Solidarity Magazine » Privatisation Fri, 01 Mar 2013 19:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Yeovil TUC: Opposing cuts, organising solidarity Mon, 07 May 2012 13:18:33 +0000 Continue reading ]]> First, a bit of local South Somersetworking-class history. George Mitchell (1826-1901) was a hero of trade unionism in the 19th century, when most rural workers had no vote and lived under appalling conditions. Born in Montacute, into extreme poverty, he worked initially as a farm labourer before getting a job on Ham Hill in the quarry. In Frome, he became qualified as a stonemason. Moving toLondon, he became rich through his stonemason’s business. He decided to use his wealth to return to Somerset to improve the lot of agricultural workers and their families by building the National Agricultural Labourers’Union. George organised open-air mass meetings, starting in Montacute where about 1,000 people gathered and resolved to set up a branch of the union. This was followed by mass meetings in Chard, Yeovil and elsewhere. To emphasise his humble beginnings, he called himself “One from the Plough”.

Some of his biggest meetings, attracting as many as 20,000 men, women and children, were held on Ham Hill. One such meeting, in 1875, passed a resolution, proposed by George, demanding votes for all adults. Another resolution demanded “a school board in every parish” – meaning universal primary education. You can read all about George in a fine book by local writer Brendon Owen. It is called-of course- One from the Plough and is sold only at Montacute post office!

We believe that the present dire situation requires a revival of such mass action, demanding economic justice. If our forebears could do it without phones, emails or Facebook, what is stopping us? Only lack of confidence in ourselves and each other.

The main functions of our local trades union council are to organise solidarity with workers who are in dispute with their employer, to exchange information, and to represent the trade union movement in the local community. Currently our main concern is to oppose the cuts in public services, pensions and state benefits. You may remember that we initiated a Town Meeting on the subject in February. Currently, the Somerset County Council branch of UNISON is urging its members to wear black wristbands in memory of the Somersetthat we believe is being destroyed. Council leader Ken Maddock wants to turn the County Council into a mere commissioning body, employing only a fraction of its former staff and getting almost all of its much reduced services done by private profit-seeking contractors. We appeal to anyone who wants to join us in campaigning against the cuts to contact us via our website

The closure of public libraries is being challenged in the High Court. The County Council wants to close the small library inSunningdale Road. One of our members has set up a Facebook page called “Save Sunningdale Library in Yeovil”. Why not join? Every little helps!

At our May Day celebration this year, one of the speakers was an 18-year-old student who had taken part in the student demonstrations against the rise in tuition fees. He told the meeting that his whole generation felt a deep sense of having been betrayed, and that they would never forget it.

All state secondary schools in the Yeovil area have now become academies. We think that this is an attack on local democracy. One local head teacher has described the involvement of the County Council in his school as “bureaucracy”, but we call it democracy. This move is the very opposite of the localism that the government claims to believe in. The schools will become more like businesses that have been awarded a government contract, and less like public services. Services previously provided by the County Council will now be provided by private companies driven by the profit motive. That is a backward step for education.

If your pension is being reduced, your housing benefit is being cut, you are losing some of your child benefit or tax credit; if you have lost your Education Maintenance Allowance, your job, your local bus service, or whatever it is, please tell us about your experience. You don’t have to suffer in silence! Use our website or write to the Secretary, Yeovil TUC, at Unity Hall,Central Road,YeovilBA20 1JL.

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Health workers vote to keep their services in the NHS Sat, 18 Sep 2010 15:19:30 +0000 Continue reading ]]> HEALTH professionals in Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland have voted for a second time to keep services within the remit of the NHS, as opposed to transferring to a “social enterprise”.

More than 500 staff from Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland Community Services (MRCCS), an NHS organisation that provides health and social care to Teesside communities, voted in favour of their services being managed by a local NHS foundation trust.

By April next year, all community healthcare services across the country, such as care and treatment in community hospitals such as Carter Bequest and care and support to people in their homes or local clinic settings to enable them to stay out of hospital, have to be managed outside of current Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) like NHS Redcar and Cleveland and NHS Middlesbrough.

