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OFF BEAT: Best of May

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Skimpy shirts leave Virgin staff feeling exposed


Virgin Trains, owned by Virgin Group Ltd. mogul Sir Richard Branson, is in dispute with its employees over uniforms that leave little to the imagination.

Female staff of Virgin Trains said the blouses, part of the new uniforms that were to launch Wednesday, are reportedly “skimpy” and “revealing” and would allow male passengers to discern the color of the bra worn underneath.

The launch of the new uniforms has been delayed three weeks after the complaints that the blouses are too “flimsy,” according to news reports.

To accommodate female staffers, Virgin is reportedly offering approximately $30 for employees to purchase light-colored bras that won't show through the material.

“Our female staff are upset because they feel Sir Richard is cutting corners by asking them to wear flimsy blouses which are skimpy,” Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association trade union told the Evening Standard.

“Female employees who are concerned about the new blouse will be offered a £20 ($31) voucher to buy suitable undergarments,” said Andy Cross, Virgin's business support director, on a staff website. “To allow time for employees to ensure that they have a uniform they feel comfortable in, the official launch day has been extended to May 27.”

Virgin reportedly said that 500 staff members were involved in the design and the uniforms were made using similar materials used by other retail companies.