Socialist Worker

A message in a brick

Issue No. 1691

Inside the system

A message in a brick

SACKED STAFF at Ibstock Bricks have won Inside the System's Bolshy Workers of the Week award. The 17 staff, who were made redundant from the Kingswinford factory in the Midlands in December, took sweet revenge on their bosses. The workers' last act was to create a batch of 30,000 bricks with the word "bollocks" stamped on the side instead of the company's name. Factory bosses did not notice the word had been indented on the bricks until puzzled customers began to ring in. The consignment was worth �40,000. The bricks have now become prized items, reportedly changing hands for �5 each on the black market!

'I can live on �93' says fat cat

MILLIONAIRE and Dome minister Lord Falconer was visiting a day centre in Southampton last week when he was asked by pensioner Grace Allan whether he could live on �93 a week-the total she receives.

Lord Falconer was stumped for a smooth answer at the time. But away from Grace Allan's wrath he told reporters, "I think I could. I have four children and a wife. Six of us? I think we would have difficulty. But if I lived on my own, I think I probably would." Facts you need to know: (1) Falconer lives in an �800,000 house in Islington. (2) On top of his fortune as a barrister he gets �64,000 a year as a minister. (3) All his children were educated at public school at a cost of �25,000 a year. (4) Falconer is driven around in a chauffeur driven Mercedes. (5) He is known as a "claret and sticky puddings man" who has put on two stone since he joined the cabinet.

A leg up for arms sellers

THE BRITISH government is dragging its feet over international laws to stop big companies such as arms manufacturers offering bribes to win foreign contracts. So far 20 governments have agreed to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development convention to combat bribery. The British government has not. This is despite British firms being on the World Bank's list of companies banned from receiving contracts because of bribery.

Anti-bribery experts say the reason is that the British government is all for "crony capitalism" if it benefits British firms. As one expert put it, "It could be a reluctance to disadvantage UK plc." Another says that signing the convention would put out British arms traders who regularly pay big "commissions".

Time is money for the wealthy

EVERY Socialist Worker reader will be delighted to hear that times are good for the luxury end of the watch market. Sales of Swiss timepieces to the super-rich are up by a quarter. Chances are you didn't make it to last weekend's Salon Internationale de la Haute Horlogerie (posh watch fair) in Geneva. Rolex is now marketing its luxury diamond studded Oyster model for a mere �47,000.

Of course you could get the downmarket "basic version" for a snip of a price at �1,400. You could put a bid in for Jaeger-Le Coultre's Reverso Cabochons, launched this month, with its "104 brilliants". Auction prices are rocketing. A Patek Phillipe went for $11 million at Sotheby's in New York last year.

THE Daily Mail has fallen foul of the law in its witch-hunt against asylum seekers. The newspaper has had to be restrained from harassing an asylum seeker. The Mail was forced to agree to stop harassing the man after facing prosecution under the new "stalking act".

A quarter of Metropolitan Police emergency vehicles have been taken off the road for safety checks in the wake of the growing concern over the number of people killed or injured by speeding police cars. Metropolitan Police commissioner John Stevens has now ordered 800 cars and 200 motorbikes off the road amid fears that maintenance work carried out by a private company was not up to scratch. The vehicles are maintained by private company Venson, which won a seven year contract for the work less than 12 months ago.

Imprudent without purpose

MAGISTRATES ARE the people Jack Straw wants to decide your court case instead of juries. We're told they are fine upstanding members of society. But not in Philip Watkin's case. The Bridlington magistrate was fined �400 and banned from driving for 18 months after being found guilty of drink driving on budget day. Watkin was at home downing the gin and tonics and doing his gardening when he heard that Gordon Brown had just put 2p on petrol. Watkin jumped in his Ford Mondeo and rushed to the petrol station. A public spirited member of staff smelled the alcohol on Watkin's breath and tipped off the police. The magistrate was found to be two and a half times over the limit.

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Sat 8 Apr 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1691
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