The two proposed options to manage these services were to create a social enterprise outside of the NHS, or be managed by a local Foundation Trust such as North Tees or South Tees.

About 700 of the 1,000 staff in MRCCS voted in the ballot on their preferred option.

A spokesman for MRCCS said: The staff of Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland Community Services (MRCCS) have voted in favour of being hosted by a local NHS foundation trust after a ballot showed 66% of those who voted preferred this option.

The result of the ballot will now be presented to the board of MRCCS who will make a recommendation to the boards of NHS Middlesbrough and NHS Redcar and Cleveland later this month.

Plans must then be approved by the North East Strategic Health Authority and the Department of Health. The hosting arrangement, if approved, would begin on April 1, 2011.

MRCCS was established in June 2007 to provide the NHS community services previously provided by Middlesbrough PCT and Redcar and Cleveland PCT.

Unison, the public sector trade union, welcomed the rejection of a social enterprise.

Wendy Larry, Unison local representative in MRCCS said: Despite what management promise we as staff recognise the dangers that this could bring in terms of no longer being employed by the NHS.

We would be open to the vagaries of the market and to the potential for diminution to our terms and conditions of employment.

In the NHS social enterprises can take a number of different structural forms, ranging from companies limited by guarantee to more co-operative/mutual models.

Social enterprises are expected to play a big part in the future of primary care service delivery.

From the Middlesbrough Gazette

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The mood in the Royal Mail sorting office Thu, 16 Sep 2010 20:29:52 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Vince Cable has spoken: Royal Mail is to be privatised. My colleagues wonder whether things can possibly get any worse. Roy Mayall

    I heard about the proposed privatisation of the Royal Mail on Saturday. One of my work mates sent me a text. It was my long weekend, so yesterday was the first chance I’d had to gauge the response in the office. It wasn’t very good.

    People are in two minds about the news that Vince Cable has decided to start selling off the service after Richard Hooper’s report calling for “urgent action”. A common quip was “well, it couldn’t be worse”. We’ve seen a marked reduction in the quality of service in recent years, and the general view of the management is that it is worse than useless. That’s not the term most posties would pick: the usual word is “shit”.

    We were all out in the smoking shed, having a last break before heading out on our rounds. Dennis said: “Are we a business or a service? The public still think it’s a service, but the management treat it like a business. If it’s sold off it will just be a business and the service won’t count at all.”

    Bob said: “The only way to modernise is to go back. We’re handing the business over to the competition. We have to start earlier. It used to be people would get their mail in the morning while they were eating their breakfast. Soon it’ll be coming while they’re eating their tea.”

    Jim said: “I knew this was going to happen. They’ve been winding us down just to sell us off. It’s been on the cards for years.”

    Bill said: “I can’t wait to be taken over by Mothercare.” Everyone laughed.

    But there’s real gloom. People are worried about the future. We all know – regardless of what Hooper or Cable might say – that our workload is increasing. We have more junk mail. More brochures. More magazines. More bulk-mail advertising addressed to “The Householder” or “The Occupier”. Most of all, more packets – 30 to 40 every day on most rounds. Online shopping has really taken off, and a large percentage of it is being lugged around on our shoulders.

    We also know that the main drain on the Royal Mail’s profit base is us subsidising the private mail companies by carrying their mail for them. They’ve extracted all the profitable trade from the banks and utilities, but once it comes to actually sticking it through letter boxes, that’s our job. It still lands on our frames for sorting and carrying. What chance do we have? We do the work, they take the profit.

    Yet the last time I tried to call a meeting about the future, only three people turned up. We’re a soft office. After the last strike, a deal was reached between the Communications Workers Union and Royal Mail that caused real anger. Quite a lot of the guys saw it as a sellout and left the union then. They felt so betrayed. If the CWU call for a strike over privatisation, a large number of people in our office at least probably won’t come out again – even though the main worry is privatisation might mean a reduction in our terms and conditions.

    Jerry said: “My first thought was it might be better. But then I think it’s really down to job cuts, and to slimming down the business. It’s going to be a worse service and more expensive for customers.”

