Socialist Worker

They benefit from privatisation Fat cats who get PFI cream

Issue No. 1763

They benefit from privatisation Fat cats who get PFI cream

MOST PEOPLE in Britain are against profit making, according to a MORI poll in the Financial Times last week.

Just 29 percent of people in the survey supported the idea that big companies' profits "make things better" for everyone.

Yet New Labour is still driving through plans to hand over public services to businessmen. The top five vultures with their eyes on our schools and hospitals are:

  • Taylor Woodrow, whose chairman is Dr Robert Hawley. The firm made �201.5 million profit last year and gave Hawley a salary of �181,000.

The company is bidding for PFI contracts in hospitals, sewerage and councils.

  • Balfour Beatty, whose top director is Michael Welton. The company made �94 million profit last year, and Welton grabbed �477, 233.

Balfour Beatty already has 11 major PFI projects under its belt and wants lots more.

  • Carillon, whose chairman is Sir Neville Simms. The company is part of the Tarmac group, which made �41.9 million profit last year. Simms raked in �452,000.

The firm currently has six PFI projects under way, and has deals for a further eight projects. Carillon is shortlisted for 18 other health, prison and Ministry of Defence PFI contracts.

  • Serco, headed by chief executive Kevin Beeston. It made �37.7 million last year. Beeston's salary was �287,536.
  • Mowlem, whose top director is Dr Rolf Stomberg. Mowlem made �22.3 million in profit last year. Stomberg's salary was �110,000.

Mowlem has the �138.6 million contract for the South Tees PFI hospital, and a �10 million a year maintenance contract.

It is planning to bid for other projects in more hospitals, London Underground, the Ministry of Defence and schools.


Real job figure revealed

NEW LABOUR boasts that unemployment is falling but figures in the Financial Times last week revealed a truer picture.

There are many people not working who are not eligible for benefits. So they do not claim benefits and do not appear in the statistics.

The number of people who are categorised as "economically inactive" rose by 64,000 in the last quarter.

Had this newly inactive group been counted as unemployed, the unemployment rate would have risen to 5.9 percent from 5.5 percent.

There was a 10 percent rise in the number of men aged 35 to 49 classed as "inactive".


Child deaths on farms

THE TGWU union is including Britain in its campaign against child labour after figures revealed 26 children have been killed on British farms over the last six years.

Farmers are against any ban on child labour, claiming that it would be unrealistic and threaten the future of family-run farms.

It is cheaper for them to encourage their own children and others to work than to hire contractors.

The 26 deaths came from children being hit by moving vehicles, drowning, asphyxiation, contact with machinery and falls from great heights.


Water crisis

A WATER shortage across the world is likely to worsen over the next 25 years, according to environmentalists and scientists at a conference last week.

Some 450 million people in 29 developed and developing countries already face serious water shortages.

The crisis will be made worse because the little fresh water that is left is being polluted by industrial effluent.

World leaders and global institutions like the WTO continue to promote privatisation of water.

Yet such schemes only lead to increased charges and even more people unable to access safe water.


Nuclear rake-off

BRITISH Nuclear Fuels, the company in charge of nuclear sites like Sellafield, is demanding even more public money.

The firm says it cannot make enough profit from the dismantling of radioactive plants and disposing of nuclear waste.

Safety fears about Sellafield have already forced New Labour to delay a planned �1.5 billion sell-off of its 49 percent share in British Nuclear Fuels.

Now the company wants the government to bail it out of its present financial crisis.


Scottish schools scandal

THE BIGGEST privatisation scheme in British schools brought chaos to the start of the school year in Glasgow this week.

Every school where building work was undertaken under the PPP scheme was unfit for pupils to return.

But the Labour-controlled council, desperate not to lose face, brushed aside safety fears.

It insisted on sending 6,700 school children into what in some cases were virtually building sites. Teachers returned to Shawlands Academy last week to prepare for the start of term.

