- HUNDREDS OF workers face job cuts as two giant employers announced redundancies last week. Marconi, Britain's largest phone equipment maker, said it would slash up to 1,200 jobs as they transfer work to subcontractors. British Airways, another major employer, also announced last week that its reorganisation would cost several thousand jobs. Meanwhile Ford workers at the company's Dagenham plant in east London are set to ballot later this month on strikes. They are fighting thousands of job losses threatened by Ford's plan to end car assembly at the plant.
- THE BIG road haulage firms look set to get a handout in chancellor Gordon Brown's pre-budget statement later this month. The companies and industry wide bodies like the Freight Transport Association moaned that fuel duties were eating into their profits. New Labour looks set to give in to business pressure. The existing "red diesel" scheme gives farmers and some in the construction industry 42 pence off the standard duty per litre. This scheme may now be extended to hauliers. "Targeting the red diesel scheme at hauliers seems like a sensible way forward. It is certainly more sensible than just letting anybody have a reduction," said a senior government source.
- THE BIG five supermarket chains are all current members, or have been in the past, of the Freight Transport Association. The Freight Transport Association demands fuel duty concessions whilst the supermarkets rip off the small farmers it claimed to be standing alongside during the recent protests. Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Safeway and Somerfield control more than 75 percent of supermarket grocery purchases and squeeze their suppliers savagely, says the government's own Competition Commission. Farmer Martin Evans in Pembroke, for example, got just 3.4 pence for every pound of potatoes compared to the 28 pence Tesco charged at its Pembroke superstore. "There appeared to us to be a climate of fear among many suppliers in their relationship with the supermarkets," the commission concludes.