    Jim said: “They want us all to be on the minimum wage. Give it 12 months. They want a casual workforce. They’re moving towards dropping the bags off at people’s houses for them to deliver and no more fulltime jobs.”

    George said: “That’s the end. They’ll terminate the contract. We’ll be given the option: change the contract or leave. The younger ones will leave because they’ll be able to find other work. The older ones won’t be able to leave.”

    My work mates know who I am. I told them I was writing a story for the Guardian. What did they want to tell readers about the mood in the office? “It’s suicidal,” said Jerry. “It’s already a shit job and it’s about to get worse.”

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    "Privatisation is politically motivated" Sun, 12 Sep 2010 15:17:19 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Union says Royal Mail is successful and modernising while privatisation is unpopular and politically motivated to get hands on pension cash.

    The Communication Workers Union condemns plans announced today to privatise Royal Mail and vows to fight the politically motivated move by all means.

    A YouGov poll last month found a majority of voters of every party oppose privatising Royal Mail with support at only 15 per cent. At the same time, Royal Mail is a market leader and the company’s profits rose by 26 per cent to £404 million in 2010. A fully funded modernisation programme agreed by both management and unions is in place bringing stability to the company. Royal Mail’s pension scheme assets total around £26 billion.

    Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said:

    “Privatisation is old politics. It’s the failed politics of history which brought disruption to Britain’s utilities and railways and astronomical prices for consumers. Dangerously in this case, we fear the government may also be plotting to seize the pension assets.

    Privatisation would be devastating for Royal Mail and the whole country’s postal services. The universal service has been a key part of the UK post for 170 years but because it isn’t the profitable element of mail, the privatisation will put it at risk. This could damage the service for all customers including millions of small business and potentially harm the UK economy. Privatisation will also mean separation of Royal Mail and the post office network, putting the very existence of many more post offices that play such a key role in Britain’s communities at risk.

    Closures, cuts and profit will rule while customers, small businesses, communities and tax payers lose out. This report is politically motivated to please the ideology of the coalition. People who work in the industry know that privatisation has no positive role in this public service. Richard Hooper’s report of 2008 was flawed and his vision was proved to be unachievable. He still doesn’t have the answers to the challenges facing the postal service but faithfully trots out what his political masters request.

    Royal Mail has always been a privatisation too far and there is a public majority out there who will vote this government out for flogging off our national assets and breaking our public services.”

    Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary, said:

    “Everyone’s a loser if you privatise the Royal Mail. Jobs and services will suffer and customers will see prices soar.

    We’ve put in place a detailed and fully funded modernisation programme which is dramatically transforming Royal Mail. Why does the government want to threaten the stability and capital of this programme when it’s proving a major success?

    We fear the pensions of our members will be at risk under privatisation. Everyone hears about the deficit, but there’s over £26 billion in assets which belongs to the postmen and women who have paid their contributions every week of their working lives. We will never let the government get its hands on that money for anything other than what it’s intended – to pay for the retirement of hard-working postal workers.

    Postal workers have invested in the modernisation of the service by fully supporting the business transformation agreement signed earlier this year. The company and its employees are working hard to transform the business together. Rather than reverse the progress, the government needs to show the same support for this key public service.”

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    Rail unions rally to defend safety rules Wed, 14 Apr 2010 16:08:54 +0000 Continue reading ]]> by John Millington in Lille, France

    Transport unions from across Europe have held a mass rally of thousands of railway workers in Lille, France, to protest against the EU-driven privatisation of the industry.

    The huge mobilisation brought together 20 unions from across Europe and was supported by the World Federation of Trade Unions.

    Basking in the warm spring sunshine, railway workers began the day by blocking roads, lighting red flares and blowing horns as a podium was erected outside the European Railway Agency (ERA) headquarters.

    The workers were in Lille to deliver a letter calling on the ERA to give a “clear commitment to rail safety” and assurances that jobs will not be lost “in the interests of competition and profit.”

    Unions have expressed widespread concern that increased liberalisation and marketisation of rail services under the auspices of the “undemocratic” Lisbon Treaty will lead to more accidents on networks throughout Europe.

