Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/298/13870
Blair Declares War On Public Services
Hands Off Our Schools!
JARVIS, THE engineering contractor which is being investigated by the police over last year's Potters Bar rail crash, has been awarded a three-year government contract to help rescue 'failing' schools. Is this what Blair meant when he said that domestic government policies after the Iraq war would be more 'radical'?
What could be more radical than giving an education job to a firm that can't even carry out the job it's already meant to be doing? The contract - worth £1.9 million - will be for advising the 700 schools which the government consider worst-performing. Jarvis has never had an education contract like this before.
New Labour ministers are threatening to close secondary schools where fewer than 15% of pupils get five A-C grade passes at GCSE. Jarvis have been told to "disseminate good practice" among local education authorities.
Good practice? What the hell do firms like Jarvis know of that? The Potters Bar crash killed ten people. After it happened, rail unions said that Jarvis, Britain's biggest rail maintenance firm and responsible for maintenance on that stretch of railway, should be prosecuted for failing to maintain the track.
Jarvis failed to fully tighten many of the nuts holding sets of points together around the place where the accident occurred. Even before Potters Bar, they had already been fined for many accidents and for having too few staff working on the track.
But New Labour love Jarvis, making the firm its technical adviser on safety issues and, as part of the Tube Line consortium, responsible for running part of London's tubes.
This new education contract, however, must be the frozen limit. Putting the future of Britain's children in the hands of a company whose only skill is in ratcheting up profits is criminal failure.
Teachers, parents and school students will have common cause in opposing this blatant privatisation and reward for corporate carelessness.
Jarvis don't run their rail services for the good of the passengers - they're just there to make profits, massive dividends and huge top salaries. Meanwhile, workers see their pay levels forced down.
To stop this education crisis, defend jobs and decent pay and make sure services are run for need rather than profits, workers should link up with service users in a campaign of action.
At their recent union conference, teachers showed that they are determined to fight for a decent education system. Workers throughout the public sector need to follow their lead.
In The Socialist 3 May 2003: