Socialist Worker

Milan tragedy: Airport didn't install radar

Issue No. 1771

ONE TRAGEDY that didn't get the amount of coverage it deserved recently was the plane disaster at Milan airport that killed 118 people. A passenger plane smashed into a smaller private jet in foggy conditions because the airport's ground radar had not been working for years.

Scandalously, a Norwegian-made ground radar was delivered to Milan's Linate airport in 1996, but was never installed. Another key factor behind the disaster was the huge growth in private business jets in recent years, and the lack of proper control over these planes.

Linate had no separate runway for the small planes that the rich use to jet around the globe. Menico Snider, of the Italian Airline Pilots Association, says, 'Linate has become risky with no ground radar and no taxiways reserved for private planes.'

'Air taxis, corporate planes and private executive jets dominate the skies,' admitted Italy's National Flight Security Agency in the wake of the disaster. Over 91 percent of aircraft registered in Italy are now such planes.

Church of holy profits

THE government's plans for more religious faith schools has seen the press criticise the wave of 'minority' religious schools that would crop up. But the fact is that the biggest groups pushing for religious schools are Christian churches.

Already the Church of England and the Catholic church run far more schools than any other religious groups. The Church Schools Company already runs eight private schools in Britain. It now wants to take over state schools.

The company insists that it appoints governors of all its schools, and that heads meet with 'company executives' once a month to plan policy, and that the company hires all staff.

THE health gap between rich and poor is widening in London and across Britain. This is the stark conclusion of two new reports. 'A baby boy born in one of the poorest boroughs, Newham, is likely to die nearly six years earlier than a baby boy born in Westminster, one of the richest boroughs,' says a report by the official London Health Observatory.

The report concludes, 'If current trends continue, by 2010 inequality will be even greater.'

Another study by the Barnado's children's homes charity found that in the south west of England 132,000 of the 500,000 children in the area studied were living in families at or below the government's official poverty line.

Lord Renwick's equal standards

A TOP New Labour lord is on the board of a mining multinational which is viciously attacking its striking workers in Mozambique and South Africa. Lord Renwick is on the board of mining multinational Billiton.

The firm's Mozambican subsidiary faced a strike by 1,500 workers at an aluminium plant over wages and housing allowances.

It responded by bringing in 350 scabs from South Africa, and by securing the arrest of Mozambican shop stewards who had backed the strike.

Around 8,000 Billiton workers in South Africa are now threatening a solidarity strike with their Mozambican counterparts.

In a separate dispute, 5,000 mining workers at a South African subsidiary of Billiton were also last week locked out by management after threatening to strike for decent wages.

Renwick is also on the board of another company threatening its workers, British Airways.

Tally-ho turmoil

THERE is some cheery news from the Countryside Alliance, the right wing group which campaigns to defend foxhunting. It is in a financial crisis after having cancelled its misnamed Liberty and Livelihood March earlier this year.

It has lost over £200,000 as a result, and is now having to sack several of its regional organisers.

Russian e-mail

BOSSES AT a Cambridgeshire firm have found a highly original way to sack people. Staff at UbiNetics Bjorn Kryland were called to a meeting and told there would be 15 redundancies.

They were then told to go back to their desks and the 15 facing the chop would find out who they were via an e-mail. A spokesperson for the company, which employs 300 staff, argued, 'We decided the right way was by e-mail. I don't think we could have handled it better.' Workers disagree. 'It was extraordinarily callous,' said one.

Multinational consigns thousands to death

A GIANT multinational is denying life saving drugs to its low paid workers while making them available to people at the top.

Anglo American, the mining corporation whose main operations are in South Africa, had originally pledged that all staff in South Africa would get drugs to combat AIDS.

AIDS is at epidemic proportions in the country. One in five of Anglo American's South African workers are HIV positive. The senior staff will still get the drugs. But the 150,000 low paid miners will be denied the drugs, condemning many to death. 'We feel the cost will be greater than the saving,' says Anglo American executive Brian Brink.

Things they say

'GET INSIDE and close the door. If you're still worried, get in the shower.'
AMY SMITHSON, of the US military think-tank the Stimson Center, on what people should do in the event of chemical or biological warfare attacks

'THE AIRLINES had been bleeding red, losing money hand over fist. They needed to get rid of employees... Now the airlines can say, 'The devil made me do it. Bin Laden-he's the one who made me lay off all these people'.'
PROFESSOR CHRISTOPHER THORNBERG of the University of California

'FOR THE first time we congratulate the Palestinian Authority for taking the measures which it promised to implement against terrorists.'
RAANAN GISSIN, Israeli spokesman, after the Palestinian Authority shot dead a 13 year old boy protesting against the war

'SHE'D left Afghanistan, so she was able to describe what it was like living under the Taliban regime, and in particular their absolutely abhorrent treatment of women. This was an example of somebody who could really talk first hand about the Taliban regime.'
TONY BLAIR, on Najiba Kasree, a reporter for BBC World Service who left Afghanistan ten years ago, before the Taliban came to power

'THE contracting industry in the 1980s and some of the 1990s had a bad reputation, some of it deserved, for only being interested in cutting costs.'
NORMAN ROSE, Business Services Association chief

'BLAIR'S speech left a bitter taste in my mouth. He was overacting, grandstanding.'
LOUIS MICHEL, Belgian foreign minister and EU spokesman

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 20 Oct 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1771
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