    Union representatives were present from Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Greek, Cyprus and the Basque country.

    A special mention of solidarity was given to the Hungarian trade unionists who had made the arduous trip to Lille from Budapest.

    Scandinavian countries also sent messages of support as did Britain’s firefighters’ union the FBU.

    General secretary of RMT Bob Crow, who headed the largest delegation, said that Britain had been used as “a guinea pig” for rail privatisation.

    “To me ‘liberalisation’ means ‘free’ – but the only people who can afford to run the railways are big business,” he said.

    Mr Crow sparked deafening applause and shouts of support when he added: “Today should not be the end of the rally, brothers and sisters. We should be organising industrial action across the length and breadth of Europe.”

    Sister transport union TSSA assistant general secretary Manuel Cortes warned that accidents in Britain such as those in Potters Bar and Hatfield would happen elsewhere through “the pursuit of profiteering instead of safety.

    “Profit and safety don’t mix,” said Mr Cortes.

    “We have to fight a common enemy with a common voice.”

    Portuguese railway workers trade union CGTP-IN national co-ordinator Manuel Alexandre Cruz hailed the day’s action, pointing to the Lisbon Treaty as part of Europe’s “anti-social policies.”

    And he insisted that “trade union organisations from different countries must join efforts to fight neoliberalism.”

    Mr Cruz said that rail travel was an important social service and that the highest safety standards must be implemented.

    “In this moment, in Portugal, the offensive against the public railway and railway workers is getting worse.” he said.

    “In Portugal, we are struggling, as you are struggling here today in this European mobilisation, to affirm that the struggle continues.”

    Spokesman for German railway rank-and-file group Bahn von Unten (Railways from Below) Hans-Gerd Oefinger declared that the only way to ensure safety was “workers’ and democratic ownership of the entire railway system.”

    From the Morning Star

    From the Morning Star

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    Defending Public Services and Jobs Tue, 09 Mar 2010 10:08:42 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The Spring issue of SOLIDARITY is now available. This is an article from it.

    The strength of the unions depends on the consciousness, organisation, and active involvement of their members …”

    As we approach a General Election, whatever the outcome, we can be sure that public sector workers and the services they provide, are facing cuts across the board. For instance, even if the current government were to somehow hang on, the NHS would face cuts in spending of between £15 and £20 billion by 2014. Ken Clarke, for the Tories has promised deeper cuts than those made by Thatcher.

    Whichever sector you look at management are seeking to cut jobs or services, or some measure of both. So the trades unions are going to face a severe test of their ability to defend their members and the services. In London the FBU is facing a stiff battle against management which wants to save money by unilaterally imposing new shifts (see Page 12).

    Whilst UK union membership is comprised of 40.3% in the private sector, and 59.7% in the public sector there is no comparison in unity density. As Gregor Gall reports (see page 13) union density in the private sector is down to a meagre 15%, whilst in the public sector it is 57.1%. Those covered by collective agreements were 18.7% in the private sector and 70.5% in the public sector.

    This shows the scope for recruitment in the public sector where collective agreements apply. Yet, in the case of Health and social work, despite an increase in staff numbers over the period of the New Labour government, union density has declined from 46.1% to 40.7%. Why? The reasons are surely connected with the collaboration of the Health unions with the government rather than mobilising their members against its market driven ‘reforms’. If they have criticised the introduction of the ‘health market’ they have nonetheless signed up to a partnership agreement designed to deliver ‘modernisation’.

    This partnership was agreed in the context of the introduction of a ‘health market’ which has opened up the NHS to private companies, demanded Trusts break even year on year, and introduced ‘payment by results’. It has replaced cooperation with competition. This partnership has undermined union independence and meant they have failed to challenge the government’s agenda, despite their criticisms of it. If you look at the NHS Social Partnership Forum website you can read examples of ‘best practice’. Just to take one example, the report waxes lyrical about cooperation between management and unions at the Blackpool Trust, enabling 523 jobs to be cut! There is as yet no movement within the health service unions to break this partnership arrangement. Without such a break there can be no effective rebuilding of independent union organisation opposed to the fragmentation of the NHS.

