chaotic launch of Twitter Blue.

A host of fake accounts quickly signed up for the blue tick verification - including one impersonating President George W Bush and another Tony Blair.

Mr Musk tweeted:

07:42 AM

Royal Mail staff to vote on company's leadership

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said Royal Mail Group's senior management have presented a "take-it-or-leave-it" proposal, which was rejected by the union's national leadership.

The union is organising meetings today where its members will be asked to vote on whether they have confidence in the way the company is being managed.

The union's national postal executive has made proposals to help resolve the dispute, including an improved 18-month pay deal, a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies and a joint review of agreements and the relationship between the CWU and Royal Mail Group.

CWU members will be striking on Thursday and Friday ahead of more walkouts next month.

07:36 AM

Hunt: 'No easy path to balancing the nation's books'

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said it was "right" to increase borrowing to support energy bills, writes Szu Ping Chan.

The ONS also recorded an £800m hit from losses related to quantitative easing as the Bank of England pays more on reserves than it receives on holdings.

This reverses the pattern seen in the wake of the financial crisis which netted the Treasury £120bn. The Office for Budget Responsibility, (OBR), the government's fiscal watchdog, expects total losses to hit £133bn.

Mr Hunt added: "There is no easy path to balancing the nation's books, but we have taken the necessary decisions to get debt falling while actively taking steps to protect jobs, public services and the most vulnerable."

07:33 AM

Government's borrowing surges

Public borrowing jumped in October as the government started subsidising energy bills and covering losses incurred by the Bank of England's massive bond buying programme, writes our economics editor Szu Ping Chan.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the Treasury borrowed £13.5bn in October to plug the gap between tax receipts and public spending. This is £4.4bn more than the previous year and the fourth highest October deficit since records began in 1993.

Debt interest payments jumped again amid soaring inflation, which hit £6,1bn in October, half of which reflected the jump in the retail prices index (RPI), which rose 14.2pc last month.

The ONS said the borrowing figures accounted for £1.9bn in spending on energy bills, which reflected the first tranche of subsidies introduced by Rishi Sunak when he was Chancellor that will see all bills reduced by £400 this winter.

07:23 AM

Good morning

Rail union bosses will meet today to agree on whether to stage more walkouts on Britain's railways after talks with industry bosses collapsed.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) had called off industrial action at the eleventh hour shortly before the Bonfire Night weekend, although the last-minute decision still caused heavy disruption on trains.

Union bosses had abandoned the walkouts after Network Rail U-turned on plans to force through reforms to the working conditions of maintenance staff.

However, the union said Network Rail had refused to make any new proposals after the conclusion of talks last week.

Meanwhile, the Rail Delivery Group, which represents Britain's train operators, has refused to make "promised written proposals" during the six-month dispute over jobs, pay and terms and conditions.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said he will be recommending further phases of "sustained" industrial action when the union's National Executive Committee meets today.

He said: "While we will remain available for meaningful negotiations it is now obvious that the other side is unwilling or unable to progress matters appropriately, so our action will be reinstated."

Last week, the RMT said that more than nine in 10 members backed further walkouts across Network Rail, the owner of tracks and stations, as well as 14 train operating companies.

Separately, Royal Mail workers will hold a series of meetings today to vote on whether they have confidence in the company's chief executive ahead of fresh strikes in their long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is organising meetings where its members will be asked to vote on whether they have confidence in the way the company is being managed.

5 things to start your day

1) Regulate crypto to stop next FTX-style implosion, says Bank of England - Future crashes could have wider impacts on the financial system, warns deputy governor

2) What is a Swiss-style deal with the EU and could it happen? - Sunak kills off speculation following furious backlash among hardline Brexiteers

3) Shell reconsiders £25bn investment in UK energy over windfall tax raid - Levies will force oil giant to 'rerun the economics' on future projects, says UK chairman

4) Sunak tells NHS to embrace robot workers as it prepares to sack staff - Prime Minister pledges to 'radically innovate' health service to drive up economic growth

5) Disney surges after surprise return of Bob Iger as chief executive - Shock departure of Bob Chapek comes as entertainment giant struggles to boost profits

What happened overnight

Asian shares were on the defensive on Tuesday as a Covid resurgence in China inflated concerns that Beijing may reimpose strict pandemic restrictions, which could cause supply chain disruptions.

The dollar pulled back from strong overnight gains on Tuesday, while oil took a pause from Monday's retreat.

The broader Asia-Pacific index ex-Japan lost 0.25pc in early trade, while China's benchmark dipped 0.13pc. Hong Kong's benchmark index dropped 1.31pc.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei average opened up 0.78pc, while Australian shares climbed 0.55pc.

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