Socialist Worker

In brief

Issue No. 1729

RESEARCH BY the Health and Safety Executive, due to be published later this month, has uncovered intolerable working conditions and stress levels at call centres.

Press reports say that the study has identified a catalogue of physical and emotional problems among staff in call centres. These include hearing problems and voice loss. 'Hot desking', which means workers continually have to move desks, has resulted in back and other muscular injuries.

PRIVATE FIRMS are raking in extra profits from a financial scam in Private Finance Initiative (PFI) projects. Parliament's National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee have both slammed the government for allowing firms such as Group 4 to double the profits they expect to make from PFI schemes.

Firms can sign deals to build schools, hospitals and prisons, and then lease them to the public sector. They can then refinance the deals on the money markets in such a way that projected profits soar. In 69 percent of PFI deals the government has allowed this to happen without a penny of the extra profits coming back to the public sector.

STUDENT DEBT has trebled since New Labour axed the student grant and imposed tuition fees. A government-sponsored study by London's South Bank University and the NOP market research organisation has found that nearly nine out of ten students are in serious financial difficulties. Average student debt has gone up from £777 in 1996 to £2,473 in 1999. The government dismissed the report.

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Sat 6 Jan 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1729
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