Socialist Worker

Bosses fear we can sink privatisation

by Hazel Croft
Issue No. 1761

PROTESTS COULD 'kill off' the government's Private Finance Initiative (PFI). That is the fear of John Gains, chief executive of construction firm John Mowlem. The giant firm is a key player in PFI projects in hospitals, schools, councils and transport around Britain.

Private firms are terrified of the gathering storm of protest against PFI. Attacking PFI has become a 'national sport', moans Gains. He is terrified that private firms won't be able to screw enough profit from public services as protests gain momentum.

Gains is dismayed that the government has agreed to review the terms of workers whose jobs are sold off to private firms under PFI. The ten month long series of strikes by ancillary workers at Dudley Group of Hospitals forced the government to promise this review. New Labour deputy prime minister John Prescott made it clear at the weekend that the government is still determined to push on with its privatisation plans.

The government is prepared to override the opinions of nine out of ten voters who oppose letting private firms get their hands on public services. This has caused outrage even among Labour MPs and trade union leaders who have previously kept quiet about New Labour's neo-liberal agenda. The GMB general union has already slashed £1 million from the funds it gives to the Labour Party.

Last week a report by the union exposed how PFI is costing taxpayers billions of pounds. It found the cost of the first 14 PFI hospitals had soared to 70 percent over initial budget. The cost of the 'flagship' PFI scheme at University College London Hospitals in London has rocketed from £115 million to £404 million. Private firms are already set to bleed over £3.4 billion profits from the NHS over the next 30 years.

If Blair gets his way and rams more PFI schemes through, these private sharks stand to get even more public money at the expense of services and staff. There could be no better time to step up the battle against New Labour's reckless privatisation of public services.

There is a brilliant opportunity to do exactly that in Brighton on Sunday 30 September.

The anti-capitalist group Globalise Resistance, the Green Party and the Socialist Alliance have called for a mass demonstration against privatisation outside the Labour Party conference.

The protest is backed by journalist and campaigner George Monbiot, and Mark Serwotka, general secretary elect of the civil servants' PCS union. The demonstration can be an important new step in the growing global movement against capitalism, and can bring the spirit of Seattle and Genoa to Britain.

It is a chance to unite everyone who hates Tony Blair's neo-liberal agenda-environmentalists and trade unionists, current Labour Party members and former Labour members, pensioners and CND activists. If we all unite we can build a massive protest and launch a movement to make the bosses' fears come true and kill off privatisation.

Action stations for Labour demo

THERE ARE seven weeks to go until 30 September. That is seven weeks to get as many people as possible to join the Brighton protest.

Urge your national campaign or trade union leaders to back the protest.

Get your union branch, campaign, community or pensioners' group to back the demonstration and organise transport to Brighton.

Get tickets produced to sell to your workmates, friends and neighbours.

Hold a meeting at your workplace or in your local community centre to get support. If people can't go on the day get them to make a contribution to help others to go.

Go round your estate or street. Get neighbours to put up posters and help sell tickets to get to Brighton.

Get together with other people in your area to publicise the demo. Why not hold a stall in the town centre or organise some street theatre?

To add your name, trade union branch or campaign to the list of supporters, phone 020 8980 3005 or visit

Model motions for trade unions and other groups are also available.

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Article information

Sat 11 Aug 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1761
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