Corporations and AIDS
A NEW United Nations report out this week blames big business for worsening the spread of HIV throughout the world’s poorest countries.
Multinationals have created the economic conditions which allow the virus to spread.
The report, from the UN Research Institute for Social Development, implicates the corporations in driving down commodity prices, encouraging overproduction which has led to poverty.
HIV now infects more than 40 million people worldwide.
Means-tested baby bonds
THE GOVERNMENT’S new “baby bond” could be counted against means-tested benefits, the Treasury admitted last week.
The government will pay £250 into a fund for every child born after September 2002. This will be £500 for children from low income families.
Relatives will be able to contribute up to £1,200 a year to the fund, which the child will be able to access at the age of 18.
Tories keep Section 28
NEW LABOUR finally repealed the anti-gay Section 28 law this week.
The Tories introduced Section 28, which banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in local authorities, in 1988. This meant that schools and libraries felt unable to discuss, or stock books on, homosexuality.
Tory-run Kent County Council has become the only council to keep the spirit of Section 28 by enshrining it in the curriculum of its 600 schools.
Rover man slammed
THE PHOENIX group that bought out the troubled MG Rover car maker in Birmingham in 1999 came under attack this week.
Rover paid £12.5 million into the pension fund for its 6,600 workers. The five Phoenix directors meanwhile shared £12.95 million for their own pensions.
They also benefited from a £10 million loan note, which brought in £1.2 million in interest over 2001 and 2002.
Rover’s main pension fund is underfunded by £72.9 million.
Tony Woodley, the general secretary of the TGWU and a key supporter of the buyout, is worried about a “rip-off” by directors.
Former allies of businessman John Towers, who heads Phoenix, are now also threatening to sue him.
Liberal Democrat politician John Hemming and Birmingham broadcaster and historian Carl Chinn were key backers of Towers, helping mobilise support for his bid to take over Rover.
Now they are furious that directors are paying millions in to their own pensions while the workers’ pension scheme is in deficit.