    Yet as the example of the North Devon UNISON strike shows, with determined leadership, even the lowest paid and downtrodden workers can be organised successfully if their interests are not identified with those of the management. As Mark Harper shows in his article (page 4) the key to building union strength is the involvement of union members. Or, as he puts it “a union is at its strongest when the distinction between activist and member is at its most blurred”.

    Like the health unions, the CWU in Royal Mail has accepted the need for ‘modernisation’ as good coin. The leadership of the union seeks a partnership with Royal Mail, but the resistance of their membership to the impact of liberalisation on the job, and the service, is an obstacle to reaching one. Ironically a single CWU member, the pseudonymous Roy Mayall, on his own initiative in breaking into the mass media, has done more to explain the issues behind the dispute than the union apparatus has been able to do. As Roy explains (see page 5), there needs to be a campaign to end the ‘downstream access’ which is nothing other than a rigged market in which RM has to deliver the mail of its competitors. The strategy of the CWU – ‘modernisation’ of RM so it can compete with the private companies – can only lead to the destruction of jobs and a worsening of the service.

    Defending public services requires an alliance between public sector workers and users of the services they provide. As the campaign in defence of Council housing has shown, such an alliance (in this case between council workers and Council tenants) has delivered successes despite the odds being stacked against them. Of course, there is the advantage of having a ballot of tenants to decide on transfer to the private sector. Other privatisations do not have to go through a ballot. But the principle remains the same. Public sector workers bolster their chances if they win the support of service users.

    Local government workers have long been used to the annual budget crisis in which cuts are distributed across departments. Pressure is now being stepped up. For example, 2,000 job cuts have been announced in Birmingham. At the same time the ‘Single Status’ process draws to a messy end, with open discussion barred on the basis of ‘advice’ from the union solicitors.

    The weakness of union organisation in local government is reflected by the fact that in only one local authority (Birmingham – see page 9) has there been strike action across all departments against pay cuts resulting from ‘Single Status’. In some areas there has been sectional action from groups with some industrial muscle such as the Leeds refuse workers (page 7). In some areas there was a not surprising outrage from members when local government unions have recommended acceptance of agreements which include wage cuts for a substantial group of their members. Now the situation seems to be that unions are making no recommendation whatsoever, for fear of the legal consequences; leaving their members leaderless.

    During the period from 1980 the response of the union apparatuses to the defeats the movement suffered was ‘partnership’ and the ‘service model’ – the provision of individual services. This strategy tied the unions to their employers and encouraged a passive outlook amongst members. All that they had to do was pay their subscription and miraculously a service was provided for them. This reinforced the impact of the defeats on collective union organisation. Yet even when such an approach was abandoned, or half abandoned, the unions were left with the consequence of encouraging a passive membership rather than building collective organisation.

    The strength of the unions depends on the consciousness, organisation and active involvement of their members in the workplace and on the industrial level. It depends also, on their independence from management and government, and a recognition that their interests require a struggle. A break with ‘partnership’ in the NHS and elsewhere and the promotion of a vision of public services which are not turned into commodities, is necessary means of changing the unions from service providers to fighting collective organisations.

    As Kim Moody shows (page 14) from the experience of the NUHW in the USA, a union with virtually no apparatus can be successful to the degree that it is literally a union of the members. There is a lesson for us there and from North Devon. The enthusiasm of workers for an organisation which they consider theirs, which brings them together in struggle for their interests develops a collective and combative spirit.

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    Royal Mail – "Downstream Access" Sun, 07 Feb 2010 21:42:30 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

    Downstream Access

    By Roy Mayall

    Postal workers will certainly know about Downstream Access, but how many members of the public have heard about it or understand what is going on?

    The following is a user’s guide to Downstream Access and its impact on the Royal Mail.

    Downstream Access (DSA) is the means by which private mail companies can gain access to the Royal Mail network, using Royal Mail staff to deliver their mail for them. It is the result of a series of EU directives whose ostensible purpose was to liberalise and harmonise postal services across Europe. What the process has actually achieved is the casualisation of postal worker’s jobs and diminishing standards for the ordinary consumer.