They found unfinished painting work, deep holes in playground and corridor floors and asbestos dumped in polythene bags in the middle of a classroom. There was no flooring in several areas, glass and nails all around, flooding, bare electric cables, emergency exit signs dismantled, and generators in the middle of a playground.

PPP means a code of conduct for teachers that bans them from criticising council policy. Nevertheless Glasgow teachers told Socialist Worker how laptops, PCs, video cameras, audio equipment and other valuable resources had been stolen while subcontractors were in.

One said, "New Labour's privatisation schemes are a form of vandalism. "I'm not at all surprised that that is replicated further down the line by unaccountable subcontractors hired on the cheap."

Teachers in the EIS union at Shawlands Academy refused to put children at risk and defied an instruction by education officials to open the school on Monday. Other schools left in chaos are Hillpark, St Roch's, Bannerman High, Knightswood and Whitehall.

But the local authority has vowed to press ahead with the PFI project for all 29 Glasgow secondary schools, ensuring a hefty profit for the 3E consortium which has the contract.


Long term damage of new labour's policies No grants mean empty colleges

THE government's decision to abolish student grants and impose tuition fees is driving young people away from education.

The number of vacancies at university has hit record levels. Around 6,000 newly created university places are unfilled, on top of the 10,000 places left vacant last year.

Thousands of people, especially those from working class backgrounds, do not go to university because of the fear of running up huge debts. "The spectre of debt does deter a lot of individuals, particularly those from poorer backgrounds," said Richard Brown, chief executive of the Council for Industry and Higher Education.

Just 25 percent of university students are from working class backgrounds, the same level as in the 1960s.

Already two thirds of students work during term time to make ends meet. Because college funding is based on the numbers of students studying, the vacancies crisis will also have an impact on the funds which universities receive.

Last year half the universities in Britain failed to find, enrol and keep the required number of students. This means that half of the universities in Britain now face cuts in their funding.

Even Blair's supporters at the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) have urged the government to introduce a student bursary scheme. The IPPR acknowledged, "Without changes to the system for funding individuals from non-traditional backgrounds progress will remain limited."


Blair is bosses' hot tip

"MY TIP of the month is WS Atkins. The group makes good profits from the government's Private Finance Initiative and Labour's penchant for PFI contracts is increasing.

Under the Conservatives, only 50 such deals were signed over five years. Labour has so far clinched 300 deals worth �9.5 billion." Latest issue of DIRECTOR magazine


Murdoch is the real robber from abroad

THE SUN is running a filthy campaign against a couple from Libya. The paper condemns them for using NHS resources.

Fawzia Abuhelfaia gave birth in Newcastle upon Tyne two weeks ago to sextuplets after arriving to join her husband.

To the Murdoch-owned Sun, she is another example of a "foreigner" robbing from "native British" people.

Yet this same newspaper ran a sympathetic story just two weeks previously about a badly scarred boy from Sierra Leone who was offered free plastic surgery in Britain.

New Labour's health minister Jacqui Smith stepped in to guarantee he would receive treatment after newspapers supported the boy. Nor does the Sun mention that 1,000 British patients travelled to Europe last year to get treatment.

Disgracefully Labour MP Ronnie Campbell has given in to the Sun's attacks and demanded an "investigation" into the Libyan mother.

  • A MAN drowned on Monday after jumping from a ferry headed for Dover because he was determined not to be sent back to Kosovo.

dock strike over Genoa

AROUND 150 longshoremen (dockers) and 20 iron workers at the US port of Portland in California refused to unload a cargo ship carrying Italian wine and oil last week.

It was a protest in solidarity with demonstrators who had been attacked by the Italian police at the G8 summit in Genoa.

Anti-capitalists had earlier held a picket at the port to explain their case. The fallout from Genoa continues to shake people at the top. Representatives of the World Bank and IMF have agreed to debate with anti-globalisation groups publicly at the organisations' annual meeting in Washington.

The four US-based groups lined up for the debate are Global Justice, Jobs With Justice, 50 Years Is Enough and Essential Action.


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News
Sat 25 Aug 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1763
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