Socialist Worker

In brief

Issue No. 1798

Railtrack in the skies

AIR TRAFFIC control is back in financial trouble. Just two months after the last bailout, the part-privatised National Air Traffic Service (NATS) is looking to make ordinary people pay to get it out of a hole. Business backers are threatening to pull the plug on the part-privatised service.

NATS got a £30 million bailout from taxpayers in February, after the bankers that loaned the privatisers £800 million threatened to pull out. Now NATS is set to ask the government for more money.

Which is the day job?

TORY MPs have halted a plan to stop MPs taking extra jobs. They want to continue raking the cash in by sitting on the boards of companies. Over 100 Tory MPs, 66 percent, have other jobs. MPs get £55,118 a year. They do not have to reveal how much they make outside parliament.

Some 30 of Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith's shadow cabinet have 71 other jobs between them. Tory MPs threatened to waste time during Labour MP Peter Bradley's proposed bill to ban MPs from 'moonlighting'. He has withdrawn the bill.

CBI: don't cut hours

THE BOSSES' CBI organisation has called on New Labour to ensure British workers aren't covered by the European Union (EU) directive that would limit the amount of hours worked. The EU has given New Labour two months to sign up to the working time directive, which limits the working week to 48 hours.

Some four million workers in Britain work over 48 hours a week. One and a half million people work over 55 hours a week. British workers work 43.6 hours a week on average-the longest hours in Europe. The wrong standards AN undercover investigation by Channel 4 News at four London hospitals found appalling levels of dirt and lack of basic hygiene. Yet all of the hospitals are said to have adequate or even excellent standards of cleanliness under a government health inspection scheme.

Donors' unhealthy profit

NEW LABOUR'S business donors are set to make vast profits exploiting government policy. Millionaire Gavyn Davies is the government-appointed chairman of the BBC and a close friend of chancellor Gordon Brown. Davies is also one of New Labour's business donors. He spent around £1 million on a 54 percent stake in UKprocure, an internet company supplying the NHS.

The company is set to make mega-profits following the government's decision to make the health service order its equipment online. Former general secretary of the Labour Party Lord Sawyer is chairman of the recruitment agency making £5 million a year supplying the short staffed NHS with workers.

Viglen, a company owned by Labour donor Alan Sugar, has been added to an approved list of government suppliers. A host of New Labour's other business donors are profiting from the NHS. They include Sir Rohan Cohen, chair of the venture capital firm Apax, and GlaxoSmithKline multinational company director Robert Mansfield. Paul Drayson of Powderject gave £50,000 to Blair's party. His company has been given a £32 million government contract. As these links came to light an internet poll revealed that 49 percent of people believe New Labour is 'not honest'.

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Article information

Sat 4 May 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1798
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