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Female staff see red over new flimsy blouses

7 May 2013

Virgin rail boss Sir Richard Branson has sparked a "bra wars" row with female staff refusing to wear new blouses which they say fails to protect their modesty.

He has had to delay bringing in new uniforms on his rail route this week after the staff complained that the red blouses were too flimsy and would allow male passengers to see dark bras being worn underneath.

He has offered female staff £20 vouchers to wear undergarments to cover up any embarrassment they feel and has delayed the start of the new uniforms by three weeks in an effort to overcome staff anger.

"Our female members are upset because they feel Sir Richard is cutting corners by asking them to wear flimsy blouses which are skimpy and they feel too revealing, " said Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union.

"He has asked Vivienne Westwood to design the new uniform for his air crews. Unfortunately, by contrast, it looks like he is getting the blouses for train crews from Del Boy at Trotters Independent Traders Ltd at Peckham Market."

In an effort to buy off the revolt, Andy Cross, Virgin's business support director, told the employees website: "It's important that our people feel comfortable and so we will be issuing vouchers in the next few days for ladies to buy undergarments to wear under their blouses."

He acknowledged there were two problems, the sizing of the new blouses which many women felt were too skimpy.

"The other relates to feedback concerning the thickness of the ladies' blouse material. Female employees concerned about the new blouse will be offered a £20 voucher to buy suitable undergarments."

But the union has rejected the offer as too little, too late. It wants the blouses withdrawn and replaced with a quality professional version which hundreds of front line staff would be happy to wear.

Mr Cortes added, "Sir Richard is a child of the 1960s when too many women were still judged in the workplace on their looks.

"There is no place for that old hippy view in the 21st century when our female members want to be judged with dignity on their professionalism in the workplace."

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