Socialist Worker

Old people suffer new heartbreak

Issue No. 1867

GEORGE AND Mary Lipsham were inseparable for 60 years. But two years ago they were put in different care homes when Mary developed dementia.

Retired docker George, now 84, could visit his wife every day because social services paid the £26 for his cab.

Now Portsmouth council says it will no longer pay.

George's son John says, 'If he can't go on seeing her, he just doesn't want to go on.'

Daughter Josephine says, 'He wanted to be at her side until the end of their days and he's heartbroken he can't be.'

THE FRENCH Tory government were slammed when up to 14,000 people, many elderly and frail, died during the recent heatwave.

Outrageously, the government is now trying to use the tragedy as an excuse to cancel one of France's bank holidays.

President Jacques Chirac and his government tried to blame ordinary French people for being too obsessed with holidays to look after elderly relatives.

They want to cut a national holiday and grab the extra social security payments to start a fund for elderly care.

The chair of the employers' federation agrees, saying it would be a 'great novelty in France to believe that problems can be solved by working harder'.

But the elderly victims died because of staff shortages, the government's slow reaction to the crisis and the closure of hundreds of local, cottage hospitals.

Figure it out - 25k

EVERY year 25,000 people have to give up work because of accidents at work and ill health. Forty million working days a year are lost due to work-related illness-a huge rise since New Labour were elected.

Text tycoon face-off

REMEMBER the 1,000 workers sacked by text message from the Accident Group this May?

They lost their jobs and a month's pay.

Boss Mark Langford said he was too skint to help. But he has been caught sunning himself in Spain and now ex-workers are due to fly out and confront him.

Ed Humphrey says, 'We know where he lives and want to step on his toes. We want to spoil his lifestyle. We saw him pictured on his yacht-they have totally ripped us off and now they're rubbing our faces in it.'

Make mine a double, waiter

A NEW craze is sweeping the posh hotels of west London-it's the water cocktail, one dash Evian, two shakes of Mountain Spring.

The London Marriot Hotel, in ultra-smart Park Lane, offers a special menu featuring 15 different waters.

The favourite is Voss, from Norway, at just £7.50 a throw.

They all died happily ever after

DISNEY - FAMOUS for its cheesy family entertainment-has bought a cremation business called Neptune.

Roy P Disney, son of the vice chair, bought Neptune which carried out 1 percent of US cremantions last year.

It just shows that capitalists will turn to anything to make profits.

No level playing field at Eton

CHILDREN BORN this year and destined for elite private schools in years to come will cost their maters and paters a modest £129,000, says a new survey.

Financial analysts JP Morgan Fleming say the figure rises to £300,000 if the parents want to farm the kids out to boarding schools. Eton College already charges £20,100 a year.

Bosses encourage strikes

YOU KNOW how your boss makes you see red-now you know everyone else feels the same.

Grasping bosses who pay themselves millions make us want to strike, according to a new report.

Business research company Croner says 96 percent of personnel officers believe greedy executives are to blame for lousy morale.

Richard Smith of Croner says, 'Alarmingly, employee relations-a priority for any business-is suffering. This can have repercussions in many areas, including morale, motivation, staff retention, absenteeism and, ultimately, decreased productivity or even strike action.'

Smith says bosses spend too much time worrying about shareholders and not enough worrying about keeping employees happy.

To back up the survey's findings, news of staff problems at a government body surfaced last week. Ofcom is the new media and communications watchdog, to be launched in December.

Chief executive Stephen Carter was awarded £350,000 to run the department. An insider says, 'This has caused bad blood. Civil servants are leaving in droves.'

Essential cleaners

A CASH-strapped hospital is asking top consultants including surgeons, who earn as much as £93,000 a year, to empty bins and clean up rooms.

Bosses at Milton Keynes General Hospital have stopped recruiting workers to take on 'non-essential' jobs after a £7 million overspend last year.

The doctors are reeling with shock, but the real scandal is that key health workers, like cleaners, are considered 'non-essential'.

Patients' groups warn of the massive threat to health posed by dirty wards and lack of hygiene.

Five thousand hospital patients die every year from infections picked up in hospitals. Infections acquired in hospital cost the NHS £985 million.

And it's not just cutbacks in cleaning that pose a health risk.

Junior doctors too busy to take time off when they are sick also run a risk of infecting people.

According to researchers from St George's Hospital, Tooting, more than two thirds said they had to continue working even when they had an infectious illness such as diarrhoea and vomiting.

IN THIS WEEK snapshots from history - 90 YEARS AGO

Dublin 1913 Protests swept the city as part of a great wave of industrial unrest led by James Larkin. Some 30,000 transport workers refused to sign an anti-union pledge.

Their defiance sparked a huge wave of international solidarity that saw English dockers blacking Irish goods and collections taken in workplaces across Britain.

Who says?

'When you consider that you can obtain a waste product from a slaughterhouse and turn it into a profit, you sometimes wonder if there is more money in meat than in drugs.'
DET INSP NEIL PERRY who led the police operation on the illegal trade in rotten meat

'Loyal, brave and audacious.'
NEIL KINNOCK former Labour leader on Alastair Campbell

'Among the film's messages were that well honed tactics and superior force are no substitute for a coherent strategy.'
FINANCIAL TIMES on the Pentagon's screening of The Battle of Algiers, about the 1954-62 Algerian war, in which the resistance overwhelmed French forces and kicked them out of the country

'Imagine if on land we were to plough up everywhere. But we don't-we protect large areas. Yet with the sea we're ploughing it all up.'
PROFESSOR CALLUM ROBERTS marine biologist on the catastrophic decline in fish stocks

'It has lost its reputation as a world class export credit agency and is in the relegation zone. Urgent action is needed if the ECGD is to regain the confidence of business.'
JOHN CRIDLAND deputy director general of the CBI on the future of the ECGD which underwrites arms sales

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 6 Sep 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1867
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