    There are 41 licensed postal operators in the UK, including the Royal Mail. Of these only the Royal Mail has a universal delivery obligation.

    Downstream Access companies include Citipost, DHL, SecuredMail, TNT and UK Mail. They bid for the most profitable bulk city-to-city and business to business trade, taking it away from the Royal Mail, before handing it over to the Royal Mail to actually deliver it.

    You can tell which is Downstream Access mail by the frank in the right hand corner of the envelope. Any mail that doesn’t have a Royal Mail stamp, or which has some other kind of mark on it, is Downstream Access mail.

    According to Billy Hayes in a recent article, every downstream access letter actually costs the Royal Mail 2p.

    This means that the British taxpayer is subsidising private companies to run-down the Royal Mail at the cost of 2p for every letter.

    The trick that is being played on all of us is to present this process as part of the normal workings of the free market. We are being presented with the picture of an out-of-date, old-fashioned Royal Mail struggling in a free market against its more efficient and “modern” rivals. The Royal Mail is then being asked to “modernise” in response to this.

    What this means for the workforce is increasing amounts of work for diminishing numbers of staff, increasing casualisation of the workforce, more and more part-time staff on diminishing pay and conditions, and a lessening of the ratio of full-time to part-time staff. It is full-time staff who are expected to take up the slack, while, at the same time, the pressure is on for full-time staff to leave the Royal Mail, to take redundancy, or to look for work in other trades.

    What this means for the consumer is an increasingly shoddy and make-shift service, as Royal Mail staff are coming under pressure to do more work in less time.

    The old-fashioned postie’s pride in his job and his service to customers is being squeezed out in favour of a cheaper mail service for the big corporations. B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to customer) is being made cheaper at the expense the ordinary consumer, including small businesses and High Street shops, who are receiving their mail ever later.

    What we can do about this

    We need to start a campaign to return Downstream Access mail to the sender.

    All unsolicited mail, such as advertising leaflets, promotional or charity mail, or other non-urgent mail sent by DSA, should be immediately returned.

    Make sure the address window on the envelope is covered, and that the return address is highlighted.

    Make sure, also, that it is clear WHY you are returning the mail.

    Write “NO TO DOWNSTREAM ACCESS”, or some similar phrase, in bold clear letters on the front of the envelope, and put the letter back in the post

    What if I need to read the contents?

    Obviously you will need to read some of your DSA mail. Bank statements, for instance, are often sent by DSA. Clearly you will need to open these.

    However, you can write to the company who sent you the mail telling them that you disapprove of their use of private companies to deliver their mail and asking that all letters be sent by Royal Mail in future.

    It is up to you how much or how little of your DSA mail you return. Obviously the more the better, but even if only non-essential mail is returned it will put pressure on those companies who opt for DSA to use the Royal Mail instead.

    Downstream Access is not “competition” for the Royal Mail, it is a burden. The companies who profit by DSA are not “rivals” they are parasites.

    Say NO to Downstream Access!

    Return the Royal Mail to full public ownership.

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    £75 million wasted on rail franchising since 2003 Fri, 15 Jan 2010 18:13:04 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

    RAIL UNION RMT today slammed the government for “presiding over a culture of private waste” on the railways after new figures obtained by RMT parliamentary convenor John McDonnell revealed that the cost of designing and tendering rail franchises since 2003 is a staggering £75 million.

    In a series of parliamentary questions John McDonnell had attempted to find out the full costs of franchising since privatisation in 1996. Incredibly, the government have been unable to provide financial information between 1996 and 2003 but in a parliamentary answer transport minister Chris Mole has confirmed that the price of private rail franchising to the public purse between 2003-2005 was £42.4 million and between 2005-2009 was £33.8 million.

    RMT have released the new financial information exactly two months after the East Coast Mainline franchise was seized back from National Express and taken in to public ownership. The union have renewed their call for an end to the “expense, waste, disruption and fragmentation of rail privatisation.”

    RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

    Tens of millions of pounds that could have been invested in the rail network has been squandered on drawing up and tendering train operating franchises. When you add in the hundreds of millions soaked up in public subsidies by the train operating companies, and the huge amounts extracted from the system in profits, dividends and bonuses, we can see the epic scale of the publicly-funded rip off which is rail privatisation.

    While precious resources are being wasted on propping up the failed policy of rail privatisation nearly 1500 safety-critical rail maintenance jobs are being threatened with the axe. That’s the distorted priorities of the current UK rail system – unlimited funds to keep privatisation afloat while safety is compromised out on the tracks in a dash for cuts.”

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    Anti-Academies Alliance Fri, 15 Aug 2008 12:52:08 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The Anti Academies Alliance involves parents, teachers, school governors, trade unionists, councillors and MPs. We believe that the government’s Academies programme is privatising our schools.

    The Anti Academies Alliance is producing a newspaper.

    It will be printed at the beginning of September and we will have it at the TUC Congress to give to delegates. We hope it will be used widely by campaigns and in the Trade Unions and, we believe, will be ideal for sending to councillors and school governors.

    The newspaper will have contributions from Ken Purchase MP, Fiona Millar, Francis Beckett, Melissa Benn, Peter Mortimore.

    There are articles on ‘what do parents really want?’, ULT, International Privatisation, Attainment, Exclusions.

    Education Trade Union leaders Chris Keates (NASUWT), Christine Blower (NUT), Christina McAnea (UNISON), Sally Hunt (UCU), Andy Ballard (ATL) are contributing articles.

    Education campaigns SEA, CASE and Comprehensive Futures have contributed articles.
    Of course there are reports from campaigns around the country, where we have stopped the Academies and where campaigners are organising to stop them.
    Would you be able to take copies to circulate to your affiliates?

    Prices for the newspaper (the newspaper is free to Anti Academies Alliance affiliates):

    9 or less 20p each,
    10 or more 15p each,
    50 or more 10p each,
    100 or more 8p each,
    1000 or more 5p each

    Cheques payable to “anti academies alliance’

    If you need more information please contact me.

    Pete Jackson
    Anti Academies Alliance office
    PO Box 14412, Birmingham, B11 9DZ

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    Rail fiasco underlines need to end fragmentation, says RMT Fri, 04 Jan 2008 11:46:51 +0000 Continue reading ]]> THE POST-Christmas chaos caused by major engineering overruns on the rail network and the anger caused by massive fares hikes have highlighted the need to reverse fragmentation and bring rail back into public ownership, Britain’s biggest rail union says today.

    As Network Rail blamed lack of skilled engineers and contract staff for overruns that closed sections of the West Coast Mainline and London’s Liverpool Street station, RMT renewed its call for rail renewals work to be brought back in-house.

    “The massive problems faced by our members and hundreds of thousands of commuters over the last few days have added insult to the injury already meted out in the form of inflation-busting fares increases,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.

    It is ludicrous that work planned months ahead should have overrun so seriously because there weren’t enough contract staff to do the work, but the very fact that Network Rail is so dependent on a maze of contractors and sub-contractors is at the root of the problem.

    Network Rail has already shown how much better things can be by bringing most routine maintenance back in-house, and there is no earthly reason why the bulk of major renewals contracts shouldn’t come back in-house as well.

    The private train operators have been making the most of having something to complain about, but now is not the time to let them off the hook.

    Just like the contractors and the train-leasing companies, the franchisees are in business to see how much they can take out of the industry, not how much they can put in, and between them the privateers have leeched well over £10 billion in profits out of the industry.

    Franchising doesn’t work, the contract culture doesn’t work, the train-leasing companies make profits that would make Al Capone blush, and the whole lot is overseen by a watchdog with two heads.

    It is the Office for Rail Regulation that is turning the financial screw on Network Rail, so even if it wasn’t just an exercise in recycling public money, what is the point of the same body levying a huge fine when it all goes wrong thanks to lack of resources?

    The solution is simple. Rail operations, infrastructure and rolling stock should be re-united under a single, publicly owned body, answerable directly to the Department for Transport.

    The economy and the environment are crying out for an efficient and affordable railway, and every penny going into the industry should be spent on achieving that,” Bob Crow said.

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