Socialist Worker


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.

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.

Joint action is the way to beat rail privateers

15 March 2003
GUARDS AND conductors on 12 rail lines could call strikes next week after a two to one vote for action. The dispute to restore the safety role of guards goes right to the heart of the way privatisation has sacrificed safety, services and passengers in the interests of the rail conglomerates.

Tube bosses risk lives for profit

01 February 2003
NEW LABOUR'S privatisation scheme for London Underground came within a hair's breadth of killing dozens of people last Saturday. A motor fell off a Central Line tube train, knocking it off the rails as it entered Chancery Lane station. The train smashed into the platform, and its doors were ripped off as some carriages slammed into tunnel walls.

Colombia solidarity

01 February 2003
"IF YOU keep fucking around we are going to kill you all." That threat was made by the Colombian army to workers at the EMCALI public utilities firm this week. The workers, based in the city of Cali in the South American country, are occupying offices and plants against the threat of privatisation. A year ago they beat off privatisation after an occupation.

The anger is rising in Britain

04 January 2003
LAST YEAR could leave no one in any doubt about where the New Labour government is going. It began with Tony Blair in February denouncing public sector workers who oppose privatisation as "wreckers". It ended with the whole government mounting a vicious propaganda campaign against the firefighters and their union.

Defend Council Housing

14 December 2002
HOUSING privatisation plans in Haringey, north London, have been blocked by tenants. A few weeks ago we found out that the council was about to use funds from the council's "ring-fenced homelessness budget" towards a £612,000 consultancy contract.

Postal workers

23 November 2002
OVER 3,000 postal workers were on the verge of strikes against privatisation as Socialist Worker went to press. Strikes will go ahead unless Royal Mail managers back off completely from their plan to hand the Cash Handling and Distribution (CHD) section over to Securicor. Talks between management and the CWU union were planned to take place this week. On a 67 percent turnout CHD members voted by a remarkable 95 percent for action. Immediately after the vote Royal Mail and Securicor announced they were dropping their original privatisation plan.

Council housing

16 November 2002
THE GOVERNMENT is on the back foot over privatisation of council housing. Sheffield council has just announced it is officially calling off its transfer, and ministers now acknowledge that stock transfer will be rejected by tenants in most areas.

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