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Reward of money ‘Just’ for nothing

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Issue 1757

Inside the system

Reward of money ‘Just’ for nothing

WANT TO be a millionaire without doing any work? Just follow the example of top bosses at Just2Clicks. They launched a business to business internet company on the stock market in February. Investors, mostly banks and finance companies, shovelled 50 million into the firm.

But its marketing idea proved a total dud. Now the firm is proposing to give back 33 million or so to shareholders. That leaves quite a lot left over from the original 50 million, you will have noticed.

The company’s chief executive, Karl Watkin, will walk away with around 4 million, and former operations director Graham Lowdon will get about 3.75 million. This is the reward for their “entrepreneurial spirit” and losing 34.2 million in the six months to 31 March.

As the Independent business page editor comments, “No wonder Mr Watkin wants to wind up the company. It beats working for a living any day.”

Watkin now plans to chair Data Trial, a Newcastle-based internet firm. He also chairs a business that owns the European distribution rights to ZTE’s “third generation” mobile phones. Mobile phones are, for the moment, a big loss making sector. So Watkin can probably look forward to another big payout!

Leading rail industry expert Roger Ford published a shocking report in the Modern Railways magazine recently. It showed that since rail privatisation improvements to the network cost up to three times more than under the nationalised British Rail.

Track maintenance costs have risen by 35 percent since 1997. This is due to poor management by Railtrack, growing profit demands by contractors and rising compensation payments.

Pets sy

LOOK OUT for furry animals when you travel on your holidays. Top British secret agent Sir Stephen Lander revealed how MI5 planned to catch spies in the world’s second largest arms producing country-by using gerbils.

Canadian scientists in the 1970s wanted to add these rodents to the secret service armoury. They believed the furry creatures were perfect for spycatching because they can detect increases in adrenalin from sweat. Plans were laid to station gerbils at immigration in airports near queues of travellers who were blasted with fans to sniff out suspects.

Spycatching gerbils were pioneered by the Israeli secret police and deployed at Tel Aviv airport. While no spies were caught, the gerbils put every innocent passenger terrified of flying in the frame, along with travellers carrying heavy luggage.

WHEN Labour won the 1997 election every HQ worker received a bonus of 1,100. The second term is tighter. The bonus this time was just 300.

Consortium con trick

THE consortium building the 230 million Norfolk and Norwich PFI hospital, due to open this autumn, is hoping to make an extra 70 million from the project. Octagon Healthcare consortium would grab this cash by refinancing the hospital once it is finished, according to documents seen by the Financial Times. This means borrowing the money cheaper than it originally said.

Octagon Healthcare’s shareholders include Barclays Infrastructure, Innisfree, 3iGroup, John Laing Investments and Serco. The documents show that the consortium explored the refinancing idea without informing the trust or including it in any of the gains.

Protest promotion

THE GAP has unveiled a new promotional display at stores nationwide. Faded black jeans hang in front of an anarchist red banner with the words “Independence,” “Freedom,” and “We the people” scrawled across display windows in fake black spraypaint.

Gap has been the target of anti-capitalist protests across the nation because of its use of sweatshop labour. Despite this Gap believes the growing movement against corporate power is now large enough to begin marketing.

Cowboy capers

NEW EDUCATION secretary Estelle Morris should look at her own constituency if she wants to judge the success of PFI schemes for schools. Cockshut Hill Technology College in Birmingham could not open after the half term break this summer. The problem was “new building work” under PFI which had not been completed.

Parents had to keep their children out of school for an extra week. Headmaster David Gentle said that the PFI project had seen recurring arguments between contractors, the local authority and school administrators over what would or would not be covered by the contract.

Labour U-turn

TOM SAWYER used to be the Labour Party’s general secretary. Before that he was deputy head of NUPE, one of the health unions that merged to become UNISON. He is now to become chairman of the Reed Health Group agency. He will head a firm that supplies nurses and care workers to an NHS that is being further opened up to private companies.

Turkish delight

A SECURITY guard who had been sacked took 20,000 from the bank where he used to work in Istanbul, Turkey, and handed the money to people in the street as a protest.

The police admitted that the man was demonstrating against the austerity programme which has seen a catastrophic fall in Turkish workers’ living standards. Bank management tried to get the money back but recovered only just over 3,000.

ABBEY National mistakenly paid some of its customers cheques averaging 20,000 recently. It is now trying to recover the money, and is tempting the “overpaid” to return it by offering the tremendous incentive of a 10 Marks & Spencer gift voucher.

Things they say

“I DO not think we impress the public if we set too low a value on our own worth. I do believe that we should not sell ourselves short. We should not shrink from putting a proper value on it.”

  • ROBIN COOK, justifying a 4,000 a year pay rise for MPs

“WE TOOK action to secure economic stability, not boom and bust.”

  • Chancellor GORDON BROWN to tgwu union conference, 5 July

“THE downturn in the world economy has not reached its bottom… No country can be insulated.”

  • GORDON BROWN on his way to a G7 finance meeting, 7 July

“WE HAVE a recession in the US. It is coming to Europe. It is already here.”

  • MARK DIXON, head of the Regus company, former billionaire and tenth richest man in Britain, after his fortune fell by 250 million in one day

“THE DRUGS war is unwinnable, costly and counter-productive.”

  • SIR KEITH MORRIS, Britain’s former ambassador to Colombia

“IT WAS worse than anything I faced during the miners’ strike.”

  • POLICE OFFICER on the attack on the British base in Cyprus

“IT’S A recipe for confrontation. Company members on boards of governors could sack anyone they wanted. I think it must be financially very dubious and lead to corruption.”

  • Labour education chairman of the Local Government Association GRAHAM LANE on Labour’s plans to bring in private companies to run school boards

“I would personally now advise any individual thinking of going into nursing to reverse that decision unless they have some desire to personally abuse themselves.”

  • Top neurologist DR MICHAEL GROSS

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