Socialist Worker



27 September 2003
UP TO 150 school students walked out of Harwich School on Thursday of last week. They organised their strike in support of a campaign against the effective privatisation of health facilities, including the maternity ward, in Harwich, Essex.


20 September 2003
HUNDREDS OF cleaners, porters and catering staff at Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride are to ballot for strike action. Hairmyres is one of New Labour's flagship PFI hospitals. The workers are fuming at their bosses, ISS Mediclean, and at government ministers. The hospital has been lambasted for having too few beds, sewerage leaks, losing patient records and failing IT systems following privatisation.

Energy giant leaves millions in the dark

06 September 2003
THE BLACKOUT that hit London and the south east of England last week was another vivid reminder of the madness of privatisation and spending curbs.

Love music-hate racism

06 September 2003
LOVE MUSIC-hate racism, privatisation and war! That was the message ringing out over the grassy slopes by the sea at Tankerton, Kent, on Sunday.

Prepare for crown duel

23 August 2003
WORKERS AT Peckham Crown Post Office and Camberwell Green Crown Post Offices in south London have launched campaigns to stop their offices being privatised and downgraded. The 30 people employed in the two offices have over 300 years experience serving the community. CWU union assistant sectional secretary Steve Whale said, "We were only informed of the privatisation when the press rang our union room for our comments."

Opposite of a Blairite selection meeting

09 August 2003
A LEFT challenge to New Labour was launched at a vibrant convention of the left in the Brent East constituency last week. Over 90 people attended the meeting in west London in the run-up to a by-election in the area. Everyone there was determined to build an alternative to Tony Blair's pro-war, pro-privatisation policies.

Judge them by the companies they keep

26 July 2003
THE GOVERNMENT insists that its foundation hospitals plans have nothing to do with privatisation of the NHS. But the attendance list at a government-sponsored conference on "Foundation Hospitals: The Way Forward" last month tells a different story. The two-day gathering took place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, and details were revealed in Private Eye magazine. Delegates paid £816 a head to hear various officials from the Treasury and the health department.

Beacon for those who hate Blair

26 July 2003
ASIANS WHO have traditionally voted Labour, already angry about the war on Iraq, privatisation and the demonisation of Islam, are even angrier after being snubbed again. The Labour Party has narrowly selected the Blairite MEP Robert Evans instead of Shahid Malik as their candidate for Brent East. The election may be as early as September.

Chief plunderer goes to poorest continent

12 July 2003
"GEORGE BUSH is coming to South Africa with his hands dripping with the fresh blood of Iraqi people. When they roll out the red carpet for him, it will be to hide the bloodstains." That's how Trevor Ngwane, the leading South African anti-privatisation activist, summed up what Bush's tour of Africa means.

A warning to the gaffers

12 July 2003
THE CONFERENCE of the TGWU manual workers' union in Brighton last week provided further evidence of the shift to the left amongst rank and file trade unionists. Many delegates spoke about the reality of their working lives (see page 7). Almost every motion at the biannual conference was critical of New Labour, whether it was foundation hospitals, privatisation, the war, anti trade union laws or low pay.


28 June 2003
THE GOVERNMENT has admitted that its Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) are a staging post towards full privatisation of council housing. ALMOs were introduced by the government in the face of opposition from tenants and trade unionists to the handover of council homes to housing associations and private companies.


28 June 2003
Brutal policy against the elderly in homes RAGE, the Relatives Action Group for the Elderly, is maintaining its fight. The campaign works with families, unions and community organisations to stop the rationalisation of public sector care homes for older people. Research produced by RAGE in 2001 revealed that up to 450 care homes and day centres were threatened by either closure, privatisation or transfer/partnership.

Scandal as 102 year old faces eviction

21 June 2003
A 102 year old woman in Kent faces eviction from her care home because she can't afford to pay the increased fees. Winifred Humphrey is a victim of the privatisation of care for the elderly. Over 86 percent of care homes are in private sector hands. They are run as a business with high fees for residents and low pay for staff. This is the reality of Blair's "modernisation" of public services.

Defend Council Housing

07 June 2003
OVER 100 council tenants took part in the Defend Council Housing national conference in Liverpool on Saturday of last week. They were joined by trade unionists, councillors and MPs to discuss how to step up pressure on the government to stop privatisation and invest in council housing - with no strings attached.

India - 50 million strike at privatisation

31 May 2003
UP TO 50 million Indian public sector workers joined a powerful one-day strike in protest against government privatisation plans on Wednesday of last week. Workers in banking, insurance, the post office, transport and mining joined the action ensuring major disruption nationwide. For the second time this month, a strike has hit the financial sector particularly hard.

Bechtel in London to carve up Iraq

24 May 2003
BECHTEL, THE biggest vulture to have got its claws into Iraq since the invasion, planned to be in London on Friday this week. It wanted to hand out a few scraps to British firms linked to government projects here. Bechtel is a byword for ruthless privatisation. The US government has given it the principal contract, worth $680 million, to "reconstruct" Iraq.

Strand of movement

12 April 2003
IN ENGLAND the Socialist Alliance is providing an alternative for all those who can no longer stomach voting for Blair's Labour Party. Over 160 Socialist Alliance Against the War candidates are standing in the local council elections. They are also campaigning against privatisation, student tuition fees and the witch-hunt of asylum seekers.

Action to guard our safety on the railway

05 April 2003
THE MOST coordinated strike action on the railway since privatisation forced train operating companies to cancel up to 90 percent of services across nine firms this Monday and on Friday of last week. Some 3,000 guards in the RMT union held two 24-hour strikes over a long-running safety dispute. Further action is planned for Thursday 17 April. Despite government support for strikebreaking, management on the nine companies admitted the strike's success.

Guards strike to put safety first on the railways

29 March 2003
GUARDS IN the RMT rail workers' union on ten companies were set to strike for 24 hours on Friday of this week and Monday of next over safety. "It is the first effectively national strike we have had on the guards' side since privatisation," says Alex Holden, a guard and RMT safety rep in Manchester. "The fragmentation of the industry means we have had to have a series of synchronised ballots." The companies are:

Women's TUC

22 March 2003
This year's women's TUC conference in Liverpool was the angriest I have attended. Throughout the conference, opposition to government policies on issues such as equality legislation, pensions, privatisation and the firefighters' dispute was linked again and again to the senseless waste of lives and resources in a war.

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