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Merseyrail strike ballot closes

The dispute is over proposals for driver only trains Credit: GTV

The ballot on possible strike action at Merseyrail closes today.

Union members have been asked to vote in a dispute over the introduction of driver only trains.

Walk outs could begin next month if workers vote for industrial action.

Hope for Vauxhall workers after Peugeot meeting

Vauxhall car workers have started their weekend with more hope they'll have jobs to return to for the next four years.

There had been fears the Ellesmere Port plant would close, as owners General Motors discuss selling its European operation to the French makers of Peugeot, PSA.

There've been days of talks between the British and French government, union leaders and the bosses of both car giants.

The UNITE union says its been assured that Ellesmere Port will continue making the Astra until 2021.

Victoria Grimes reports.

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Lifeline thrown to Vauxhall workers in Ellesmere Port

Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port has agreements to build the Astra until 2021 Credit: PA

The leader of the UNITE Union says that the boss of Peugeot has given assurances that Britain's Vauxhall plants will see out their existing production runs, but also raised the issue of Brexit uncertainty.

Len McCluskey, Unite's general secretary, said he came away from a meeting with PSA Group chief executive Carlos Tavares without his "optimism being dented" and said their discussion had been "open and relatively positive". Mr McCluskey also said that Mr Tavares was "very pro-union" and talked about "not being here to shut plants".

Ellesmere Port has agreements in place to build the Vauxhall Astra until 2021, while the Luton plant is under contract to manufacture the Vauxhall Vivaro van until 2025.

However, The PSA boss is said to have raised the issue of uncertainty surrounding Britain's future outside the European Union during talks over PSA's proposed takeover of General Motor's loss-making European arm.

The news comes after Mr Tavares said on Thursday that the deal could result in "speedy" cost savings and as the car industry braces for the potential impact of life outside the single market.

Len McCluskey says he's that the early signs are positive.

I had a constructive meeting with the chief executive in which I made the case for how important Vauxhall is to the UK, the excellence of its plants and operations across the UK and how successful they have been.

The meeting was reassuring. We discussed how PSA's approach is to increase market share and expand production, rather than close plants. I was assured that the commitments to the plants would be honoured.

There was also recognition that members of the Vauxhall pension fund will be no worse off.

– Greg Clark, Business Secretary

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Bishop rededicates historic cross in St Peter’s Square

The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, has led a ceremony to bless the historic St Peter’s Square cross, acknowledging the former religious importance of the area as the square’s transformation celebrates its final phase. The cross marks the site of the St Peter’s Square church that stood on the spot from 1788, from which the Square is named (then known as St Peter’s Fields), until 1907.

St Peter's Church in 1907 Credit: Manchester City Council

Since 2013, St Peter’s Square has been the site of huge transformation, including the Metrolink expansion, a new St Peter’s Square tram stop and the relocation of the cenotaph. Work is expected to be completed in the next few months.

Threat of strike action by nuclear staff

Union leaders representing thousands of nuclear workers are to discuss calling a strike ballot in a row over pensions. Staff at firms in Warrington and Cumbria are among 16000 workers at 19 sites facing cuts according to unions. They claim the Nuclear Decommisiong Authority has to make savings of £660million.

Staff working at Sellafield, Cumbria are among those who may be affected Credit: pa

The unions said the Government's expectation is that the final salary pension schemes in place across the NDA estate will be reformed by April 2018. They're describing the cuts as an attack on the pensions of nuclear workers and their communities. Unions are expected to meet within the next few days.

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