Canada: Workers find live British cannonball in Quebec

A worker poses beside the cannonball in Quebec

Builders in the old part of the Canadian city of Quebec have unearthed a live cannonball fired by the British during a siege in 1759.

They posed for photos with the large, 90kg (200lb) projectile, unaware that it was still potentially explosive.

Army bomb disposal experts later collected the device, saying there was still a danger, CBC reports.

The British besieged Quebec while fighting the French at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

The cannonball in QuebecImage copyrightLAFONTAINE INC

Quebec City archaeologist Serge Rouleau, who examined the munition before the army and noticed that it still contained a charge, said it was more an incendiary bomb than a cannonball, Le Soleil news site (in French) reports.

He had taken it home after the builders’ firm, Lafontaine Inc, contacted the municipal authorities.

“The ball would break and the powder would ignite, setting fire to the building,” Master Warrant Officer Sylvain Trudel, a senior munitions technician, was quoted by CBC as saying.

Workers pose beside the cannonball in QuebecImage copyrightLAFONTAINE INC

“With time, humidity got into its interior and reduced its potential for exploding, but there’s still a danger,” he added.

“Old munitions like this are hard to predict. You never know to what point the chemicals inside have degraded.”

BBC map

The cannonball is now at a safe site and will either be disarmed or destroyed if necessary, CBC says.

It is believed it was fired at Quebec City from Levis, across the St Lawrence River, the broadcaster adds.

The Battle of the Plains of Abraham, part of the Seven Years’ War, ended in victory for the British, and was a major milestone towards the end of French rule in what is now Canada.


British Airways crew vote for Heathrow strike

British Airways crew

About 2,000 British Airways cabin crew have voted overwhelmingly for strikes in a dispute over pay, the Unite union said.

The workers, who represent about 15% of the airline’s cabin crew, were balloted about the plan to strike at Heathrow.

The vote comes after cabin crew rejected a 2% pay rise.

Strike action could begin after 21 December, but Unite has not confirmed whether the strike would affect travellers over Christmas.

BA said Unite was “creating uncertainty” for passengers.

Tensions have been running high over pay and conditions at the airline.

Some 79% of crew that took part in the ballot voted for action, Unite said, urging British Airways to return to the negotiating table.

The dispute concerns about 4,000 staff who have joined the airline since 2010 on “Mixed Fleet” contracts, who do not feel they are paid enough. About 2,500 of them are Unite members.

Earnings were advertised between £21,000 and £25,000 but, in reality, start at just over £12,000 plus £3 an hour flying pay, Unite said.

Second jobs

“Not surprisingly, the crew have rejected a 2% pay offer and on-board customer service managers are furious,” the union said.

“They do not have collective bargaining rights. The managers have also endured a six-year pay freeze.”

BA planesImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

According to a recent Unite survey, half of Mixed Fleet staff have taken on second jobs to make ends meet, and more than two-thirds were going to work “unfit to fly” because they could not afford to be off sick.

It said 84% reported experiencing stress and depression since joining BA because of their financial circumstances.

Some even admitted sleeping in cars between flights, because they could not afford the petrol to get home.

Unite regional officer Matt Smith said: “Not only are the pay rates indefensible, but in aviation, low pay is a safety issue.”

A BA spokesman said: “We are extremely disappointed that the union is creating uncertainty for our customers.

“Mixed Fleet Unite represents about 15% of our cabin crew. We remain focused on resolving this issue as quickly as possible without any disruption to customers.”

The spokesman added: “We have proposed a fair and reasonable pay increase to Mixed Fleet cabin crew which is in line with that accepted by other British Airways colleagues and which will ensure their reward levels remain in line with cabin crew at our airline competitors.”