Socialist Worker

They can't even save themselves

Issue No. 1823

SOLDIERS ON standby to scab on striking firefighters had to be rescued from a blaze last week by the workers they are supposed to replace. The Princess of Wales Royal Regiment was forced to call its local brigade when a fire started in the barracks.

More than 50 trained army firefighters were asleep as flames engulfed their dormitory. Instead of manning the hoses they waited for the real experts to arrive. Firefighters could barely disguise their glee as the soldiers' helplessness showed the importance of properly trained and skilled staff. One firefighter said, 'If the army cannot deal with a fire in its own building, how will they tackle major incidents like we do?'


Crisis firms favoured

BLACK & Decker recently announced that it was cutting 1,000 jobs at its Spennymoor plant near Tony Blair's constituency. Black & Decker received £1.3 million in regional selective assistance grants 'for safeguarding employment' in 1999.


PRIVATISED firms have plunged Britain's electricity supply into crisis with the possibility of power cuts. One of the companies involved is TXU. TXU sponsored a meeting at the Labour Party conference, featuring energy minister Brian Wilson, on the subject of 'energy mis-selling'.


THE Bertelsmann publishing empire was rocked recently when it was revealed the firm had collaborated with the Nazis by publishing anti-Semitic literature. It was the German army's biggest publisher during the Second World War. One of its executives was an SS member.

The owners, the Mohn family, had claimed that it had been a 'subversive' force and had been closed down by the Nazis. Reinhard Mohn is the central figure in the company today. He is writing a book called The Societal Responsibility of the Entrepreneur.


DIGBY Jones, director general of the bosses' CBI, gave the game away over PFI privatisation last week. Jones said, 'In the two-tier workforce debate the government must reject any call for private sector providers to become carbon copies of public sector employees. What is the point of that?' Jones need not worry.

Deputy prime minister John Prescott speaking at the same conference said private employers should set 'fair and reasonable' wages but they need not replicate public sector pay and conditions.


Don't get one in the eye

US ROBOCOPS may soon have a new weapon in their fight against anti-capitalist protesters.

A new laser being developed is claimed to be more accurate than teargas or plastic bullets and can be fired from two kilometres away. This Pulsed Energy Projectile received $3,173,000 in funding from the US government last year.

The laser heats the surrounding air so fast it explodes, causing a shock wave. It vaporises the first thing it hits, hopefully your shirt, but maybe your skin. A recent article in National Defence magazine said that a laser shot in the eye would be like 'having a grenade go off in your eye socket'.


Danger at work

LESS THAN a quarter of all major injuries in the construction industry are investigated by the Health and Safety Executive. A report published last week showed that just 1,073 of 4,636 construction incidents reported were investigated.

HSE inspections to construction sites have also plummeted by 52 percent over the last five years. Inspectors made 37,774 site visits in 1996-7 but this figure slumped to 17,908 in 2000-1. Workplace inspections fell by 41 percent.


Renting control

TENANTS ARE supposed to enjoy new opportunities for democratic participation when their homes are taken from council control and given to housing associations.

Anyone who believes that should look at the experience of two tenant members of the Canalside Community Board in Hackney, east London. They were suspended from the board for three months in September for refusing to end a campaign against plans to rent out 47 flats to 'key workers' with rent increases of around £50 a week. They were also critical of proposals to end a guarantee which held down rents for new tenants.


The anti-war movement driving in the right lane

ANTI-WAR protesters in Bristol have found a novel way to turn road markings at bus stops into campaigning tools. Maybe it will spread in the run-up to the 31 October day of action?
Thanks to Eamonn Kelly.


Things they say

'I AM not attacking asylum seekers and have never mentioned asylum seekers. There was a clear discrepancy in what I said and what appeared in the Daily Mail.'
Falklands veteran Simon Weston attacks the Mail for claiming he had criticised grants to refugee organisations from the lottery fund

'LORD Williams thought it was more important to be with his dog at the competition than at a cabinet meeting. He left cabinet early but didn't tell Tony Blair why he was going.'
Judge at the Westminster Dog of the Year Prize on the priorities of the Labour leader of the Lords, Lord Williams of Mostyn

'THERE IS no way wildly unrealistic pay claims can be met.'
Rupert Murdoch's Sun editorial on the firefighters

'£7 million.'
Amount paid to Tony Bell, boss of Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB

'NO ONE should be under any illusions that Saddam will give up the weapons he is not supposed to have simply because the UN passes another resolution.'
Paul Wolfowitz, US deputy defence secretary

'IRAQ DOES not any longer have any weapons of mass destruction because they have all been eliminated.'
Silvio Berlusconi, Italian prime minister

'OUR record bears out that we seek no territory, we seek no dominance, we seek friends.'
Colin Powell, US Secretary of State

'PEOPLE ON all sides died and this is to be avoided in the future.'
Lord Montgomery, son of General Montgomery, speaking out against war on Iraq


If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Article information

Inside the System
Sat 26 Oct 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1823
Share this article


Tags



Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.