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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 November 2013

Them & Us

Energy rip-off

Millions of hard-pressed households have just had their energy bills ratcheted-up to stratospheric levels by the 'big six' companies, accompanied by apologetic letters saying their 'hands are tied' due to government taxes, transportation costs, etc.

However, this disingenuous drivel has been blown apart by the publication of their latest profit figures from Ofgem, the toothless 'industry regulator'. It shows that the big six' profits have risen from 30 to 105 per household - over a 300% increase in three years!

Never mind Labour's limited price freeze, nationalise them now!

Talking crap

Deleted from the Tory party's website are David Cameron's 'vote blue, go green' speeches when in opposition. But the PM is only being consistent as he recently told aides to "get rid of all the green crap" from energy bills. Any suggestion that big Dave is submitting to the demands of the big six energy giants is just socialist paranoia.

Below minimum

The minimum wage of 6.31 for adults isn't a living wage but some employers aren't even paying this statutory requirement. In the privately run social care sector, HM Revenue and Customs inspectors found that, in 183 investigations, 48% of employers had paid workers below the national minimum wage. Some 338,835 in back pay is owed to 2,443 workers.

But this is the tip of an iceberg. Out of around one million care workers, an estimated 220,000 are paid less than the minimum wage.

The head of the Low Pay Commission told the Guardian that cuts in council funding had left rising numbers of care firms with 'little option' but to break the law by paying below the minimum wage.

The only 'option' is to organise workers to fight for a decent living wage.

Taxing issue

Christmas, so the adverts constantly remind us, is a time for giving. But for tax avoiding companies and rich individuals it appears to be all year long - at the expense of charities and the public.

Offsetting tax through the government's Gift Aid scheme is, according to the National Audit Office, actually costing the public purse a hefty 940 million a year. At the same time the total sum received by charities, 1.04 billion, actually fell by 20 million since 2000. As the saying goes, charity begins at home!

Targeting the vulnerable

Seriously ill patients, including people suffering cancer, are being threatened with the loss of benefits under new government rules.

Not content with imposing the hated bedroom tax and driving through the unworkable universal benefit scheme, welfare minister Iain Duncan Smith is reportedly keen to scrap work-related activity benefits (Wrag) and push claimants onto Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA).

Wrag is designed to assist 550,000 people with illnesses providing that they participate in training or practice interviews. However, if pushed onto JSA they would be subject to benefit sanctions if their illness results in them not attending enough work interviews. Yet again, vulnerable people are being made to pay for the government's austerity.

What we saw

"Re-tool Boeing to produce mass transit instead of destructive war machines"

Video of Kshama Sawant, winning Socialist Alternative city council candidate for Seattle, addressing Boeing aerospace workers during the election campaign

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In The Socialist 27 November 2013:

Socialist Party youth and students

No recovery for Britain's young people

Will angry youth turn to Labour?

NUS NEC votes to support education workers strike

Referendum victory for York housing campaign

Socialist Party news and analysis

We need a real living wage!

Nothing achieved by UN climate talks

Flower power - downfall of a banking boss

UK governments approved secret mass surveillance

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

Europe - centre of capitalist crisis

Iran nuclear deal reflects changed world relations

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Councillors: Say no to Tory cuts!

TUSC byelection candidates show cuts aren't necessary

Socialist Party workplace news

End the pay freeze: A united fight in post-16 education

Massive campaign planned against Underground cuts

Hull city council unions force cuts climb-down

Anti-blacklisting campaign will not go away

NUT election: Support for national action call

Criminal justice: More privatisation problems

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Southampton: Labour flies the white flag in face of call to fight back

Brazilian socialist councillor speaks in Britain

Bristol: Art and Revolution

Socialist Party review

TV review: Amazon's exploitation exposed


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